Participatory Photography as a Tool to Spark Youth Participation, Empowerment and Active Citizenship

  • Vera Penz Cercle Libre – Association for Social Aesthetics, 1010 Vienna, Austria
Keywords: photography, participation, youth work, active citizenship, non-formal education, empowerment


From October 18-26, 2022, Vienna-based civil society organisation Cercle Libre - Association for Social Aesthetics implemented ‘Participatory Photography for Youth’, a non-formal learning mobility project funded by the European Commission’s Erasmus+ program. Under the guidance of a professional photographer, a group of 20 young people from capitals or larger cities in Austria, Armenia, Belarus, Jordan, Ukraine and Turkey gathered in Austria for a week to explore and co-create visual content inspired by the 11 European Youth Goals. The project was designed according to the principles of non-formal education such as learner-centeredness, emphasis on peer-to-peer learning, and critical thinking. It simultaneously served as a case study accompanied by ethnographic research, documenting the creative process of doing participatory photography. The aim of this paper is to put the project in a larger context of urban creativity, participation and active citizenship in order to examine how photography can be used as a tool for young urban global citizens to define and co-create spaces of participation, citizenship and empowerment. Research shows that young people participating in the project have a high motivation to shape their lives and lifeworlds and to strive to increase their level of participation in society. Participatory Photography is a useful medium of empowerment and social learning to raise young people’s awareness on their unique vantage points in order  to highlight potentials for social critique and active citizenship.

How to Cite
Penz, V. (2022). Participatory Photography as a Tool to Spark Youth Participation, Empowerment and Active Citizenship. UXUC - User Experience and Urban Creativity, 4(2), 59 - 69.