How Young People Use New Media in Political Participation in Russia and Kazakhstan

Main Article Content

Yerkebulan Sairambay

Keywords

New Media, Political Participation, Political Spectacle, Virtual Agora, Political Coliseum, Russia, Kazakhstan

Abstract

In the study of political participation, the question arises of whether young people use new media as a “political spectacle,” “virtual agora,” or “political coliseum.” This article examines how young citizens use new media in political participation in Russia and Kazakhstan. Drawing on surveys conducted using Qualtrics (N = 2,400) and semistructured interviews (N = 90) carried out in 54 cities, towns, and villages in 2019–2020, I demonstrate that both Russian and Kazakhstani young people use new media as a mixture of political spectacle, virtual agora, and political coliseum. Results revealed that online activists and observers are increasing in numbers in both countries. However, based on the experiences (actions) and views (opinions) of respondents, the most numerous new-media users are apolitical people in Kazakhstan and observers (spectators) in Russia. I also found that for some young people intentional political disengagement and disenchantment might signify political contestation. Online and offline political participation in the forms of contestation is more frequently observed in urban than rural areas in both countries, and participation in “alternative” forms of protests such as monstrations seems to be becoming popular among young Russians and Kazakhstanis. My study sheds light on how new media are used in political participation in the postcommunist context, contributing to cross-national comparative studies of non-Western political systems.


Article in English

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