Open Access Journal

ISSN: 2183-2803

Review | Open Access

Muslim Young People Online: “Acts of Citizenship” in Socially Networked Spaces

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Abstract:  This paper reviews the current literature regarding Muslim young people’s online social networking and participatory practices with the aim of examining whether these practices open up new spaces of civic engagement and political participation. The paper focuses on the experiences of young Muslims living in western societies, where, since September 11, the ability to assert claims as citizens in the public arena has diminished. The paper draws upon Isin & Nielsen’s (2008) “acts of citizenship” to define the online practices of many Muslim youth, for whom the internet provides a space where new performances of citizenship are enacted outside of formal citizenship rights and spaces of participation. These “acts" are evaluated in light of theories which articulate the changing nature of publics and the public sphere in a digital era. The paper will use this conceptual framework in conjunction with the literature review to explore whether virtual, online spaces offer young Muslims an opportunity to create a more inclusive discursive space to interact with co-citizens, engage with social and political issues and assert their citizen rights than is otherwise afforded by formal political structures; a need highlighted by policies which target minority Muslim young people for greater civic participation but which do not reflect the interests and values of Muslim young people.

Keywords:  citizenship; civic engagement; Muslim young people; participatory practice; social media



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