The New Youth Activism

352 pages

May, 2016

ISBN: 9781479899982

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Henry Jenkins is the Provost’s Professor of Communication, Journalism, Cinematic Arts and Education at the University of Southern California.

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Sangita Shresthova is the Director of Henry Jenkins’s Media, Activism & Participatory Politics (MAPP) project based at USC.

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Liana Gamber-Thompson is a Program Associate at the National Writing Project and the Community Manager for Connected Learning TV.

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Neta Kligler-Vilenchik is Assistant Professor of Communication at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

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Arely M. Zimmerman is Assistant Professor of Ethnic Studies at Mills College in Oakland, California.

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The participatory politics and civic engagement of youth in the digital age. 
There is a widespread perception that the foundations of American democracy are dysfunctional, public trust in core institutions is eroding, and little is likely to emerge from traditional politics that will shift those conditions. Youth are often seen as emblematic of this crisis—frequently represented as uninterested in political life, ill-informed about current-affairs, and unwilling to register and vote.

By Any Media Necessary offers a profoundly different picture of contemporary American youth.  Young men and women are tapping into the potential of new forms of communication such as social media platforms, spreadable videos and memes, remixing the language of popular culture, and seeking to bring about political change—by any media necessary. In a series of case studies covering a diverse range of organizations, networks, and movements involving young people in the political process—from the Harry Potter Alliance which fights for human rights in the name of the popular fantasy franchise to immigration rights advocates using superheroes to dramatize their struggles—By Any Media Necessary examines the civic imagination at work. Before the world can change, people need the ability to imagine what alternatives might look like and identify paths by which change can be achieved. Exploring new forms of political activities and identities emerging from the practice of participatory culture, By Any Media Necessary reveals how these shifts in communication have unleashed a new political dynamism in American youth.


  • “Readers are given a nuanced picture of the successes and complications of youth activism and participatory politics in the current era.”

    Choice Connect

  • By Any Media Necessary is fascinating continuation of Jenkins’s previous work and should be of great use for media studies scholars, as well as anyone interested in better understanding youth perceptions and actions related to the political realm.”

    Journal of American Culture

  • “A far-reaching book that explores the many different digital strategies and platforms young people use to have their voices heard and their political agendas advanced. The case studies at the heart of this book are powerful, telling the story of how young people across demographic categories are using digital media to engage in a new form of politics—Participatory Politics—that is destined to significantly shape civic life for years to come.”

    —Cathy J. Cohen, author of Democracy Remixed: Black Youth and the Future of American Politics

  • “An indispensable guide to the changing shape of civic and political agency in a digital age. With richly detailed case studies, Jenkins and his team have captured an origin story: the moment when participatory culture got hooked up with politics and the fundamentals of modern democracies shifted beneath our feet.”

    —Danielle Allen, co-editor of From Voice to Influence: Understanding Citizenship in the Digital Age

  • “Fantasy is not an escape from our world; it’s an invitation to go deeper into it. The most relevant book of our era, it will undoubtedly inspire you and those you love to join the millions of people who are transforming our world: by any media necessary.”

    —Andrew Slack, creator/co-founder of the Harry Potter Alliance

  • “A much-needed narration of political agency that tackles its many contradictions head on, without losing sight of nuance. The book’s case studies, rich in detail, are wonderful invitations to think more and better about the role of empathy, care, ethics, empowerment, and participation in our contemporary political realities.”

    —Nico Carpentier, Uppsala University, Sweden

  • “Understanding the connections between practices of media consumption and enduring civic engagement is one of the most exciting challenges that cultural studies currently faces. For over a decade, Henry Jenkins has been exploring this issue, and now he and an excellent team of co-authors offer the most searching examination of this question for a U.S. context that we have.  An inspiring and enlivening book, this is a definite must read!”

    —Nick Couldry, London School of Economics and Political Science

  • "The shape of civic involvement in America and around the world is changing dramatically. Young people aren't losing interest in changing the world, but they are doing it differently than their parents. By Any Media Necessary is a must-read overview of the ways young people are making change in the world by making and disseminating media. The case studies and examples within are a comprehensive introduction to an important shift in contemporary civics."

    —Ethan Zuckerman, author of Digital Cosmopolitans: Why We Think the Internet Connects Us, Why It Doesn't, and How t


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