Social activism: Engaging millennials in social causes

  • Michelle I. Seelig University of Miami
Keywords: social media, advocacy, media environments, mediated experiences, digital engagement

Abstract

Given that young adults consume and interact with digital technologies not only a daily basis, but extensively throughout the day, it stands to reason they are more actively involved in advocating social change particularly through social media. However, national surveys of civic engagement indicate civic and community engagement drops-off after high school and while millennials attend college. While past research has compiled evidence about young adults’ social media use and some social media behaviors, limited literature has investigated the audience’s perspective of social activism campaigns through social media. Research also has focused on the adoption of new technologies based on causal linkages between perceived ease of use and perceived usefulness, yet few studies have considered how these dynamics relate to millennials engagement with others using social media for social good. This project builds on past research to investigate the relationship between millennials’ online exposure to information about social causes and motives to take part in virtual and face-to-face engagement. Findings suggest that while digital media environments immerse participants in mediated experiences that merge both the off-line and online worlds, and has a strong effect on person’s influence to do something, unclear is the extent to which social media and social interactions influence millennials willingness to engage both online and in-person. Even so, the results of this study indicate millennials are open to using social media for social causes, and perhaps increasing engagement off-line too.

Author Biography

Michelle I. Seelig, University of Miami

Michelle Seelig received her Ph.D. from Florida State University. Seelig is Associate Professor at the University of Miami in the Department of Cinema and Interactive Media, where she teaches courses in visual communication, photography, film, interactive media, media activism, communication theory, and qualitative research. Her research focuses extensively on visual and interactive media, particularly how they change the way we communicate and interact in our everyday lives. Seelig recently published Communicating the Environment Beyond Photography, which is a modern look at how photographers visualize what is happening to people and places on a changing planet. Currently, Seelig is investigating the relationship between millennials’ online exposure to information about social causes and motives to take part in virtual and face-to-face engagement. Also, she is examining the visuals and text used in three leading skin care brands to uncover what green themes directly or indirectly communicates to consumers about a green ecology.

Published
2018-02-02
How to Cite
Seelig, M. I. (2018). Social activism: Engaging millennials in social causes. First Monday, 23(2). https://doi.org/10.5210/fm.v23i2.8125