Studying youth in the streets of the media city – Field notes on a relational perspective

Leena Suurpää, Johanna Sumiala, Titus Hjelm, Minttu Tikka

Abstract


How to study the youth in the media city, where the physical and the digital lives of young people often intertwine and overlap? What kinds of spatial entitlements and forms of control young people experience in a media city? How to grasp those issues in fieldwork, in a condition in which, ‘the street’, is constructed as a conceptual and empirical locus for ethnographic research. This article attempts to reflect upon these questions by providing some theoretical and empirical reflections based on media and street ethnographic fieldwork among youth in two contemporary media cities of Helsinki and London. The article draws its inspiration from the scholarly crossroads of sociology, youth studies, urban studies and media studies, and applies the concept of relationality to that framework. We examine aspects of relationality (among and between people, spaces and the media), which researchers confront when studying young people’s lives in the media city ethnographically. In order to understand the complex meanings that the street acquires when approached from the perspective of the youth in the media city, the issues related to the boundaries, (in)visibility and control connected with the idea of relationality are discussed in more detail. Our reflections are based on the project titled Youth Street Politics in the Media Age

Keywords


media city, fieldwork, relationality, street, youth

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.15847/obsOBS002015977