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Enhancing agency through information : a phenomenographic exploration of young people's political information experiences

Smith, Lauren and McMenemy, David (2016) Enhancing agency through information : a phenomenographic exploration of young people's political information experiences. In: Proceedings of the 79th ASIS&T Annual Meeting. Association for Information Science and Technology. ISBN 0877155488

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Abstract

This paper reports the findings of research into young people's experiences of political information. We used a phenomenographic approach to identify variations in experiences of political information. The research explores how young people use information and technology to mediate political information to develop knowledge to become informed citizens. It focuses on how processes of discovery, production, retrieval, manipulation, dissemination, use, and evaluation of information are utilised in different ways by young people through a range of information behaviour techniques. 23 interviews and 3 focus groups were conducted with pupils aged 14-15 at a secondary school in England. The interviews and focus groups were recorded and transcripts and notes taken during the data collection sessions formed the data for analysis. Phenomenographic analysis was carried out, utilising manual coding and NVivo software. A phenomenographic outcome space represents the six qualitatively different ways in which the participants experienced political information, and identifies a range of political information sources, including social media and online news sources, which inform young people's political knowledge and attitudes. The outcome space illustrates the differences in ways young people experience political information and suggests potential for development to more complex ways of understanding the information they encounter. This represents a contribution to understanding the variation in information experiences and is of theoretical and practical value.