Participatory Culture in YouTube

A similar bastion of research tying into Let’s Play and YouTube video creation is participatory culture (Jenkins). Put simply, participatory culture is the idea that a backbone of many types of emerging cultures (fandoms, etc.) are based on the notion of participation within a creation sphere. Specifically, these types of cultures do not act just as consumers of media, but contributors and creators as well. While most of Jenkins’ early work focuses more on the concepts of shared physical artifacts (such as fanfiction, costumes, role-playing, etc.), the advent of the internet moved these physical artifacts from offline to online. As once-physical artifacts became digital, they also in turn became more widespread. Participation went from a local to a global culture, with websites like and YouTube facilitating in taking these poached creative cultural artifacts and allowing them to spread worldwide. Research within this growth often approaches an online cultural zeitgeist, created by online groups of self-identified cliques, which in turn create their own rules, regulations and cultures. In many ways, this echoes the notions put forth by Mark Deuze in regards to how online communities will establish, grow, and develop their own traditions completely isolated from the physical world (Deuze, 2011).
Online tools allow this hybridization of participatory culture and developed cultural establishment to flourish, particularly when it comes to sharing and compounding on popular, pre-established media connections (Ito, 2005). Research within this sphere has focused primarily on how users take popular narratives and adjust them accordingly to create new content (similar to poachers), but with an added emphasis on both the spreadability of the media (Jenkins) and the culture developed around it.
In this sense, the research demonstrated within this paper fits well within a body of research regarding participation culture, poaching, and media spreadability. That being said, research into participatory cultures often neglects a deeper examination of how creators within communities build together, specifically in a digital scene (YouTube, LP, etc.). Additionally, YouTube is one of the first digital only participatory cultures, where it was devised online first and then migrated back into the physical world (similar to research done in online virtual worlds, but with an emphasis on content creation rather than interaction via game mechanics). Because of this, the culture surrounding YouTube is a unique one, particularly under the lens of previous research into these types of digital cultures.