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Participatory Citizenship: New Experiences and Expectations

Project Description

A common premise for Aarhus 2017 and this research project is that culture is important in the generation of social citizenship. Central objectives of Aarhus 2017 are to promote a more involved citizenship through active participation and to enhance the significance of arts and cultural life.

The aim of the project is to contribute to these objectives and to qualify the premise by asking, theoretically and empirically: what is participation, what is citizenship, and how are these related? This becomes increasingly important, since we in recent decades, given the advent of new digital media and the social imaginaries attached to these, have encountered multiple new forms of participation and citizenship.

The focus is therefore how participation and citizenship is imagined and experienced from the bottom-up perspective(s) of young people. What are the participatory and civic elements of their lives - and of their expectations for the future?

This empirical investigation builds upon theoretical work on participation and citizenship by Lievrouw, Kelty, Carpentier, Hermes, Fraser, Couldry, Coleman, Barnhurst etc. These scholars have, in various ways, challenged conventional conceptions of participation and citizenship. Methodologically we will use qualitative interviews and life stories to investigate how young people (aged 18-26) experience and see cultural participation and social citizenship.

When and how do they feel that they transcend individuality, experience citizenship, and participate in the world? How do they describe and imagine citizenship? Which social contexts are important to them, and why? And which forms of participation characterize these contexts? Are they local communities? Or digital networks? Are they political? Emotional? Aesthetic? Are they inclusive? Embodied? Fun? Do they have generalized rights and duties?

Since the project does not build upon fixed definition of participation or citizenship, but aims at qualifying our conception of these, we also aim to develop a method that is sensitive towards various forms and expressions of participatory citizenship. This will be done in cooperation with students belonging to the same age cohort and with Urban//Goods  who has worked extensively with participatory cultural workshops and projects for teenagers and other young people.

Read the interview with Birgit Eriksson here

The project was ended in autumn 2014 - you can read the final report here

Project Partners

  • Jan Løhmann Stephensen, Post.doc., PhD, Dep. of Aesthetics and Communication, AU.
  • Astrid Moth Poulsen, cand.mag., creative consultant at Urban//Goods, (www.urbangoods.dk)