Document Type

Journal Article


Department of Communication Studies


Rethinking Mediated Political Engagement: Social Media Ambivalence and Disconnective Practices of Politically Active Youths in Hong Kong


The resurgence of youth involvement in mass protests since the turn of 2010’s (Sukarieh & Tannock, 2015) has fueled interest in the impact of social media on the political engagement of “the networked young citizen” (Loader, Vromen, & Xenos, 2014, p. 143). This line of research, however, has been disproportionately centered on the strengths of social media in providing alternative and empowering spaces for political engagement (Vromen, Xenos, & Loader, 2015) with little attention to the drawbacks of engaging with politics through these platforms (Ekström, 2016). In addition, current literature on the dynamics between social media and social movements has mostly focused on the connective action enabled by media technologies (Bennett & Segerberg, 2012) while neglecting activists’ disconnection and deliberate non-usage of technology (Kaun & Treré, 2018). In this study, we address the lack of attention in current literature to young people’s deliberate disengagement and active non-participation with politics on social media. Through in-depth interviews with 20 politically active youths in Hong Kong, who took part in a large- scale civil disobedience protest offline but eschew political talk online, we examine why they disengage with politics on social media and how they make social media work for them. Focusing on their disengagement enables us to flesh out not only the pitfalls of mediated participation but also the shifting and increasingly challenging sociopolitical climate for political engagement in contemporary media environments. We further contribute to extant scholarship and debates on the dynamics of youth political participation vis-à-vis social media by highlighting the ambivalent relationships that young people have with politics online arising from their relational, practical, and experiential concerns.

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Chinese Journal of Communication


Taylor & Francis



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