Empowering citizens

How new media facilitate civic engagement

This PhD project aims to investigate how citizens use different forms of new media as a political tool. The project particularly focuses on citizens who create their own media content, such as online political video games, political remix videos and political machinimas. These media practices, forms of user-generated content (UGC), are seen as creative works that are usually embedded in a framework of popular culture. By reappropriating this material, either through remixing with own material, news footage, or gameplay for example, a new critical reading is created in the form of a social and/or political commentary about a certain issue relevant to the creator. As such, this type of media practice can be regarded a specific expression of civic engagement. This project includes explorations on three dimensions: the creators, the audience and the media text itself.

However, up until now, little research has been conducted from this perspective. The project includes three dimensions. First, there is a focus on the creators of such media texts. The central question aims to answer what the creators’ intentions and motivations are to participate in public debate in this way. The project sheds light on who creates this content and how the act of creation relates to creators’ own civic engagement. Another questions relates to the reasons why creators chose this particular medium to express themselves and not another as well as to explore what developers and creators expect, if anything, in terms of effects and impact on their viewers and players.

Second, this project focuses on viewers and players. It is first important to identify who consume and use these texts as they are usually not (yet) main stream. A larger focus, however, is put on the exploration of how (to what extent and for how long) watching and playing with such media texts affects civic engagement.Finally, other factors (i.e. political interest, topic) that might be of importance in the further facilitation of civic engagement will be taken into account as well.

Finally, the different media texts themselves are investigated and analysed. As there is little known about these particular forms of media this part of the research provides an overview of and insight in this emerging field.

This three tiered approach allows to contribute to a further understanding of notions of empowerment and active citizenship taking contemporary media expressions and activities as a point of departure.

Research team

Joyce Neys, MSc

PhD Candidate

Portrait Joyce Neys

Prof. dr. Jeroen Jansz


Portrait picture of Jeroen Jansz


Academic publications related to PhD project:

Neys, J. (2014). Political Remix. In Kerric Harvey (ed.), The Encyclopedia of Social Media and Politics. Volume 3, pp 1064-1066. London: Sage.

Neys, J. (2014). Social Media Political Gaming. In Kerric Harvey (ed.), The Encyclopedia of Social Media and Politics. Volume 3, pp 1171-1173. London: Sage.

Neys, J. (2014). Vote Different. In Kerric Harvey (ed.), The Encyclopedia of Social Media and Politics. Volume 3, pp 1335-1336. London: Sage.

De Grove, F., van Looy, J., Neys, J., & Jansz, J. (2012). Playing in School or at Home? An Exploration of the Effects of Context on Educational Game Experience. The Electronic Journal of e-Learning, 10(2), 199-208.

Neys, J.L.D. & Jansz, J. (2010). Engaging an audience: political internet games. European Journal of Communication, 25(3), 227-241. doi:10.1177/0267323110373456

Popular publications related to PhD project:

Neys, J. & Jansz, J. (2014). Games en Burgerschap. 4W: Weten Wat Werkt Waarom, 3(2), 22-29. 4 juni 2014. http://4w.kennisnet.nl/artikelen/2014/06/04/games-en-burgerschap/

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