Mind, Culture, and Activity Call for papers for a Special Issue

Young People, Digital Mediation, and Transformative Agency

Mind, Culture, and Activity

Guest editors:

Associate Professor, PhD Anu Kajamaa and Professor PhD, Kristiina Kumpulainen, Learning, Culture and Interventions Expert Group (http://www.helsinki.fi/leci), Faculty of Educational Sciences, University of Helsinki, Finland

Contact: anu.kajamaa@helsinki.fi; kristiina.kumpulainen@helsinki.fi

Contents of the special issue

This special issue will include an editorial, five or six research papers selected by guest editors from the abstract proposals received, and an invited commentary. The requirements for acceptance are: 1) papers advance the research field dealing with young people (under 25 years old), digital mediation, and transformative agency; 2) papers demonstrate high theoretical and methodological quality; 3) authors commit to cross review one other manuscript of the special issue; and 4) non-English-speaking authors ensure their manuscripts are proofread by a native speaker. All papers will be cross reviewed by the authors in a double-blind review process following the journal’s normal review process and criteria, which will be sent to the contributors. The reviewers will be appointed and contacted by the guest editors.

Aims and scope of the special issue

The expansion of digital technologies and media, including the Internet, has resulted in major changes in the lives of many young people. New technologies and media have an impact on how young people spend their free time, how they interact and socialize with others, as well as how they discover and develop their identities in and out of educational institutions (e.g. Chaudron, 2015; Erstad & Sefton-Green, 2013; Ito, et al., 2013; Li et al., 2017).

Instead of focusing on the threats and concerns related to young people’s uncritical, passive, or consumerist engagement with the digital world and its effect on their values, habits, and identities (see e.g. Kirschner & De Bruyckere, 2017; Livingstone & Gorzig, 2012), this special issue focuses on the transformative potential of young people’s engagement with digital technologies and media in their everyday lives. Namely, it will illuminate empirical studies framed by sociocultural theorizing and cultural-historical activity theory (CHAT) that investigate how young people engage with and use digital technologies and media as agentive actors to co-author themselves and their worlds. In doing so, this special issue aims to unpack conditions and mechanisms that position young people as active, creative, and critical investigators of and with digital technologies for personal and social change across formal and everyday settings, online and off.

This special issue holds that limited research attention has been paid to young people’s transformative agency in their use of digital technologies and media. By transformative agency, we refer to young people’s tool-mediated activity that breaks away from the given or expected frame of action. Transformative agency is hence characterized by young people’s initiative and commitment to transform the context(s) of their activity for personal, academic, working life and/or civic ends (see e.g. Ito, et al, 2013; Rajala, Hilppö, Lipponen, & Kumpulainen, 2013; Stetsenko, 2008). Transformative agency holds potential for expansive learning, including the generation of new concepts, motives, and practices (e.g. Engeström, 2006; Haapasaari & Kerosuo, 2015; Sannino, 2015).

To these ends, this special issue welcomes articles examining topics, such as:

  • Young people’s creativity, imagination, and play in their use of digital technologies and media, including digital play, digital storytelling, social media participation, video production, digital making, interaction with YouTube content, and coding and robotics
  • Young people’s use of digital technologies and media in their networks/communities for personal and social change
  • Young people as designers and curators of their personal and communal lives via the use of digital technologies and media
  • Digital artifact/tool constellations and their transformative and critical use
  • Young people’s civic engagement and influence mediated by the use of digital technologies and media
  • Young people’s learning and identity development in the digital age

We also invite contributions that deal with other related topics. We appreciate papers establishing a dialogue between theory and practice, as well as both micro- and macro-level analysis. We are also interested in papers taking a critical stance toward young people’s transformative agency in the digital world. The papers can focus on a variety of research contexts, such as schools and other educational organizations, after-school activities, university–school collaboration, museums, libraries, and other communities of science and culture, digital platforms, the outdoors, and other contexts across everyday life.

Tentative timeline

  • Abstracts to guest editors by February 15th, 2018 (max. 500 words, excluding the list of references). Contributors should submit abstracts of their paper proposal to (anu.kajamaa@helsinki.fi) as an e-mail attachment (Word doc. files only). Please indicate in the title of your e-mail: “Submission for the special Issue for MCA”
  • Notification of abstract acceptance and invitation to submit full paper by February 28th, 2018
  • Deadline for submission of accepted full papers: September 1, 2018 (up to 8,000 words, including references). When preparing the full paper, please view the instructions for authors
  • First round of reviews: between September and October 2018. The authors will receive feedback on their papers by November 1, 2018
  • Revised manuscripts should be submitted to the guest editors by January 31, 2019.
  • Second round of reviews: February 2019. Reviews will be conducted by the same reviewers who did the first round of reviews. The authors will receive feedback on their papers by March 1, 2019
  • Final versions of the papers must be submitted to the guest editors by April 1, 2019
  • Expected date of publication of the special issue: May 2019


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