Mechanisms of Translation: From Online Participatory Cultures to Participatory Politics

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This article focuses on ways that participants in online participatory cultures can come to engage civically, developing their voice into meaningful social change. I propose the notion of “mechanisms of translation” as an explanatory mechanism linking the cultural and the political realm. Through mechanisms of translation, groups can leverage the same spaces, practices, and language that are honed in the context of online participatory cultures and are employed by participants for sociability and enjoyment to extend participatory politics and achieve civic goals. Using the case study of the Nerdfighters, an informal fan community encouraging civic action, I argue for the importance of out-of-school, youth-driven participatory spaces, exemplify how mechanisms of translation build on cultural skills, and consider why the “translation process” may be smoother toward some forms of influence (particularly consensual civics) than others (contentious politics).
Original languageAmerican English
JournalJournal of Digital and Media Literacy
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - 2016


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