Over the past few decades, we’ve seen dramatic increases in grassroots access to the means of cultural production and circulation and improvements to the infrastructure required for collective action (Jenkins, Ford, and Green, 2013). This participatory turn in culture has been mirrored by shifts in the ways citizens are collectively and individually exerting power within the political process. Young men and women who learned how to use their cameras recording skateboarding videos, to mashup images to make cute cat pictures, to edit making fan videos, are now turning their skills towards political speech and grassroots mobilization. These “creative activists” are often speaking to each other through images borrowed from commercial entertainment but remixed to communicate their own messages; they are often deploying social media tools and platforms, sometimes in ways that challenge corporate interests; and they are forging communities through acts of media circulation. We propose that members of a networked society are beginning to apply what is learned through play within participatory culture towards more purposeful realms, such as education, religion, and politics.
Our book’s title, By Any Media Necessary, which plays on a phrase coined by the French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre and made famous by Malcolm X, is inspired by these highly motivated youth taking advantage of any and every available media channel to tell their stories. The Media, Activism, and Participatory Politics (MAPP) research team at the University of Southern California, has developed case studies of innovative networks and organizations that have deployed participatory politics to get young people involved in efforts to heighten public awareness and promote social change. These groups are largely youth driven communities with low thresholds to participation, make effective use of new media platforms, seek strategies that bridge the cultural and the political, and represent a broad spectrum of demographics, causes, and organizational structures. Research on the case studies included in this book was carried out over a period of four years and included interviews, participant observation and media content analysis.
By Any Media Necessary represents the culmination of this research, comparing and contrasting across the individual case studies in order to propose a fuller conceptual model for thinking about how such organizations scaffold and sustain participatory politics. This work builds on (and contributes to) the MacArthur Foundation Youth and Participatory Politics research network's concept of participatory politics. The book can be purchased through the NYU Press website and on Amazon.
This path is divided into pages that mirror the chapters in By Any Media Necessary. Each page contains a description of the chapter and links to ALL media discussed therein. It is our hope that you'll be able to follow this path as you read the book in order to access the media that makes each case study so rich. If you haven't read the book, we hope these examples will pique your interest and help you gain a greater sense of each case study's significance and the authors' theoretical contributions.