Constructive Disruption: Young people’s engagement with data and policymaking

Robinson, Jill (2021) Constructive Disruption: Young people’s engagement with data and policymaking. Doctoral thesis, Birmingham City University.

Jill Robinson PhD Thesis published_Final version_Submitted Dec 2021_Final Award May 2022.pdf - Accepted Version

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This thesis is set against the backdrop of the growing threats to citizens’ fundamental human rights posed by the growing domination of digital media and communications by global corporations and the economic and social challenges, faced by governments in particular, which followed the collapse of confidence in global markets of 2007/8 and the resulting ‘years of austerity’. It examines young people’s social and cultural inequalities in an urban context in which central government has been encouraging local government to make greater use of digital technologies to inform policymaking.

It is framed by a reflexive, interactive research collaboration with Beatfreeks; a youth engagement company in Birmingham, UK which uses creative practices to empower young people to “challenge themselves and the world in which they find themselves” ( This methodological approach has enabled me to embed myself in the company and undertake a close ethnographically informed study of the ways of working of its founder, the young members of the team and the interactions between them and policymakers. These have included participating in the analysis of alternative non-digital forms of data obtained through their own surveys of young people’s everyday lives and observing events at which the findings were shared with institutional influencers and policymakers.

Findings from my research show that through the use of creativity and emotion in these activities it is possible to capture their attention and cause them to engage in dialogue with the young people involved. They also reveal that the data practices within local government may lead to deficitizing normative narratives about young people’s lives. I argue, however, that the gathering, analysis and creative communication of small-scale non-digital data by young people may enable a youth engagement organisation to disrupt the unequal power relationship between young people and policymakers.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
31 December 2021Accepted
27 May 2022Submitted
Uncontrolled Keywords: Young people; youth engagement; youth inequalities; urban policymakers; data and datafication; power and resistance
Subjects: CAH15 - social sciences > CAH15-01 - sociology, social policy and anthropology > CAH15-01-03 - social policy
CAH24 - media, journalism and communications > CAH24-01 - media, journalism and communications > CAH24-01-05 - media studies
Divisions: Doctoral Research College > Doctoral Theses Collection
Faculty of Arts, Design and Media > College of English and Media
Depositing User: Jaycie Carter
Date Deposited: 30 Sep 2022 14:34
Last Modified: 30 Sep 2022 14:34

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