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AN INTRODUCTION

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.

FORSKNINGSPROJEKT

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.

TOOLBOX

Conversation bar

Conversations with teenagers visiting the library in Kista

Do you consider young people influential or not in society?
What kind of issues do you think would benefit most from the participation of young people?
What determines what kind of things you involve yourself in?



“Vi bara pratar men det blir aldrig någon skillnad ändå”

What do you do online?
How much time do you spend online?
Are your online platforms spaces for discussion and/or involvement?
Do you meet new people and ideas online?
What are benefits or challenges with discussions online?
How are meeting places like libraries similar or different to online platforms?

“Det är bra att vi skriver anonymt för då kanske några som inte vågar [säga sina åsikter öppet] kan säga vad de tycker.”

”Obehagliga saker med sociala medier är nätmobbning, att personer kan vara anonyma och “hata”. Det är mycket sånt på instagram.”

What kind of spaces and activities would you like to have more of?
Where, if anywhere, do grown ups and teenagers discuss together?
What do grown ups need to understand about digital spaces?
What would be good tools, spaces etc for involvement?
What experiences do you have from being involved in decision-making that worked or didn’t work?