Cleve V. Arguelles (@CleveArguelles) researches on election, democracy, digital citizenship and populism in Southeast Asia. He is PhD candidate at the department of political and social change at the Coral Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs of the Australian National University. Prior to joining ANU, he is assistant professor and head of political science program at the University of the Philippines in Manila.
Is youth really wasted on the young? Emerging politics of digital citizenship among young Southeast Asians
Are millennials politically apathetic? Drawing from a digital ethnography of the varied practices of digital citizenship among young Southeast Asians, this presentation argues for an alternative approach to understanding the seeming “political apathy” among contemporary Southeast Asian youth. Using a generational lens, this paper argues that the politics of the youth of today is expectedly different and misrecognized because of differing social, economic, and political moments that have shaped their political dispositions. To measure millennials against standards of political participation derived from the experiences of previous generations is unproductive. Rather, what we are seeing among young Southeast Asians is an enthusiasm in novel, creative and disruptive forms of civic engagement that have yet to be appreciated as equally significant and political. This is especially true for their innovative use of a range of social media platforms to create spaces for political engagement. I consider this the practice of digital citizenship, or the production and consumption of digital contents as a means to create and engage in the social world, in which I demonstrate in this presentation is an emerging form of politics among young Southeast Asians.