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.