The personal may become political

Civic Action28 Sep 2011Maarten van den Berg

In a contemporary variation on the 1970s slogan ‘the personal is political’, young people today employ social media to connect with others, build social lives and – at times – set out to partake in political action.

That is one of the possible conclusions of the conference ‘The changing face of collective action’ hosted by the Dutch NGO Hivos in The Hague earlier this month. That people can and do feel empowered by the opportunities that Internet and other communication technologies (ICTs) afford, was perhaps best expressed by Brazilian ‘hacktivist’ Pedro Markun. ‘We were bored as citizens’, he said, ‘until we found that we could use our technology to make a difference’.

This and other inspiring people abounded at the conference, and in the book ‘Digital (Alter)Natives with a cause’ launched there – a collection of essays packed with examples of how technology-savvy youth engage with the world and occasionally set out to change it.

For a review of the book, read my article here at the website of The Broker. For reports of the conference, and information about the organisers, please refer to the citizen action theme page at the website of the Hivos Knowledge Programme.