Civic Experiences and Public Connection. Media and Young People in Estonia

Kaun, A. (2012). Civic Experiences and Public Connection. Media and Young People in Estonia. Örebro: Örebro University.

Abstract: How do young people in Estonia experience the political, politics and citizenship? How are these civic experiences connected to young peoples’ experiences with the media? Anne Kaun’s thesis Civic Experiences and Public Connection presents a theoretical and empirical investigation of how civic experiences, particularly public connection, emerge in the context of contemporary Estonia. Employing open-ended online diaries and in-depth interviews, she aims to develop an in-depth understanding of how young people experience democracy today, and how they express themselves as citizens; expression not only through the physical performance of citizenship, but also through orientation, interest in, and reflection about issues that are of common concern or should be seen as such. The empirical investigation of public connection as critical media connection, playful public connection and historical public connection, is based on narrative analysis and embedded in a theoretical exploration of key concepts in the context of civic culture studies, namely the political, politics and citizenship. Combining Chantal Mouffe’s conflict theory with Paul Ricoeur’s narrative identity, Kaun aims to shed light on contemporary democracy from the citizens’ perspective. The author proposes a holistic approach to both civic experiences and the role that media might play in relation to them. Following a non-media-centric approach, she shows that media, despite their ubiquity, are an important but not exclusive source of the civic experiences of young adults in Estonia.