Workshop: Introducing a Circular Four-Step Process of Participation in Democratic Life

After an invitation of the Institute for Youth and Life-long Learning, Inter Alia facilitated a workshop that focused on the ways and methods to engage young people in democratic processes (14.11.2022). The overall aim of the workshop (coinciding with one of the Erasmus+ strategic objectives) was to explore approaches to civic, economic, social, cultural and political participation, through the presentation of tested and established practices. 

In order to translate the objective of the workshop into a meaningful process to the participants, we presented Inter Alia’s working method that applies to all activities, either daily or of strategic importance. We designed a four-step circular activity, where each of the elements appears as a prerequisite to the next and a target to the previous: 

  1. Democracy – starting with a brainstorming and the definition of democracy to each of the participants, we tried to illuminate its meaning on personal level and in relation to their daily lives.  
  2. Participation – moving a step further, the meaning of participation and therefore belonging was explored, analysing various levels and principles of participation, highlighting the importance of common safe spaces, the care it requires, and the set of rights and responsibilities that go along. 
  3. Decision-making – was seen as a consequence of the participation process, where collaboration and collective action came out. The shaping of a decision as an outcome of a participatory activity stands for realisation on several levels, all of which central for the development and improvement of the analytical skills of a young person. 
  4. Emancipation – Through the closing of the circle, not simply moving, but evolving from A to D, we argued that a person becomes an agent of their own, ready to stand for their ideas, and to act as a fully-fledged member of the whole. 

In that sense we put the emancipation as a steppingstone to democracy (restarting the circle all over) as a setting in which the demos holds the power, collectively and individually. 

Together with the participants we discussed and contrasted examples of our daily lives, ideas of how different situations could be, what changes could be introduced and improvements adopted, relying on the fact that a circle doesn’t end, neither gets exhausted. It can be supported though, while the support opens new circles of democratic and non-coercive participation. 

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