The Presentation of Media and Political Socialization

The presentation of media, both in formal and informal manner, affects youth political socialization and agency. Media can include a wide range of elements, such as television, the Internet, social media, graffiti, and

© The Author(s) 2017

J. Habashi, Political Socialization of Youth,

DOI 10.1057/978-1-137-47523-7_7

literature. Media can be very influential in the way youth view and perceive their world and reality. Historically, media has been discussed in a linear way, such as including only dominant news sources, without considering alternative media in the community. The multiple narratives of media have been ignored, especially when considering youth agency and political socialization. This chapter will focus on the interaction of the effect of media, both formal and informal, that is shaping the national narrative, community political discourse, and the interaction of youth political socialization. For example, one 12-year-old female participant from a city wrote about watching TV with her father and seeing children crying. The youth asked her father why the children were crying and her father responded, “the occupation expelled them from their own country, and now they don’t have water, food, or homes to sleep in. ” Media as a source of political information can impact Palestinian youth’s political socialization interactions and communications.

The concentration of this chapter is on media and its effect on youth political socialization and attempts to conceptualize its interactions with youth political agency. Media is ultimately a pragmatic medium of communication that currently manifests in multiple social and technological dimensions and interactions that youth explore in the process of political socialization. When looking at media and its role in youth political socialization, it is important to recognize that there are two distinct discourses that impact youth socialization regarding media: (1) the adult-directed media that means to politically socialize youth by emphasizing and portraying political values that complement the top-down model of socialization and the political status quo and (2) the youth-focused discourse in which youth use media to engage with others on alternate views ofpolitical processes and issues that may not be endorsed by the adult-directed (top-down) model of political socialization (McChesney, 2001; Pickard, 2007; Xenos, Vromen, & Loader, 2014). The immediate availability of media for both youth and adults allows for the competition of these two distinct discourses of youth political socialization. These two discourses might virtually collide in political discourse and methods of social and political change. The contested discourses of adults and youth within the media transcend micro interactions of intergenerationality as media from the adult-directed model is utilized to disperse political messages of compliance or specific changes within macro local/global discourse (Giroux, 2011). Media, especially social media from youth perspectives, provides interactive venues to discuss political issues and connect with other groups that traditionally was challenging. In a way, media expands the discussion between generations and family members to include mainstream or alternative views. The interactions between youth and media regardless of the direction are consistent, as they reach different social and political contexts. To explore these two parallel but distinct perspectives of media, it is essential to analyze media’s approximate relationship with political socialization and youth agency. From the youth-focused discourse, media is associated with redefining political knowledge and processes to create political spaces for social change (Valenzuela, Arriagada, & Scherman, 2012). This interactive youth agency aims to produce alternative views of the status quo. Hence, from the adult- directed discourse, media is part of the production and reproduction of the top-down model of youth political socialization, whereby it is mainly perceived as a medium of communication to enforce the expectations of political socialization within civic engagement, voting, and maintaining the political structure (Mellor, 2014; Vitak et al., 2010). Within this perspective, media expression of political information adheres to adult’s premises of youth political socialization (Pickard, 2007). Mainstream media serves as a proxy to the adult-directed model of youth’ s and children’ s political engagement in the society. This is not to conclude that media is the major contributor to youth political socialization or to deny the other variables involved in this process. Educational institutions, families, communication avenues/media, community organizations, social economic programs, and political policies are integral contributors within the top-down model of youth political socialization and can be considered commodities and subjects of neoliberal policies (Giroux, 2011).

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