A Practice-Based Approach to Online Participation: Young People’s Participatory Habitus as a Source of Diverse Online Engagement

Giovanna Mascheroni


Based on comparative qualitative research with 14- to 25-year-olds in Italy and the UK, this study draws on Bourdieu’s theory of practice and culturalist perspectives on citizenship, and situates participation as a socially embedded, contingent online/offline practice that is shaped by the interrelation between participatory habitus, differential access to resources, and the political context. Young people’s diversity is manifested in their different vocabularies of participation, which include a vocabulary of (a) citizenship orientations, (b) citizenship practices, and (c) digital engagement. Based on vocabularies of participation, 5 participatory habitus were identified: the legitimate, the critical, the alternative, the radical antagonist, and the excluded. Each participatory habitus is produced by different combinations of resources and political experiences, and in turn shapes how young people participate on- and offline.


young people, Internet, participation, social media, participatory habitus

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