Participants were recruited through official channels, media and via youth
workers in the specific community where the workshop would take place.
Some were also recruited directly through the location of the workshop, The
Nordic Watercolour Museum.
A total of 15 participant took part in the workshop, of which 11 were part of
all activities over both days, and are subjects for the current report. The participants
ranged in age between 14 and 70, and 4 self-identified as male, and
7 identified as female. When asked about their country of birth, 8 answered
that they were born in Sweden, and of them 5 identified as being Swedish, 1
as Swedish-Greek, one as half Swedish – half Serbian, and one as "Swedish/
European". Of the three participants who were born in countries other than
Sweden, two were born in Afghanistan and one in Nigeria. All of them had
been in Sweden for 3 years, and one identified as being "Swedish/Iranian",
one as "brown, black hair" and one as "Nigerian".
Survey. A survey was administered to all participants of the workshop
at the beginning of the workshop and at the end of day two. The survey
included measures about in- and out-group orientation, in the way that
everyone was asked to describe the group, if they had known anyone
from before, if they felt part of an in-group, and/or an out-group, and if
so what these groups were based on (shared background, age, gender,
same humour, common language etc.). The after-survey also included
questions about changed group compositions, whether new groups
were formed, and if so what these groups were based on, and questions
about lessons learned about oneself, and/or others. Finally, questions
about laughing during the workshop were asked and included aspects
of laughing together, jokes, and being or watching someone being
Observations of the use of humour. The use of humour, and laughter that
was observed during the workshop. Also, the language aspect was also observed
related to the utility of humour and notes were taken about the types of
joke that were made, and what types of joke people laughed or did not laugh
at, when people laughed, if they laughed together, with or at someone.
Social network mapping. Social mapping was conducted at six time points
in the course of the workshop, in the structured, formal activities during the
actual workshop and in the informal activities such as the breaks or lunchtime
when participants were free to select their own peers and be seated
where and how they wanted. The researcher drew the positioning of all participants
on a piece of paper, using markups based on the self-defined in-groups
at the beginning of the workshop.
Recordings. One recording was made using the recording function on a
smart phone. The recording was made during the sharing circle at the end of
day one. It was transcribed and analysed using thematic analyses.
Participants were informed verbally by the researcher orally at the start of the
workshop about the aim of the research, what kind of data would be collected,
how it would be used and stored, and that no results would be presented
at an individual level to ensure their anonymity. Furthermore, they were
assured of the confidential treatment of their answers and that participation
was voluntary. No one declined to participate, and all the participants gave
their active consent by filling out a contact information form, separate from
The participants were asked not to sign the survey questionnaires with their
real names but to come up with a "nickname" and sign both the pre- and
post- workshop questionnaire with the chosen nickname, making it possible
to match the two questionnaires without identifying who had written what.
Due to the small number of participants, background data was collected
using a separate survey, thereby assuring that answers could not be matched
to a specific participant.
Allmost all participants were above the age of 15, except for one participant
who was 14. As this participant came along with some of his/her friends, it
was not possible to ask for parental consent prior to the workshop. The participant
assured that he/she had parental consent to be part of the workshop,
and chose to stay in the study when informed about the possibility to not be
included in the research project but to still participate in the workshop.
Group composition changes. The participants were asked, both in the preand
post-survey, a question on how to describe the group composition. In
the pre-survey, 3 out of the 11 participants answered "as one big group", 7 "as
several smaller groups", 1 as "two groups". To the follow-up question of what
these groups were based on, the participants answerd that this is due either
to knowing each other from before, being of the same age, having the same
interests or speaking the same language. In the post-survey, distributed at the
end of the final formal activity and before the dinner, 7 participants answered
the same question with "as one big group", 2 with "as no groups at all, only
individuals"; 1 answered with "as several smaller groups" and the other "as
two groups". Thus, comparing the pre- and post- answers, there seems to have
been a shift as more participants perceived the group to be composed of one
big group by the end of the workshop.
New friends. In the post-survey the participants were asked a question about
new friendships formed during the workshop, and one question about feeling
closer and more connected to the group. All 11 participants answered that
they have found new friends, and nine answered that they felt closer to the
group at the end of the workshop. Those who felt closer to the group were
asked the follow-up question of why they thought that was the case and their
answers mainly concerned the nature of the activities, doing things and spending
time together, getting to know each other, and the openness of others.
The example answer sums it up perfectly:
"Because the activities we did forced us together and you had to cooperate"
Lesson learned. that is what they learned about themselves: 9 participants
answered that they had learned something new about themselves and 2 had
not. Those who reported learning something about themselves mainly described
lessons about daring and being brave, and about realizing what it is to be
a social person, example answers being: "that I can" "be more daring" "to be
brave" and "that I love culture and social interactions" and "that I like being
part of a group".
Concerning lessons learned about others, 8 participants answered that they
had learned something new about others, 1 had not, and 2 did not answer the
question. Of those who learned something about others, the lessons mainly
concerned new and different perspectives, ways of being and living, and the
value of the others. The answers were: "that we are very different shy", "that
everyone is so lovely"; "that there are extremely smart and nice people working
with workshops"; "about others interests and lives"; "the interests and what
drives others"; "how they look at the world and how they interact with others"
"that everyone is super nice" and "to have eye contact".
Laughing together: 9 participants said that they had laughed together with
others during the workshop, 4 participants said that they had laughed at
someone, 2 that they had been laughed at, 7 participants said that they had
made a joke. No one said that they had felt uncomfortable due to being
laughed at, or when someone else made a joke, or that someone made a joke
about something one should not joke about. One participant answered that
he/she had not understood a joke that had been made, and wrote that this
was due to language differences.
