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TikTok and Generation Z: Online Participation and Identification in China and Italy

Project description

A closer look at zoomers posting videos on TikTok

TikTok is a video app popular with the younger generation (those born since the late 1990s). According to its mission statement, this social app aims to inspire creativity and bring joy. It is one of the best social sites to explore the digital culture of so-called Generation Z (equally known as zoomers), which is the demographic cohort succeeding millennials. In this context, the EU-funded TKTKGEN project will combine social media analysis and focus groups to examine emerging forms of participation in TikTok communities in China and Italy. The findings will shed new light on social media, youth culture and digital methods and improve our understanding of the new ‘style of online participation’.


"The fastest growing social media application, with over 1.4 billion downloads and 800 million active users worldwide as of September 2020, the video-sharing social network TikTok is a key site to explore the digital culture of so-called ""generation Z"", comprising those who have been born since the late 1990s, and are now teenagers or in their early 20s. TikTok’s 15 second videos, comprising dance crazes, internet challenges and lip-syncs at the tune of famous pop songs point to different social media logic compared to text-based social media such as Facebook and Twitter, often accused of having become a space for raucous confrontation. While in public discourse much has been made about the different orientation underpining TikTok online communities vis-a-vis ""first generation social media"" systematic and in-depth research is necessary to assess these claims and understand the new ""style of online participation"" emerging on this platform and its consequences for identity, group membership and community. What are the dominant subjective motivations and the “ethos” that informs TikTok communities? How do practices of imitation and emulation seen in the context of dance crazes and internet challenges enforce a sense of group belonging? And what are the political implications of these trends? The TKTKGEN global fellowship will combine social media analysis and focus groups to examine emerging forms of participation and identification in TikTok communities. It will comprise a 12-month outgoing phase at Fudan University in Shanghai to receive training in new digital methods and study Chinese TikTok communities and a 12 month incoming phase at Scuola Normale Superiore in Florence to study sociological theories of participation and investigate Italian TikTok users. The project will result in high quality and innovative research outputs and contribute to European research excellence on social media, youth culture and digital methods.


Net EU contribution
€ 164 036,16
Piazza dei cavalieri 7
56126 Pisa

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Centro (IT) Toscana Pisa
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Other funding
€ 0,00

Partners (1)