Youth, Elections and Social Media: Understanding the Critical (Di)Stance Between Young People and Political Party Messaging

  • Vanessa Malila
  • Noko Pela


This chapter examines the interpretations and meaning-making amongst young people at Rhodes University, South Africa, of political party messages during the 2016 local government elections on social media. In addition, the chapter seeks to understand whether youth at Rhodes University actively sought out political party messages on social media or whether the messages they encountered were incidental on their timelines. Finally, the chapter provides an understanding of whether the media messages resonated with the young people and spoke to the issues faced by them in their particular context. Using qualitative research methods and through the lens of Stuart Hall’s models of reception analysis, the chapter uncovers the particular relationship that young people had with political party messages on social media in the 2016 local government elections. It argues that rather than the often-lamented apathetic youth, these young people are actively engaged and highly critical of what they engage with online.


Elections Youth Social media Protests Political party messages 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Vanessa Malila
    • 1
  • Noko Pela
    • 1
  1. 1.Public Service Accountability MonitorRhodes UniversityGrahamstownSouth Africa

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