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Participatory Culture, Learning and Politics


Based at the University of Southern California, Civic Paths explores continuities between online participatory culture and civic engagement through outreach, creative work, research, and academic inquiry. With low entry barriers, participatory culture-based communities often encourage online participation and expression even as they promote expression, awareness, mentorship, and skill training. Premised on a dynamic understanding of citizenship, we analyze how participatory culture interactions encourage young people to create, discuss and organize to engage with specific civic issues and events.


Civic Paths asks questions like: In a world where traditional forms of citizenship, politics, and civic life are rapidly changing, how are young people becoming more civic-minded and publicly engaged? How can digital technologies, participatory media, and social networking enable them to do so, and how are definitions of “civic” and “public” co-evolving with these practices, online and offline?


Civic Paths, which started as a small, informal group of graduate students interested in the ties between online participatory culture/popular media fandom and civic engagement in 2009, has grown into an established group with a national audience and an active web presence. Civic Paths holds weekly meetings members with active members attending each meeting (and has an active general membership of approximately 30 students and faculty). Current civic Paths members collectively work on group projects that shift from semester to semester and maintain a network of support for each other’s individual research projects.