Observations of the use and function of humour
The use and function of humour were analysed based on the observations
and notes taken throughout the workshop. The examples of jokes and laughter
and the different functions they played in connection to the different
activities, both formal and informal, will be summarized here.
One function that the use of humour played was to reduce tension during
some of the activities, especially at the beginning of the workshop. Laughter
could then be seen as the individual expression of insecurity, nervousness
and of feeling uncomfortable, but laughing in the same way in an interaction
with others could be seen as a way to connect and to share the atmosphere
and the mood of others. Responding to insecure laughter with insecure laughter
could be seen as one way of indicating closeness, like saying: I feel you,
you are not alone, and thereby sharing responsibility for the situation. In that
sense, humour functions to connect people in insecure situations.
Though the participants said funny things on many occasions, few actual
jokes were made. One exception to this is from activity 7 during the first
day, when the participants made short theatre plays in groups of three. One
participant then said: "Look at grandma, she is a pro" when one of the older
women in the group was acting like a youth. Everyone, including the woman
laughed at this comment. Another example of a direct joke, one that failed,
happened during the first day when one of the artists/leaders made a joke
about his background being the reason why he is lazy. The joke was told in
front of everyone and was followed by total silence and confused looks since
no one seemed to understand it. The artist tried to explain it by referring to
his background, but he gave up when no one still followed and said: "that
was a joke… never mind….". This scene could be seen as an example of when
humour functions as a divider due to cultural differences. At other times,
some participants made private jokes to the person next to them at which
they laughed, sometimes in a language not understood by everyone which
could create a feeling of exclusion amongst the rest. Then humour functions
as a divider due to language differences.
Another example of how humour was used, also concerning language differences
again, comes from activity 7, the short theatre plays. At one point
one participant said: "I don't mob" instead of saying "I don't bully" (bully in
Swedish is "mobba") which made everyone laugh. This line was then picked
up by the others and used several times afterwards outside of the activity by
different participants, and always resulted in laughter from the entire group.
This could be seen as an example of humour functioning as a social reinforcement,
and the line helped everyone to connect to something common
and shared. It is however unclear how the person who originally made this
mistake experienced this situation, but he/she laughed together with the
The workshop leaders/artists used humour in different ways. For example,
they said things like: "we are not laughing at each other, we are laughing
together" during the different activities. They also made jokes out loud in
front of everyone, thereby seeking to include everyone and connect the group
with a shared cause to laugh and moment of understanding.
Finally, humour was also used by the participants to reinforce and support
one another. For example, encouraging laughter and remarks (such as:
"Haha, that one looks really funny!") were used when participants showed
their results in the different activities, like the texts in activity 3, the made-up
characters in activity 5 and the theater plays (activity 6).
As presented in Table 1, day one ended with a sharing circle. Everyone,
including the artists and the workshop organizers gathered in a ring, facing
each other and one of the organizers asked everyone to "share the meaningful
interactions that they had today, and if something had bothered them".
All answers were transcribed and analysed with thematic analyses (Braun &
Clark, 2006). Three themes were identified based on the comments made by
the participants at the end of the first day.
Theme 1: participation as a means of personal growth
This concerned the personal development of the participants as a result of
taking part in the workshop. Several of the participants mentioned stepping
out of their comfort zones and described themselves as shy and introverted.
Some also mentioned stage fright and others described feeling insecure about
being with the other participants and what could happen, especially before
the workshop started.
"I liked most in the beginning when we started with the introduction and the
voice thing… because I am a little shy, you know, so… I think it was difficult
However, all of them also mentioned overcoming these feelings, resulting in
a sense of pride and courage. Those who had talked about first being unsure
about attending the workshop then felt happy that they had, or in the words
of one young female participant;
"… I was not sure I would come or not, like there are new people and you
were not even sure what it would be and you know, and who would be there
and … but I am really happy that I came because all of you are super amazing
people and it was such a good experience getting out of the comfort zone
and just getting to know each other a little bit, it was really amazing. "
Theme 2: the activities as a means of becoming one group
The second theme included those experiences of the activities which had
been fun, involved laughing and sharing funny moments. One female participant
expressed it like this:
"Especially I enjoyed laughing together today, I think that was great –
Some also mentioned that the activities were successful in bringing them all
together becauseas everyone participated and was engaged, not just the leaders,
and since there had been a nice dynamic and feeling of generosity in the
group. Many referred to specific activities to which they attributed feelings
of connectedness and that there were certain aspects of these activities that
brought them together. A male participant expressed it like this:
" I really enjoyed all the exercises that we did, it really helped us to ... get
One thing that many participants seemed to enjoy was the group's diversity
and how the workshop gave them the opportunity to meet different people,
not only in terms of background but also of experience and of different ages.
One male, a recently arrived participant ended the first day by saying:
"I really learned something from you, and I liked especially that we are from
different parts of the world, and we are young, very young and … a little
older… (laughter) …it was awesome for me."
Theme 3: political aspects
The third theme included taking different views on the political aspects of
some of the activities. Some participants did not want talk about such issues
and said that doing so made them feel uncomfortable while others viewed
it up as a positive aspect. One episode on day one especially highlights this
ambiguity in which one of the young female participants and one of the
artists started a discussion during the activity about political issues and continued
it over lunch. This was mentioned by both the young woman and the
artist at the sharing circle at the end of day one. The participant said that she
was bothered by the fact that not everyone wanted to talk about politics, and
the female artist replied:
"…I actually really enjoyed the conversation about politics (big laugh from
the group). I was really surprised, I was not sure if you are only 15… you
know so many things and you have your own opinion and your own statement,
and it was great to have lunch with you …"