Scenario #1
Political awareness raising / understanding of the political self

Political awareness raising / understanding of the political self

Aims / objectives

The aim of political awareness training is to strengthen political awareness of one's own possibilities of influence, one's own "political biography" and political socialisation, the role of the individual in society, power distribution, injustice and social structures. This method aims to raise awareness that people have different amounts of power or influence in different situations in their lives and that they may be less or more powerful than others in some areas of life; it calls for reflection on how they act in these situations, what these situations do to them and in what ways they can influence these situations and the underlying structures. The relationship of the individual to the state, their role as a citizen and the relationship between freedom and equality can also be consciously reflected upon.

Description of the method

Participants are asked various questions aimed at consciously reflecting on one's own political self and perceiving oneself as a political person:

  • In which situations can you influence your life yourself? (give several examples like work, school or family, leisure, etc.)
  • In which situations of your everyday life do you feel self-efficient, powerful?
  • In which situations do you feel powerless? (again, think of concrete life situations at your workplace, in school, other circumstances)

Participants can first reflect on these questions individually, then discuss them in small groups or in the plenary.

Depending on the context, they can write down their answers or call them out to the facilitator to categorise and write them down. In a more casual context, such as talking to young people outside a formal context, it is sufficient to discuss these questions. They do not necessarily need to be written down to raise political awareness.

Variation: Ladder of participation

You can deepen the exercise by showing the ladder of participation and asking the participants to position themselves on the ladder with regard to different life situations, especially in the context of their workplace and/or school.

Graph: Ladder of participation (own, expanded illustration according to Arnstein 1969).

Usability in social work

Feedback from social workers in pre-tests during the project shows that the method is useful both for their own classification in the political context and in their work with specific target groups. It can be applied relatively easily in any conversation and without formal requirements, and can initiate a reflection process, which is an advantage in open youth work. It can also be used in a more formal context with different variations. The method is particularly effective when it leads to a dialogue about one's own experiences. It can be risky if it only leads to a selective reflection process and is then not followed up. Especially when working with young people, at least accompanying support by social workers is necessary.


Name of the method

Political awareness / political self

Target group

Especially people with little political experience and knowledge


30 minutes to 1 hour

Spatial requirements

No special requirements


Self reflection, critical thinking


Awareness raising about own political biography, socialisation and power relations

Method description

Individual exercise between trainer and participant or group exercise with different variations.

Social work context

Method is suitable for different contexts in social and youth work because it can be used in a very informal setting, in bilateral talks as well as in more formal settings like workshops or seminars, etc.


Questions need to be prepared in advance; Facilitators should first reflect about their own political self and also about their relation and influence on participants.


If people are only asked the questions without discussing them with the facilitator or in a group, they can feel left alone with their impressions and, for example, feel very powerless. Thus it is important to accompany the process and to discuss the results of the reflection.

Concept / application

Method used by M. Pausch during the study programme MA Social Innovation and workshops for social workers and educators


Arnstein, R. Sherry 1969. A Ladder of Citizen Participation, Journal of the American Planning Association, Vol. 35, No. 4, July 1969, pp. 216-224.

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