Young people, media and citizenship in South Africa

TitleYoung people, media and citizenship in South Africa
Publication TypeConference Paper
Author(s)Oelofsen, M., and V. Malila
Affiliation (1st Author)Department of Journalism and Media Studies, Rhodes University, South Africa
Section or WGAudience Section
DateThurs 27 June
Slot CodeAUDT4b
Slot Code (Keyword)AUDT4b
Time of Session16:00-17:30
Session TitleTransforming Audiences
Submission ID7007

1994 was a major turning point for South Africa both politically and socially. This young democracy is learning to find its feet and so are its young citizens. This paper will look at the context in which new forms of citizenship are evolving in South Africa and how young South African citizens use the media to give meaning to concepts such as ‘an active public sphere’, ‘civic agency’ and ‘participatory democracy’. The objective of the research is to provide information about the way in which the South African media contribute to the quality of democracy in South Africa through mediating citizenship in a way that improves prospects for young citizens. Robins, Cornwall and Von Lieres insist that to research citizenship and democracy the starting point must be the ‘the perspectives of citizens themselves’ (2008: 1069) and whether active citizenship is realised in their everyday lives. In South Africa, as in other post-colonial settings, the continuation of existing unequal relationships to government persist even when new democratic spaces have opened up.   This paper will provide insight into the perspectives of young South Africans in relation to their civic identity, their notions of citizenship and their use of the media in negotiating their relationship with this young democracy. The paper will draw on data from a quantitative survey with youth about media use and relevance for the formation of civic identities. Further, focus group discussions were conducted with young people from across the country to examine in depth notions such as civic and political participation, agency and voice amongst the youth and to find out whether this has any relationship to media consumption. An extensive analysis of media content in South Africa examining youth coverage will further add value to the paper.

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