New practices in digital media, including social media, have the potential to inspire dialogue and discussion, and to engage young people in democratic life. U-YouPa investigates how young people in different European countries participate in different digital media spaces. A key goal is to understand the connection between cultural and technological preconditions for strengthening young people's participation in digital media spaces.
Key research questions are:
How can young people, using existing "participatory" media formats, meet challenges related to developing media literacy, diversity, intercultural dialogue and inclusion in European countries?
What and how can young people contribute to media literacy that can advance creativity and inclusion among young people with different sociocultural backgrounds?
U-YouPa develops methods and concepts that contribute to an increased understanding of media spaces that young people use in intercultural conversations. An innovative research design engages young people with different sociocultural backgrounds in different phases of the research. They participate in data collection, interpretation of findings and establishment of ethical recommendations and rules that enable and encourage intercultural dialogue. By applying this research design, we seek to provide a deep understanding of how technology is interwoven in daily activities of young people.
We focus particularly on political and intercultural activities - which activities young people initiate, observe and/or participate in. We expect that the research design will contribute to knowledge about ethics in digital media, and an understanding of which skills that facilitate intercultural dialogue.
One of the studies examines how versions of the TV series SKAM in Norway, Germany and France encourages youth participation. Another study examines how social media contribute to intercultural dialogue among young people in Austria.
U-YouPa has investigated media skills young people draw on in digital spaces. This has included mapping the skills that young participants in a blog for the TV series Skam used when they commented on and discussed episodes from the series. Furthermore, we have carried out experiments in participatory research with young people in digital spaces (online living labs) during COVID-19. In 2022, we were able to start work on participatory research in physical spaces. In addition, our Austrian partner has developed three case studies of how young people participate in social media in Austria.
The outlined research has resulted in papers that have been presented at leading media research conferences such as ECREA and NordMedia.
One of U-YouPa's participants in Austria has published an article in a peer-reviewed journal (Metal Music Studies, 7(2) 2021): "The dark side of blogging: Digital metal communities and metal influencers".
Five of U-YouPa's researchers at Oslo Metropolitan University (OsloMet) have published an article in the peer-reviewed media journal Nordicom Review (43(1), 2022): Media narratives, agonistic deliberation, and Skam: An analysis of how young people communicate in digital spaces.
Young people have largely withdrawn from traditional forms of democratic participation. They are still keen to engage in democratic life, but ask for more and different public spaces of participation. Addressing this challenge, the key goal of the U-YouPa project is to provide a research-based understanding of the interconnection between cultural and technological preconditions for strengthening youth participation in digital dialogue spaces, thus meeting the fundamental challenges of inclusion currently emerging in European countries.
The project will:
i) develop methods, concepts and empirical knowledge that contribute to increased understanding of the potential participatory media spaces for intercultural dialogue among young people,
ii) analyze current varieties in young people’s involvement on cultural and political media platforms, and explore innovative frameworks for stimulating young people’s contributions to developing an (inter)culturally reflective and inclusive media literacy, and
iii) create a knowledge-based ethical framework for technology design supporting inclusive dialogues in digital media spaces.
To reach these objectives, the project is based on an innovative research-design, involving young people with different sociocultural backgrounds in all phases of research as co-researchers and co-producers, including data gathering, interpretation of findings and the creation of ethical recommendations and rules that enable and encourage intercultural dialogue. Providing deep understanding of how technology is interwoven in daily activities of young populations—particularly their participation in political and intercultural dialogue activities—and what activities they initiate, observe and/or participate in, the research design will contribute significantly to the generation of knowledge about digital media ethics, and understanding of what capacities facilitate intercultural dialogue.