Changing Forms of Participation: Part 6

New forms of participation are being effectively employed by the youth because they enable collective participation, and minimize the need for individualization, which creates a seemingly ‘safe’ forum for political discourse and therefore prompts younger adults to participate and engage in civil processes.

Those who see their relatively small political contributions based in new forms of participation, such as contributing to causes on petition sites and tweeting about politics in a nationwide conversation, as a part of a larger whole which can provoke change, are more likely to see value in collective forms of citizenship and political participation. However, those who see new forms of media participation and engagement in political consumerism as a highly individualized, self-centered form of citizenship are much less likely to see value in these processes and will therefore be much less likely to actively participate (Graziano & Forno, 2012). ‘GetUp!: Action for Australia’, is a grassroots petition website which relies on social media, e.g. Facebook, Twitter, email and Google +, and small donations, to garner attention and stimulate passion for issues that arise throughout Australia and can be politically campaigned against or for (GetUp!, 2013). It is a highly individualised form of political expression because it is based on individual enthusiasm about causes close to the participant’s political, social and ethical values, however causes are voted up or down democratically on a list based on group sympathy towards suggested causes and therefore display petitions to the public based on a collective understanding of importance. One of GetUp!’s most noted acheivement has been challenging the laws included in the Commonwealth Electoral Act (1918), legislated by the Howard government, which meant that electoral roles would close on the day that writs were issued for an election, meaning many enrolments became invalid. This law was changed due to pressure from young Australians who wanted these laws changed, and to also have the freedom to enroll digitally, which was also successful with the establishment of GetUp’s OzEnrol website (GetUp!, 2013). This demonstrates the potential and political passion of young Australians when enabled by new forms of participation.

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