Changing Forms of Participation: Part 7/Final

Collective participation has risen from the public being cast as a group of ‘consumers’, giving the public, and indeed, the developing middle class Generation Y, the power to express their political and moral concerns through political consumerism. Political consumerism has become central to modern forms of protest following the rise of the consumer during the 1950s, due to rapidly dropping costs in manufacturing household items, and the continuously developing focus on unethical and exploitative manufacturing processes (Botsman & Rogers, 2010). Boycotting or ‘buycotting’ of businesses can prove a point, often a political one, demonstrating what the public collectively perceive as important, ethical or worth investing in (Gotlieb & Wells, 2012). Alternatively, a consumer can choose to fund brands like Oxfam and Fair Trade certified products in Australia to demonstrate how important ethical processes, aid to developing countries and health standards are to the collective ‘Australian consumer’. Generation Y, having grown up during an age where the consumer revolution has bred native consumers who are highly targetable for marketing and are now increasingly important to marketers and publishers (Ambroz, 2008), are aware of their buying power and are using this rather passive form of political protest to avoid brands, products, stores or companies. This provides a new, modern outlet for political participation which may not be necessarily result in political change but inherently has the potential to capture media attention and stimulate debate.

Though academic and media debate has centered on the inadequacy and laziness of Generation Y, particularly in Western countries such as Australia, young Australians are successfully and collaboratively subverting this stereotype, an idea born from technological skepticism, by using new expressive, everyday forms of participation to develop their understanding of Australian politics and political processes, and participate more fully, by using social, organizational tools, in established forms of political protest. Not only are the youth of Australia becoming more civically educated and enthusiastic about Australian politics and communicating with politicians through grassroots initiatives and social platforms, but they are also using new media to challenge and change established values and elements of democracy which are increasingly seen as no longer relevant to the growing, disillusioned young population of Australia.


           Ambroz, J. S. 2008, ‘Marketing to millennials: Gen Y is changing the way magazines interact with readers across all platforms’, The Magazine for Magazine Management, June, p.8, accessed 06/06/13, Academic One File.
           Australian Film Foundation 2013, Gayby Baby, accessed 06/06/13,
            Australian MP Tweets 2013, What are the most frequently used hashtags by Australian politicians on Twitter, accessed 06/06/13,
            Botsman, R & Rogers, R 2010, What’s Mine is Yours: The Rise of Collaborative Consumption, HarperBusiness, New York
            Facebook 2013, I Am A Boat Person, accessed 06/06/13,
            GetUp! 2013, About GetUp!, accessed 06/06/13,
            GetUp! 2013, ‘GetUp! Acheivements’, accessed 05/06/13,
Gibson, R. K. (2009). ‘New Media and the Revitalisation of Politics’, Representation, Vol. 45, No. 3.
            Gotlieb, M. R. & Wells, C 2012 ‘ From Concerned Shopper to Dutiful Citizen: Implications of Individual to and Collective Orientations Towards Political Consumerism, Vol. 644, No. 207, Sage database.
Graziano, P. R. & Forno, F 2012 ‘Political Consumerism and New Forms of Political Participation’, The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, Vol. 644, No. 1,
Keane, J 2012 ‘The Politics of Disillusionment: Can Democracy Survive?’, The Conversation, 27 March, accessed 29/05/13,                     

One thought on “Changing Forms of Participation: Part 7/Final

  1. Kristina Zunic says:

    Great blog post Gemma. I completely agree with your statement that Australian youth are becoming more involved in politics thanks to networks and social platforms. We are a generation that express our deepest opinions in 140 characters or less. We are used to sharing our thoughts on topics so quickly because of these networks built in our time. If you’re a young Australian today who doesn’t know what’s going on in the country, then you either live under a rock or have no internet access.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s