Changing Forms of Participation: An Essay

As the populations of democratic countries across the world become disillusioned with their political leaders, within governments that rely on short-term policies and dishonest, uninspiring representation, it is no surprise that the youth are similarly disillusioned and finding that their thoughts and feelings are either misrepresented or ignored. Young generations have started voicing their dissatisfaction with this political environment by engaging less and less in traditional forms of participation, such as party politics, and using new media, particularly social media, to find new voices and ways of participating which are accessible and provide an opportunity to bypass the ‘nausea’ and ‘executive powers’ of our parliament (Keane, 2012). New media is being used for both the transformation and reinvention of political discourse, and for alternatively replacing or circumventing traditional media, which has, in many but not all cases, strayed from its role as a tool for the maintenance of honesty in democracy, and turned to being a medium for the expression of certain political agendas in Australia (Gibson, 2009). New media has played both a positive and a negative role in changing forms of youth participation in Australian politics, manifesting the rise of ‘political consumption’ (Graziano & Forno, 2012).  Blogs, petition websites, Facebook pages, and Twitter accounts and hashtags, have acted as tools for mass mobilization of the young generation, prompting wide dissemination of both personal and group ideas, and discussion of local, state and national issues. However, much of the participation set in motion by new media does not result in physical manifestation, and this is where traditional forms of participation, such as joining a political party or participating in a rally, have the potential to better served the political youth by encouraging political change and garnering more mass media attention (Khorana, 2013). Ultimately, new forms of participation have given a chance for more voices to be heard and for more young people to get involved in politics, but this interaction has not necessarily lead to greater political change.

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