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Youth information in a network society


Accepted at the Second International Symposium on Language and Communication, ILCS Institute of Language and Communication Studies, University of Izmir, Turkey (June 17-19, 2013).


Youth information in a network society: the case of Youth Information Centers in Campania

Angela Delli Paoli1,Stefania Leone2

1 University of Salerno, Fisciano, Italy, adellipaoli@unisa.it

2 University of Salerno, Fisciano, Italy, sleone@unisa.it

Keywords: Information, network society, youth, Youth Information Centers


Problem statement

The paper deals with the problem of youth information in a network society. First, it analyzes the structural transformations associated with the diffusion of ICT and the challenge deriving from the emergence of a new form of social organization based on networking (Castells, 1999; 2002; 2005). Second, it focuses on the adjustments required to institutional information in order to take advantage of the benefits deriving from the technology.

Youth information is an acknowledged need within European youth policies which conceptualize information as a prerequisite for civic participation and exhorts EU countries to create appropriate information and counseling services (Youth Information Centers) able to make information available as widely as possible to youth (recommendation 7, 1990). 


Purpose of the study

The analysis aims to identify the features which information should be brimmed with to be efficient for youth civic participation and growth in the era of glocality (Meyrowitz, 2005, 24-25) where the inevitable localness of experience combines with the reality of globalization made possible by forms of communication bridging distances.

To do so, it also takes into account examples of youth e-citizenship and digital democracy (e.g.: citizenship journalism, online petitioning and so on) which testify the potential of information to turn in civic participation. Thus, the research question is: are public administrations able to leverage on this potential?


In order to answer to the research question we carry out a research on a sample of Youth Information Centers in Campania (Italy) through a two-step procedure which mixes a qualitative method (participant observation) and a quantitative one (questionnaire). Particularly, it draws on ethnographical notes of young participant observers who worked within such centers as interns in order to build a structured questionnaire covering different dimensions of information Service.


Findings and the results

The analysis demonstrates the inefficacy of such centers in stimulating youth information and participation. It shows that the majority of such centers are local nodes disconnected from national, European and international levels of information (the majority of them does not have an autonomous website and does not provide access to European information networks). They do not act as glocal nodes but as traditional information agency which do not go beyond geographical boundaries and maintain an outdated concept of face-to-face information.



The failure of Youth Information Centers - testified by their modest number of young users and due to their inefficiency in adapting to structural and social transformations - shows how the traditional model of youth information is premised on a model of youth which is out of phase with the life styles of many young people. In fact, the self-actualizing styles of civic participation common among digital natives (Prensky, 2001) and visible in online civic engagement websites (Bennett, Wells, Rank, 2009) (e.g. online consultation, voting and petitioning) break down the arbitrary distinction between local and global, public and private, producers and consumers and demonstrate that, in order to be a catalyst of civic engagement, information need to broaden its horizon to new processes, contents and targets.