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Exploring Identity and Citizenship in a Virtual World

Stewart Martin
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Stewart Martin: Centre for Educational Studies, University of Hull, Hull, UK

International Journal of Virtual and Personal Learning Environments (IJVPLE), 2012, vol. 3, issue 4, 53-70

Abstract: Digital technology is able to modify deep-rooted views (Martin & Vallance, 2008) and facilitate identity articulation (Bers, 2001). During adolescence young people are developing their personal identity framed through the context of family, friends and cultural and religious inheritance. The complex dynamics between ’self,’ upbringing, cultural background, religious belief and social context may produce a sense of acceptance and welcome, feelings social engagement, or lead to anomie, social rejection, personal failure, disaffection or radicalisation. In multicultural, pluralistic democracies the emergence of trans-national political structures and the rise of international tensions have increased concerns about the nature of, and entitlement to, citizenship. This paper describes the Citizenship Project’s virtual world study of identity development in young people, using real-world scenarios to discover what values underpin engagement with political issues and citizenship, how they receive the concerns and values of others and how virtual worlds can promote social inclusion and cohesion.

Date: 2012
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