Learning connected civics: Narratives, practices, infrastructures

Mizuko Ito, Elisabeth Soep*, Neta Kligler-Vilenchik, Sangita Shresthova, Liana Gamber-Thompson, Arely Zimmerman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

65 Scopus citations


Bringing together popular culture studies and sociocultural learning theory, in this paper we formulate the concept of “connected civics,” grounded in the idea that young people today are engaging in new forms of politics that are profoundly participatory. Often working in collaboration with adult allies, they leverage digital media and emerging modes of connectivity to achieve voice and influence in public spheres. The rise of participatory politics provides new opportunities to support connected civics, which is socially engaged and embedded in young people’s personal interests, affinities, and identities. We posit three supports that build consequential connections between young people’s cultural affinities, their agency in the social world, and their civic engagement: 1. By constructing hybrid narratives, young people mine the cultural contexts they are embedded in and identify with for civic and political themes relevant to issues of public concern. 2. Through shared civic practices, members of affinity networks lower barriers to entry and multiply opportunities for young people to engage in civic and political action. 3. By developing cross-cutting infrastructure, young people–often with adults–institutionalize their efforts in ways that make a loosely affiliated network into something that is socially organized and self-sustaining. Drawing from a corpus of interviews and case studies of youth affinity networks at various sites across the US, this paper recasts the relationship between connected learning, cultural production, and participatory politics.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)10-29
Number of pages20
JournalCurriculum Inquiry
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2015
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 The Author(s). Published by Taylor & Francis.


  • Connected learning
  • Digital media
  • Participatory politics
  • Youth culture


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