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Welcome to Breaking Barriers

Breaking Barriers was an interactive research-project initiated and financed by Samsung. RISE Interactive in collaboration with community art platform Foajé X and research-theatre RATS investigated how teenagers viewed and preformed participation in digital and physical spaces. We met teenagers in youth-houses and libraries in three places in Sweden, with different socio-economical contexts. With one exception of a school-class of future game-designers, we met them in places they had chosen of their own free will. In our conversations, games and co-creations we discovered that the teenagers we interacted with had vague if any relationship to concepts such as citizen, society and - participation.

Their use of digital tools focused on consuming videos and communicating primarily with people in their own social circuit. Beyond specified areas for influence in school they did not know how to affect societal issues or how ideas and opinions could be expressed in a public space. The teenagers we met however clearly expressed that they had views and perspectives that could be of great importance for the political development.

We gradually changed our strategy during the project from questions to a more story-based format, where we as facilitators could share different examples of what it can mean to be a citizen and then use them for further discussion. The desire to see, hear and reflect on this was very big. In Sweden there has been a long period of a very open, un-intrusive attitude towards teenagers, in particular in youth-houses. The dominant idea being that the less interaction with grown ups the better.

We found that the longing for presence and examples from grown ups was clearly expressed in this project. We could envision a possible next step consisting of a citizen-library with stories about citizenship.

Breaking Barriers aligns with the research initiative and Stockholm Based development platform Prototyping Citizenship. That joins research fields around co-creation and organizations, digital culture, engagement and learning practices in order to support organizations and businesses to identify lack of democracy and co-develop tailor-made methods for inclusion and developed trust cultures.


Breaking Barriers – för ungas ökade inflytande

Genom berättelser gör vi världen begriplig tillsammans. Vi lever i en tid som på ytan svämmar över av berättelser. Men vid ett närmare betraktande är det kanske snarare åsikter och uttryck vi har så rikligt av i våra sociala medier, press och populärkultur. Vi är omgivna av löften om hur enkelt vi kan ge uttryck för vår åsikt och mening. Samtidigt har vi ett alltmer diskuterat underskott på aktivt medborgarskap. Få personer engagerar sig i lokala politiska processer eller utnyttjar möjligheten att påverka i frågor som engagerar. Kunskapsresistens och falsk fakta skapar stuprör av segregerade grupper som äger olika världsbilder. I en uppmärksammad studie för några år sedan visade Cambridgeforskare att ungdomar och unga vuxna inte kunde identifiera kommersiellt finansierade budskap på sociala medier som ett sådant ens när det var märkt med ett företagsnamn.

Vår tid ropar efter berättelser som hjälper oss att förstå vår egen roll i världen och tillsammans med andra. Berättelser som lyfter olika erfarenheter, olika sätt att ta plats och olika sätt att skapa tillsammans med andra. Berättelser som hyllar olikheter och visar oss hur vi kan agera och tänka kring förändring och inflytande.

Det här är en reseskildring från projektet Breaking Barriers. Det är också en stafett-pinne, en inbjudan och en uppmaning till fortsatt utforskande.



Creative collaboration combines collaboration and making to suggest ways that people can learn and create together. Collaboration emphasizes learning with others, while making emphasizes learning by designing and building a physical or digital object. Many researchers and designers have looked at supporting collaboration or making, but there are relatively few efforts to combine both.

To engage participation in collaboration and making, creative collaboration must connect to learners’ interests and be embedded within community. Interests can engage learners at a personal level whereas communities can engage learners with others.

Ricarose Vallarta Roque MIT

The point is not that we should all stop and do nothing, but that we need to recognise how much more creative, considerate and judicious our actions could be if they were grounded in a daily experience of just being.

Indeed, although mindfulness in the west is a largely secular practice, the notion that being should underpin and inform doing has a distinguished spiritual pedigree Lao Tzu: “Search your heart and see. The way to do is to be.”

Jonathan Rowson mindful.or



We believe that there is dynamic between Co-Creation and a permission to play without a demand for production. A shared ownership can allow participants to tap into other qualities. The intentionally unplanned is often different from a completely empty space. The intentionally unplanned can be framed by activities or specific agendas. We have played with space for improvisation, space to change your mind, idea, intention… We have also allowed the timeframe to be set by the people we talk to for example when we have interviewed teenagers at the library which leads to different answers, and more reflection.



In the workshop with a group of teenagers in Nacka they all identified communication with local politicians as the thing they wanted to create tools for. The idea was that if a relationship was established an app for quick feedback and ideas could work. This is an interesting dynamic considering that the things that the group wanted to change in the world were either very close to themselves, such as the food in their school or very far away such as war.

This is just one example of the gaps between individual and collective, what you can identify and what you think (or don’t think) that you can affect that turn up in our conversations.

The group pointed out that a fast ideation-process was new to them and something they appreciated.



Discussing the present as we prototype the future




In the conversations at the Kista Library the young people we talked to expressed that they felt that they had little or no say in bigger societal issues. They rarely discussed societal matters in any forum, but several expressed a desire to do so. They wanted more physical spaces like the library for meetings across age, gender and experiences.

The saw their online existence mainly as a communication tool with friends but some of them also regarded themselves as a new generation of more oriented and faster thinkers than grown ups.

“Jag kan inte påverka mitt liv”

“Vi vill kunna påverka i skolan om större saker än skolmaten”

“Mina föräldrar jämför ofta med hemlandet, de tycker att här får man påverka mycket men jag tycker inte att jag kan påverka”



Inviting to conversation by being guests in their world