Photovoice as a practice of re-presentation and social solidarity: Experiences from a youth empowerment project in Dar es Salaam and Soweto

  • Shose Kessi University of Cape Town


The article observes the role of social solidarity in resisting stigmatizing representations of development and as the basis upon which to mobilize social changes in the community. Through the use of Photovoice methods, in a community-based initiative, young people from Tanzania and Douth Africa participated in activities to build social solidarity and to re-present themselves and their communities. The findings, analyzed through the lens of social representations theory (SRT), demonstrate how young people produced conflicting images of community life. On the one hand, they colluded with stigmatizing representations of development  through  a gendered and racialized discourse of postcoloniality and, on the other hand, they resisted this discourse through alternative images that recognize community agency. The discussion establishes the role of social identity in determining the levels of social solidarity that are possible in communities characterized by low levels of material and symbolic resources and challenges the assumption of self-protection that SRT suggests. To conclude, I contend that it is in the act of social re-presentation that young people are able to recognize the perspective of others, resist stigma and develop alternative conceptualizations of community life, all of which promote networks of social solidarity in the community.

Author Biography

Shose Kessi, University of Cape Town

SHOSE KESSI is a lecturer in the Department of Psychology at the University of Cape Town. Her research interests include identity, difference, representations, community psychology, empowerment and resistance with a particular focus on race and gender in African contexts. Shose completed her PhD in Social Psychology at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) on the topic of youth empowerment and social change.