Persistence of social media on political activism and engagement among Indonesian & Pakistani youths

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In recent years, the emergence of social media has encouraged and influenced young people to participate in political issues. This study was conducted in Indonesia and Pakistan. The purpose of this study is to analyze the persistence of social media and youth political participation in democratic activities. This study chose quantitative studies from offline and online surveys to get data from four hundred (400) youths, who have political experience and knowledge about participation. Data is collected through a structured questionnaire using a scale to compile the results and the data through Excel and SPSS software. The study found that social media provides a unique platform for young people to participate in political activism. The involvement of healthy youth in such activities can play an important role in the country’s political structure. It was also observed that youth participation is very important for the country’s prosperity and growth.

During election year, there is a phenomenon of increasing youth participation in Indonesia and Pakistan. Discussions emerged about youths in developed and developing countries focusing on youth contribution to the political structure. The use of social media attracted the attention of 200 million users in Indonesia and Pakistan. This paper tries to raise awareness on the importance of social media today. Social media play an important role in political structure, raising awareness and increasing political efficacy in particular. Similar practices in the Arab spring period have forced young people to use social media for political oppression. Critical debates about contemporary media have forced young people to use social media for their freedom of expression and participation. The main obstacle to participating in the practice is because media house owners have strong ties or affiliations with political regimes. However, in such cases, they can risk the proper function of democracy.

In the history of Indonesian politics, the role of students is known and valued. In Suharto period, young people contributed to political issues. They organized and participated in protests against the Suharto regime in power in 1998. This involvement has increased and motivated young people to participate in the country’s political problems. In global era, science and technology are developing rapidly. Nowadays, information and communication technology (ICT) has proven to be a very reliable way to get information. Social media has become a major necessity for everyone.

However, various types of information are easily found in various parts of the world by accessing media through the internet. This paper discusses the democratic situation of Indonesia and Pakistan. In Indonesia, young people are likely to use social media for political campaigns and building awareness for common goals. While in Pakistan, young people use social media accounts to support their associations, political parties, and talk about common problems. Freedom of speech in both countries provides opportunities for youths to take part in national or shared interests. Furthermore, they only have a suitable ‘social media’ platform where they can talk freely and show their existence, and this is a fast-developing tool for e-participation. Electronic media such as television or news channels have been ruled by the capitalist economy controlling the mainstream media. The current phenomenon attracts the attention of social media users participating in youth online and offline political engagement.

The internet and social media practice in the democratic process are focused on social institutions, government and communication systems. The presence of social media can strengthen or weaken political values in society. This encourages freedom of expression among the public to participate in all forms of state actions. So, both countries have discussed the importance of social media. As such, young people participate freely and involve peer groups as part of their events. A study found that social media provides opportunities for citizens to make decisions based on choices, needs, and participate through Internet and social media programs.

There is hope that citizens will be able to increase their involvement and achieve their own goals better. The experience of youth and democracy in Indonesia, a study conducted by Lim showed that Indonesia has dramatically changed the authoritarian regime to democracy. Therefore, the situation in Pakistan, political parties have changed their strategy to mobilize and integrate their voters through social media. Almost all political parties have their own social media accounts. Many political parties engage the public through social media, but the most prominent was Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), led by former cricket star Imran Khan. These political organizations highly active in social media, and posting and replying to comments is very normal.

This article shows the persistence and use of social media in the practice of democracy and political involvement among youth. The study found that social media platforms facilitate young people to get information about social and political affairs. It offers online public space to express their opinions through political activism. Social media users may also be able to comment, post and can be involved in online participation. The results also found that youth in Indonesia and Pakistan are often involved in online politics that can increase their political efficacy and illuminate their efforts towards political change.

Furthermore, previous arguments support that the application ‘Facebook’ and Instagram are good instruments for utilizing young people. They can express and discuss their problems freely. The theoretical model of Jürgen Habermas and Dahlgren in this study found that the structural, representational and interactional dimensions come from the public to have the opportunity to be involved in social media, and to discuss politics and to interact with each other in public spaces offline and online. The current study shows that the Governments of Indonesia and Pakistan have a good opportunity to utilize the use of social media platforms to engage the youth population for socio-political awareness.

Author: Muhammad Saud

Details of this research available at:

Rachmah Ida, Muhammad Saud, Mustain Mashud. 2020. Persistence of Social Media on Political Activism and Engagement among Indonesian & Pakistani youths.

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Media komunikasi dan informasi seputar kampus Universitas Airlangga (Unair).

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