Youth Activism and Social Media Tactics under Repression: The Case of Cambodia

Abstract

Digital media create new channels for young people to engage with civic and political issues outside the confines of traditional public institutions and discourses. The Arab Spring, Occupy Wall Street, and Black Lives Matter illustrate how youth leverage social media to exercise voice and participate in social movements (Cohen & Kahne, 2012; Herrera & Sakr, 2014; Howard & Hussain, 2013; Milkman, 2017). While social media present new opportunities for youth who were previously excluded from formal channels of political participation, increasingly, these platforms also subject young people to surveillance, censorship, and other forms of repression (Costanza-Chock, 2012; Shresthova, 2016). In this project, I examine youth activism in Cambodia, an authoritarian regime with a demographic youth bulge and rapidly increasing uptake of social media. Specifically, I explore how youth leverage social media to participate in democratization movements and protests under state control and surveillance. I am particularly interested in social media strategies and tactics youth employ to navigate contentious politics and express dissent.

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