Empowerment; Social capital; Active citizenship; Peer learning;

Learning part

Empowerment; Social capital; Active citizenship; Peer learning;


PEER LEARNING is an expression to emphasize that the learners have an equal position in the process. At the same time, the concept implies that the learners actually learn from each other and contribute on equal terms to a common solution of given tasks. Thus, peer learning, in a sense, abolishes the classical learning situation, where one party – as a rule the teacher – is hierarchically placed over the other party – as a rule the student. In peer learning, on the contrary, the roles will constantly change. In one situation, some peers can contribute more than others. In other situations, it is the other way around. The starting point is that all peers are recognized as active and valuable contributors.
The peer-to-peer learning process can be interpreted as relations, where people in a certain learning context alternately perform in the roles as providers and recipients of given services in the form of knowledge, methods etc. In the overall picture, a balance is created between providing and receiving, thus that the individual person in the learning context and community performs in both roles. In other contexts, the peer learning perspective has been defined as: “Peer learning is defined as studens learning from and with each other in both formal and informal ways” (Boud, D. (2001): “Introduction: Making the Move to Peer Learning”).
The understanding is that students – learners – learn by actively and systematically sharing their ideas, knowledge and experience through learning activities with their peers. The result is an interdependent and mutual learning process on equal grounds, where emotional and social learning are involved as essential aspects of the peer exchange. Thus, elements of coproduction are part of the peer learning process, based on building blocks such as:
• Building on people’s capabilities: everyone has different capabilities and skill sets.
• Recognizing all participants as assets: no participant should have special authority or take a leading role.
• Mutuality and reciprocity: the aim is to create a two-way relationship – meaning interdependent and mutual learning positions.
“Peer teaching can take many forms. The common factor is that knowledge is shared not by an instructor or other person of authority. It’s all about people on the same level teaching each other what they know…” (What is Peer-to-Peer Learning?
In this way, we may talk about a horizontal, non-hierarchical learning community – as opposed to traditional learning contexts that usually build on a vertical and hierarchical structure, based on unilateral roles as teachers and students in unequal positions.
Peer relations or mentor/mentee relations: it is relevant to point out a difference between the mentor/ mentee relationship and the peer-based relations. is integrated into the mentor role that mentor must be a supervisor, facilitator and instructor in the interaction with his mentee. The mentor is positioned higher than the mentee according to the logic of the function. This is a kind of teacher/student relationship – regardless of the fact that the mentor/mentee relationship may be established between young people at the same age, the same level of education etc. In summary, the mentor/mentee construction is built on a asymmetric relation – unlike the peer approach.
[Extracted from the SUPEER Booklet collection on concepts and methodologies, Booklet 1 “Peer learning in youth work and integration” – For more information:]


EMPOWERMENT is not “power itself” but is a process by which the latter is only bestowed to an end or for a purpose. The term empowerment refers to measures designed to increase the degree of autonomy and self-determination in people and in communities in order to enable them to represent their interests in a responsible and self-determined way, acting on their own authority. It is the process of becoming stronger and more confident, especially in controlling one’s life and claiming one’s rights. Empowerment as action refers both to the process of self-empowerment and to professional support of people, which enables them to overcome their sense of powerlessness and lack of influence, and to recognise and use their resources.
Empowerment: the capacity of individuals, groups and/or communities to take control of their circumstances, exercise power and achieve their own goals, and the process by which, individually and collectively, they are able to help themselves and others to maximize the quality of their lives. (Adams, 2008).
The empowerment process goes in two directions vertical and horizontal. Vertical empowerment relates to empowering groups and the local communities through policies at the level of local municipalities and governmental authorities. Horizontal empowerment relates to empowering vigorous networks between actors at the same level (Andersen and Larsen, 2016, p. 587).
Empowerment is inextricably linked to education. Not only is education a crucial part of all empowerment programmes but it also acts to empower in itself. For those who are illiterate and have to adapt to a second language, for example, education is crucial for them to develop a sense of self-worth and empowerment.

