Authors: Charmaraman, L.
Source: Sociological Studies of Children and Youth, 13, 207-233
Abstract: Urban youths' agency to represent their realities through media has been largely unexplored in the youth development literature. In this qualitative case study of an after-school youth media program in the Bay Area, expressions of youth agency and the role of audiences are explored during the process of producing videos for public consumption. METHODOLOGY: As participant observer of 14 ethnically diverse youth participants aged between 15 and 18 years over 18 months, I documented (a) the kind of agencies participants engaged in and (b) the impact of live and imagined future audiences on youths' creative processes. Analyses of field notes, semi-structured interviews, and media projects were conducted using thematic analysis to inductively generate emerging categories. FINDINGS: Themes included an agentive sense of self-efficacy, commitment, and responsibility, as well as perceived contributions to local audiences and an emerging collective identity. The youth demonstrated their increased sense of a social or civic duty to realistically represent youth of color to familiar and unfamiliar audiences. IMPLICATIONS: This case study demonstrated how one youth media organization fostered agency through youth authorship, production, distribution, and local community dialogue. By documenting the impact of audiences from conception to public reception, this study provides valuable insight into the agentive process of publicly "performing" a commitment to complete a social change video project. CONTRIBUTION: This chapter underscores the value of performance within youth development programs and the critical component of audiences as one form of authentic assessment in order to foster individual and collective agency.