Over the last decade a great deal of research attention has been paid to the Internet as a potential vehicle for civic and/or political engagement among young people. Many of these analyses have been looking (or perhaps hoping) for a simple cause-and-effect relationship. Young people seem uninterested in traditional forms of politics, but they are very interested in Internet use—so in what ways might the Internet be able to “bring them back” to politics? Research has often treated the Internet as a potential resource for making the unengaged engaged, as well as a useful resource for already engaged young people. Drawing on recently conducted focus groups with various groups of young people (15–25 years old), this article analyzes a different relationship between the Internet and “unengaged” young people: how young people's Internet practices sometimes become their very reason for engagement. In the focus groups this kind of interest arose in respect of two interrelated aspects of the interviewees' everyday Internet use: their file-sharing practices and the threat of surveillance. The article presents young people's constructions of these themes—that is, how young people themselves perceive and make sense of them. The article's concluding section contextualizes these findings, mainly by relating them to the current success of the Swedish Piracy Party (Piratpartiet), which made it to the European Parliament in the elections of June 2009. The party has ideologically profiled itself around these issues and has been successful in attracting young people. Finally, the article discusses the findings in the light of theories of generations.
Social Sciences Media and Communications
Samhällsvetenskap Medie- och kommunikationsvetenskap
SOCIAL SCIENCES Other social sciences Media and communication studies
SAMHÄLLSVETENSKAP Övrig samhällsvetenskap Medie- och kommunikationsvetenskap