[Extracted from the SUPEER Booklet collection on concepts and methodologies, Booklet 2 “Empowerment in peer learning and integration” – For more information:]


“Social capital can be defined simply as the existence of certain set of informal values or norms shared among members of a group that permit cooperation among them.” Francis Fukoyama
SOCIAL CAPITAL, according to Bourdieu, is “the sum of the current and potential resources associated with the individual’s position in a network of more or less institutionalized relationships of mutual acquaintance and recognition.” (Bourdieu 1986). Social capital, therefore, is resources that the individual gets access to by joining social networks. The individual’s potential social capital builds on the mutual recognition of members in the network to each other. It is also affected by the size of the network as well as other types of capital that the individual holds.
Social capital, according to Coleman’s definition, is a form of capital that exists within social relationships among people in several forms of social networks. These social relationships give members of social networks access to several useful resources that function in a way that can affect their quality of life. Coleman distinguishes three functional forms of social capital:
1. Commitments, expectations and credibility: Relations and networks provide services. And these services are repaid. This reciprocal mechanism requires that members of a network acknowledge each other as committed, trustworthy and credible individuals. The acknowledgement provides a sense of safety and belonging by identifying with other members of the social network.
2. Information channels: Information and knowledge are important tools for acting in accordance with one’s different social roles as well as one’s own interests and benefits. Social relationships can provide free access to information.
3. Social norms; rewards and sanctions: Norms are important in describing how members of a social network act and how the network works in general. Norms determine what actions are considered proper or improper. Norms are usually enforced through sanctions in a form of reward or punishment.
Putman defines social capital as “features of social organizations such as networks, norms and social trust that facilitate coordination and cooperation for the mutual benefit.” (Putman, 1995) Like Bourdieu and Coleman, Putman also emphasizes that understanding social capital requires understanding the social relations and ties within which social capital is embedded, generated and accessed. Putman underlines that social capital also can be negative and can creates many problems both for the individuals and communities. Gang-groups are networks where social relations and ties have a negative impact on the members of the network as well as the community in general.

[Extracted from the SUPEER Booklet collection on concepts and methodologies, Booklet 3 “Social capital in youth work and integration” – For more information:]


The concept of CITIZENSHIP is generally perceived as a fundamental prerequisite for the functioning of democracy. Thus, CITIZENSHIP is associated with the population’s engagement and involvement in political decisions and societal institutions through voting rights, hearings and other decision channels. Without the opinion and participation of civilians, civil associations and networks, the basic idea of democracy as a people’s government may be weakened.

“Citizenship can be perceived as a combination of status and identity. the individual has rights as a citizen of society, however, must also feel loyalty to the community and be able to identify with its basic values. Citizenship is also about the view of the other/the others that we educating and socialized to perform. Who do we see as fellow citizens? How does the individual become part of the community and be recognized as an active citizen? …” (Korsgaard, Ove, Sigurdsson, Lakshmi and Skovmand, Keld” in the anthology “Citizewnship, a new educational ideal?”, 2007).

Basicly, citizenship is about knowing one’s rights and obligations – and to use one’s rights in a society, where you feel recognized as well as committed and obliged to contribute to the common good. From this overall perspective, the crucial point of being a citizen is the awareness of the constant interaction between rights and obligations towards the communality and society in a broader sense.

In terms of a citizenship practice, researchers, social debaters and practitioners have defined the concept differently. For instance, a distinction can be made between the ordinary, the active and the activist citizenship:

  • The ORDINARY citizenship refers to a daily life practice in the close living environment, people – citizens – care for relatives, neighbors and friends in the community. This type of citizenship helps to ensure the cohesion of society and interrelated inclusion of citizens in the community. The “quiet commitment” takes place in informal networks and comprises both economic, social and practical help and coping. It is often described as “the glue that holds us together”.
  • The ACTIVE citizenship refers to the individual participation in various organized activities in the public sphere. This is generally about a broader approach to desired changes in people’s living conditions. The active citizenship and participation take place in formalized frameworks such as voluntary work in unions, organizations, schoolboards, daycare centers or housing associations, and it contributes to a more cohesive and solidarity society.
  • The ACTIVIST citizenship refers to the practice, where citizens not only act within the agreed frameworks and regulations. The activist citizens also actively formulate new framework conditions in order to transform the given economic, social and political conditions for for social life, and especially the life conditions for certain vulnerable groups. Thus, the activist citizenship builds on action forms that tend to break down traditional rules and structures, in the name of basic citizenship values such as solidarity, equality, tolerance etc.
  • The DEMOCRATIC citizenship was launched by the Council of Europe and refers to the educational aspect of a citizenship. The approach is that democratic citizenship is not limited to the legal status and to voting rights. Instead, the democratic citizenship includes all aspects of life in a democratic society, thus relating to many different kinds of topics and especially linking to the awareness of human rights, responsibilities and duties. The democratic citizenship also aims to make citizens realize, how they can play an active and effective role in their community.


[Extracted from the SUPEER Booklet collection on concepts and methodologies, Booklet 4 “Citizenship in peer learning and integration” – For more information:]

Description of the exercise

Click and drag each word to the right column, according to the belonging of the words to the concepts.