Thursday, February 25, 2010

Literature Review Step 2

Greetings Boxelders,

I'm in the thick of my lit review marathon now, but I can see the end. Meaning, our written literature review (first draft) is due next week (I think), so wrap it up, keyboard cat.

Civic engagement is a vast topic that has been well-studied, but if I were to loosely lump the studies into general categories, those categories would look something like this:

-civic activism and political knowledge of past generations compared to that of current generations
-decline of traditional forms of civic engagement
-explanations for voting increases in the past three elections
-analysis of factors that affect engagement (education, age, gender, income, home environment, geographical area, ethnic background, etc.)
-how/why certain groups may be disenfranchised (prevented from voting by structual inequalities in the social or political system)
-how to increase youth civic engagement
-teaching civic engagement in the schools
-why attempts to increase engagement have failed
-microanalysis of specific elections and what techniques were used to increase voting among young people
-the positive and negative impacts of new technologies on civic engagement

As for adolescent psychology, to avoid articles about eating, sleeping, and drug use patterns of teenagers, I modified my search with the phrase "and Internet", which yielded mostly articles of this type:

-video/computer games and their effect on developing minds
-Internet or gaming addiction (often in relation to aggression or social problems)
-Internet usage among youth who have neurological impairments such as autism, anxiety disorders, language disabilities, etc.
-Internet usage patterns among developmentally normal youth
-adolescent perceptions about the Internet
-the Internet's affect on social behavior or social capital
-youth exposure to sex, violence, and predators on the Internet
-how the Internet has changed the form of civic engagement
-youth access to health information on the Internet

The articles most relevant to my study, however, pertain to attitudes towards political engagement as revealed through the language of young adult English speakers on Internet forums within the United States (gender is not a variable in my study). So I picked up some more peer-reviewed articles:

"Self-Presentation and Interaction in Blogs of Adolescents and Young Emerging Adults"

"Realizing the Social Internet? Online Social Networking Meets Offline Social Capital"

"Negotiating the Global and National: Immigrant and Dominant-Culture Adolescents' Vocabularies of Citizenship in a Transnational World"

"Bridging Civic Engagement and Voting Behavior: A Theory of Political Identity"

Today I wondered if teenagers ever post inflammatory comments on forums just to get a rise out of people, to attract attention, or as a form of acting out. I also wondered if maybe Internet forums only attract young adults who are already disengaged, so maybe I won't be getting a representative sample at all. I'm assuming here that youth who are engaged have less time to spend surfing and commenting on Internet forums. And that people who are shy are less inclined to be engaged in their community and more likely to be comfortable in front of a computer, away from the pressures of other people. So I put this article on my "maybe" list:

"Shyness and Locus of Control as Predictors of Internet Addiction and Internet Use"

In my Modern Grammars class I was also introduced to this little gem:
http://www.americancorpus.org/

American Corpus lets you search over 400 million words in American literature (both academic and non) for specific words and the phrases in which they most commonly occur. So if I find an interesting phrase or word choice on these forums I'm observing, I could check its popular usage by entering the word into this corpus database. Neat, huh? So if I come across forum comments like "We went to the store and morgue" and "I smothered his face with mashed potatoes" and "Hector jumped the shark and landed upside down," I won't feel lost at all.