In researching video archives of human subjects that respond to one side of the discourse on gentrification in the city of Los Angeles, I found a website called I AM LOS ANGELES. which explores the personal stories of people who inhabit L.A. This made me think of the overlap between identity construction and idetity-legitimacy through media resources, which led me to  considering how media provides young people with symbolic resources for constructing or expressing their own identitiesScreen Shot 2014-11-24 at 8.06.48 PM

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I Am Los Angeles is an online documentary project about unique people who make Los Angeles what it is. Created by Emmy Award winning director Joris Debeij.

In connecting this idea of media as providing youth people with symbolic resources for self expression with the following MIT article on youth and digital media, offering a different position: a focus of attention to the diverse way that technology is used and the consequences of its use.

[Introducing Identity, MIT]…gaining more visibility and voice, is particularly important to children and youth. If we look at children and youth through the lens of digital media…the alchemy between youth and digital media has been distinctive…While many studies of children, youth, and media have for decades stressed the status of young people as competent and full social subjects, digital media increasingly insist that we acknowledge this viewpoint. Not only must we see youth as legitimate social and political actors, but we must also recognize them as potential innovators and drivers of new media change.

This does not mean that we are uncritical of youth practices or that we believe that digital media necessarily hold the key to empowerment. Rather, we argue against technological determinism, stressing the need for balanced scholarship that recognizes the importance of our current moment within the context of existing structures and unfolding histories. This means placing contemporary changes within a historical context as well as working to highlight the diversity in the landscape of media and media uptake. Neither youth nor digital media are monolithic categories; documenting how specific youth take up particular forms of media with diverse learning outcomes is critical to this series as a whole. Digital media take the form they do because they are created by existing social and cultural contexts, contexts that are diverse and stratified.

Much of the debate around identity derives from the tensions between these two aspects. I may struggle to “be myself” or to “find my true self,” and there are many would-be experts and authorities who claim to be able to help me to do this. Yet I also seek multiple identifications with others, on the basis of social, cultural, and biological characteristics, as well as shared values, personal histories, and interests. On one level, I am the product of my unique personal biography. Yet who I am (or who I Screen Shot 2014-11-24 at 8.02.46 PMthink I am) varies according to who I am with, the social situations in which I find myself, and the motivations I may have at the time, although I am by no means entirely free to choose how I am defined.

The voices that will be shared in my gentrification manifesto project will include modern video recordings of personal stories and archived stories of personal experiences within the city of L.A. Archived media from USC and public library collections will serve to highlight personal narratives as much as the city’s history.


About Hannah Webster

Hello, my name is Hannah Webster. Brand Strategy, Design Marketing Consulting | Public Relations in Los Angeles | Research: “VR Digital Storytelling Tech Elicits Empathy in its Viewers”

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