"Feel That You Are Doing Something": Participatory Culture Civics
Young people’s civic engagement through online communities and peer networks has received increased at- tention in recent years. This paper examines groups rooted within participatory cultures, which mobilize their participants toward explicit civic goals. We draw on our research of Invisible Children and the Harry Potter Alliance—two media-centric, youth-oriented, participatory organizations—to identify their distinctive prac- tices. Building on our analysis, we propose that both organizations engage in “Participatory Culture Civics” (PCC) as they support organized collective action towards civic goals, while building on the affordances of participatory culture. We describe three innovative PCC practices employed by these groups: Build Communities, Tell Stories, and Produce Media. The organizations’ ability to combine civic goals with the pleasures of participatory culture allows them to successfully engage young people. However, both organizations struggle to balance between the creative and community-based tenets of participatory culture, and the focused, product-driven goals of a civic engagement organization.
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