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Imagi(ni)ng Democracy: European youth becoming citizens by visual participation

Tampereen yliopisto

ImagiDem explores and conceptualises visual participation of young European citizens. By understanding how today's youth build political arguments, solve conflicts, build commonality, and what tools they use to politicize issues of their concern, the project aims at formulating a model of democratic practices of the 2020s.  

ImagiDem studies visual participation both online and offline. It analyses images and memes posted on social media, and follows young people's visual ways of participation as part of their everyday actions. The project combines visual ethnography with computational big data minining and analysis, and deploys this combination to a comparative research setting in four European countries: Finland, France, Germany, and Portugal.


The public sphere of today's youth is increasingly dominated by visual content. Therefore, the current youths understanding of political action  building arguments, mobilizing, and participating  is likely to become firmly anchored in repertoires of visual participation.  

The research on democratic practices and political participation has thus far concentrated heavily on words. However, understanding political participation on non-verbal levels is crucial in terms of building conceptual understanding of the requirements of democratic inclusion of all citizens and thus finding remedies to the crises in democratic governance.  

Future demands for European democracy will be voiced by European youth of the 2010s and 2020s. This generation builds its democratic imagination and views of political participation in a polarized and turbulent political climate. What kind of citizens will they be? How will they shape the political culture and institutions of European democracy? What are the means of participation they rely on, and how will they engage in processes of politicization? What is  and what will be  the meaning of politics and the value of democracy for the youth?




Eeva Luhtakallio

Assistant Professor / PI

eeva.luhtakallio [at] tuni.fi

+358 40 503 1573


Taina Meriluoto

Postdoctoral researcher / Project Coordinator

taina.meriluoto [at] tuni.fi

+358 44 523 9839