Social media is pervasive in the lives of young people, and this paper critically analyses how politically engaged young people integrate social media use into their existing organisations and political communications. This qualitative research project studied how young people from a broad range of existing political and civic groups use social media for sharing information, mobilisation and, increasingly, as a means to redefine political action and political spaces. Twelve in-person focus groups were conducted in Australia, the USA and the UK with matched affinity groups based on university campuses. The groups were of four types: party political group, issue-based group, identity-based group and social group. Our focus group findings suggest that this in-depth approach to understanding young people's political engagement reveals important group-based differences emerging in young people's citizenship norms: between the dutiful allegiance to formal politics and a more personalised, self-actualising preference for online, discursive forms of political engagement and organising. The ways in which political information is broadcast, shared and talked about on social media by engaged young people demonstrate the importance of communicative forms of action for the future of political engagement and connective action.
- social media