Spreadability and Youth

Several researchers are focusing particularly on youth media and activism—from teenagers/young adults down to younger children’s use (or potential use) of social media. Below, we highlight three interesting projects that draw from Spreadable Media:

  • In her chapter “Youth Media and Its Global Digital Afterlife” for the anthology Youth Cultures in the Age of Global Media (edited by David Buckingham, Sara Bragg, and Mary Jane Kehily), Elisabeth Soep uses Spreadable Media to help set up her study—arguing for the importance of commentary and context around participation with youth-produced texts after the projects themselves are “complete” in the traditional sense.
  • Sangita Shresthova’s September 2013 working paper for the MacArthur Foundation Research Network on Youth and Participatory Politics’ Media, Activism and Participatory Politics Project, entitled “Between Storytelling and Surveillance: American Muslim Youth Negotiate Culture, Politics and Participation,” draws on Spreadable Media’s definition of spreadability and the book’s focus on circulation to providing underpinning for her case study of media production and circulation among Muslim youth in the U.S.
  • Northeastern University sociology professor Suzanna Danuta Walters (who is director of the university’s Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies program), draws on Spreadable Media to help set the stage for her latest research project, “The Viral Is Political: Sexual Identity, Sexual Violence, Social Media,” The project, part of the university’s Humanities Center Resident Fellowship Program, uses the alleged high school gang rape in Steubenville, Ohio, and the “It Gets Better” project as case studies to examine how the method of circulation shapes the topic and how “virality enable(s) new and transforming responses to these topics.
  • On Ashley Woodfall’s Children & Cross-Platform Media site, which houses her ongoing doctoral research for Bournemouth University’s Center for Excellence in Media Practice, a July 2014 short thought piece draws on a piece from co-authors Henry Jenkins and Joshua Green that is part of the Spreadable Media project. Woodfall says that Green and Jenkins “usefully warn us here that we shouldn’t label participatory practices as being either ‘progressive or reactionary, exploitative or resistant’” before they’ve been fully examined. He uses the piece in a thought piece about Habermas’ idea of a “public sphere” and questions about what an ideal “public sphere” would be for children, who “are not fully enabled to participate” in spaces that are more participatory and, when spaces are explicitly set aside from them, usually find their agency severely restricted.