The Age of Engagement

The Age of Engagement
Empowering citizens in the global public sphere

Subnet series talk
23 July 2012
Schloss Leopoldskron, Salzburg Global Seminar


We live in an age of unparalleled connectivity, choice and mobility, yet at the same time we are faced with information fatigue, complexity and interdependent global challenges. How can citizens make sense of today’s world? Why and how do we choose to engage or disengage – not just with politics and public affairs, but also with each other? Is “engagement” replacing the established institutions and processes of liberal democracies? Is global citizenship the only way forward? And what, precisely, is the role of the media in all this?

Over the last decade I have been researching young people’s media uses as well as their patterns of engagement with politics and global affairs. At the same time I have also been observing long-term shifts to our civic culture and the global scene – increased populism, extremism and uncertainty. In this speech given as part of Subnet’s partnership with the Salzburg Global Seminar, I reflect on some of the key findings emerging from my research so far and consider the challenges and opportunities facing us in this Age of Engagement.