Producing Queer Youth: The Paradox of Digital Media Empowerment, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Producing Queer Youth

The Paradox of Digital Media Empowerment, 1st Edition

By Lauren S. Berliner


160 pages | 14 B/W Illus.

Purchasing Options:$ = USD
Hardback: 9780415790840
pub: 2018-07-09
eBook (VitalSource) : 9781315212814
pub: 2018-06-14
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Producing Queer Youth challenges popular ideas about online media culture as a platform for empowerment, cultural transformation, and social progress. Based on over three years of participant action research with queer teen media-makers and textual analysis of hundreds of youth-produced videos and popular media campaigns, the book unsettles assumptions that having a "voice" and gaining visibility and recognition necessarily equate to securing rights and resources. Instead, Berliner offers a nuanced picture of openings that emerge for youth media producers as they negotiate the structures of funding and publicity and manage their identities with digital self-representations. Examining youth media practices within broader communication history and critical media pedagogy, she forwards an approach to media production that re-centers the process of making as the site of potential learning and social connection. Ultimately, she reframes digital media participation as a struggle for—rather than, in itself, evidence of—power.


"Berliner challenges existing truisms about digital media and youth empowerment with a thoughtful examination of anti-bullying rhetoric, the logic of public service announcements and public health messaging more generally, and the discourses of neoliberal resilience that undercut possibilities for solidarity and subversion in social movements. Rather than approach youth media without examining the biases of ageism and classicism, Berliner encourages readers – from her position as an experienced educator – to consider the media practices of queer youth on their own terms." -Elizabeth Losh, William and Mary

"Producing Queer Youth is an original and useful intervention into scholarship about contemporary media with a particular, close attention to youth engagement and empowerment as well as histories of and possibilities for online social justice campaigns. The book’s most critical contribution is its contentious, perhaps counter-intuitive concluding claim "Against Digital Media Empowerment." In making this negative assertion, Lauren Berliner makes positive contributions within media studies, queer studies, youth studies, media ethnography, and media literacy. Building careful case studies of queer youth media empowerment projects and some necessary history of advertising, media literacy, and PSAs, Berliner shatters this myth or rather a set of mutually producing myths by revealing the "paradoxes of digital media empowerment" and the often hidden power and need of governments and corporations behind so-called youth produced media campaigns." -Alexandra Juhasz, Brooklyn College

Table of Contents


1. The Problem with Youth Voices

2. "Look at Me, I’m Doing Fine!": The Conundrum of Legibility, Visibility, and Identity Management in Queer Viral Videos

3. Vernacular Voices: Business Gets Personal in Public Service Announcements

4. "I Can’t Talk When I’m Supposed to Say Something": Negotiating Expression in a Queer-Youth-Produced Anti-Bullying Video

Conclusion: Out of the Closet and into the Tweets

About the Author

Lauren S. Berliner is Assistant Professor in the School of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences at the University of Washington Bothell, USA.

About the Series

Routledge Research in Gender, Sexuality, and Media

The aim of this series is to publish original research in the areas of feminist and queer media studies, with a particular but not exclusive focus on gender and sexuality. In doing so, this series brings to the market cutting-edge critical work that refreshes, reshapes, and redirects scholarship in these related fields while contributing to a better global understanding of how gender and sexual politics operate within historical and current mediascapes.

Affirming the integrated, multiperspectival approach associated with Cultural Studies, the series publishes richly contextualized research that explores gender and sexual politics not only in media texts but also in the practices of media production and consumption. Media are defined broadly in this series, as the books within it expand beyond these fields' historical focus on film and television to engage with other forms of media, including video games, popular music, and digital media. Books in the series centering on current media culture also explore the complexly transmedial, convergent, and participatory nature of popular culture today. Gender is configured broadly in this series also, and a key contribution is a further complicating of how multiple, intersecting modes of identity impact media representation, as well as the creation, distribution, publicity, and consumption of mediated texts.

For more information or to discuss a project, please contact Mary Celeste Kearney,

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Lesbian Studies
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Gender Studies
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Children's Studies
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Media Studies