›Politics‹ under (de)construction – young people’s negotiations of ›politics‹ in mediatized everyday worlds
The focus of my PhD project is on young people’s negotiations of “politics” in contemporary media cultures. Theoretically grounded in mediatisation theory, current theorisations of “the political” and theories of media and subjectivisation in everyday life, the project aims to understand adolescents’ notions of “politics”, the ways in which young people approach and negotiate issues considered by them to be “politically/socially relevant”, and the role different media practices play in these negotiation processes. Based on some shortcomings in previous research on young people, “politics” and media culture, I develop an empirical approach that (a) does not predetermine a certain notion of “the political” but remains open for young people’s own interpretations, and (b) does not concentrate on a single medium or format but takes into account processes of media convergence and young people’s different “media repertoires” in their mediatised everyday lives. The main research question of my doctoral thesis is: how do young people approach, interpret and negotiate “politics” in contemporary media cultures and what role do different media practices play in the negotiation processes? For the theoretical framework, my thesis combines different approaches in order to develop an understanding of the processes of negotiating “politics” in everyday media cultures. First, mediatisation theory (Krotz 2007, 2009) helps to comprehend the complex interrelations of media change and changes in society and culture by focusing on the communicative construction of social reality. Second, different strands of feminist (political and media) theory are consulted to contour a notion of “the political” that challenges dichotomies such as “public vs. private” and “information vs. entertainment” (Bargetz/Sauer 2010; Klaus 1996; Sauer 2001). Furthermore, following a poststructuralist stance in current academic debate on “the political”, an idea of “the political” is formulated that emphasises the indispensable moments of dissent and conflict (cf. the articles in Bröckling/Feustel 2010; Mouffe 2005). Finally, references to the work of Gramsci and Foucault within communication, media and cultural studies, concerning struggles of hegemony and “orders of knowledge” in everyday media cultures (Langemeyer 2009; Thomas 2009, 2010), enable a focus on processes of subjectivisation and social power relations. The explorative research design brings together different qualitative methods such as semi-structured focus group discussions, open egocentric communication charts and creative visual methods, which allow for reflection and self-determination on the part of the research participants. The findings are expected to offer theoretically and empirically grounded insights into young people’s manifold and complex negotiations of “politics” in mediatised everyday life – thus contributing a differentiated and critical view to current academic and social debate, e.g. on young people’s disenchantment with “politics”.