Photovoice: an opportunity and challenge for students' genuine participation

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Abstract

It has been highlighted that youth empowerment and participation are important principles for school health promotion. Despite this fact, children and youth are rarely given instruments to participate or to influence their situations and the environments in their schools. Photovoice is a method to increased empowerment and participation. Originally it was created as a community action research method based on Freire's critical pedagogy and feminist theory. The purpose of this study was to explore challenges and opportunities for applying photovoice in a school setting to support genuine participation. Together with teachers and students in an upper secondary school in Östersund's municipality in the north of Sweden, the photovoice method was field tested and modified to a classroom situation. The teachers and the students were interviewed about their experiences with the method. The results were interpreted by content analysis and showed that the teachers' capability to be facilitators and the students' possibility to make a difference for the school or the municipality were the most important factors to succeed with photovoice. The conclusions were that photovoice challenges schools and society to have a better structure for genuine participation if youth participation is seen as valuable.

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