Alfred Deakin Institute
The Alfred Deakin Institute for Citizenship and Globalisation (ADI) is a leading humanities and social sciences research institute based at Deakin University, Australia. Our researchers aim to understand the complex meanings of citizenship, social inclusion and globalisation, and investigate the imp


‘Digital citizenship’ practices of Malaysian-Chinese youth

This project investigates the digital media practices of two cohorts of Malaysian-Chinese youth, one group residing in Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia), and a second group residing in Australia, where they are studying as International students.

The project is aimed at understanding how these cohorts use digital and social media to negotiate their rights and status as citizens of Malaysia and/or transnational digital environments. The project also investigates whether and how these practices are shaped by ‘digital citizenship’ policies and programs which have been implemented across the Asia Pacific region to maximise young people’s digital literacy and participation in a growing regional digital economy. To understand the latter interviews were conducted with key policymakers in the field of digital citizenship education and policy in Malaysia.

The key aims of the project are to understand:

  • How these cohorts (aged 15–24) engage with user-driven digital media, and what activities and forms of civic and political expression are facilitated through these activities.

  • Whether ethnic minority youths’ digital media use (both local and transnational) challenge or reconfigure what it means to be a citizen: of the nation-state, region or world. For example, are transnational, national, local or regional connections more significant to these cohorts’ digitally mediated expressions of rights and responsibility, citizenship, and belonging

  • Whether ethnic minority youths' everyday expressions of digital citizenship align with conceptualisations of digital citizenship fostered through educational programs and policies in Malaysia and Australia.

These aims are addressed via i) a multi-sited digital ethnography of Malaysian Chinese youths’ digitally mediated practices across a variety of everyday settings and locations (in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; and Melbourne, Australia); and ii) semi-structured interviews with policymakers and educators in Malaysia. It is expected that the findings of the research will generate initial empirical evidence that may be scaled up in future research to develop a new conceptual framework for interpreting digital citizenship. It is believed the research may inform and broaden digital citizenship policies and programs in the Asia Pacific region, increasing their capacity to promote youth empowerment, equity and inclusion.

This project extends previous research which examined how the digital cultures of Muslim youth in the US and Australia contest normative definitions of ‘digital citizenship.

Research team

Chief Investigator: Dr Amelia Johns
Research Assistant: Niki Cheong (Nottingham University)

Project funding

This project is funded by the Central Research Grants Scheme (Project ID: RM31177).