NW 29: Arts & democracy: how artistic & arts-based research can help to shape & rethink conceptions & practices of democracy

NW 29 Research on Arts Education

Arts and democracy: how artistic research and arts-based research can help to shape and rethink conceptions and practices of democracy

Democracy is being questioned in different countries in Europe and elsewhere. In this context, the arts can play an important role, not only as offering participatory strategies of more inclusive forms of democracy, but also as ways to engage and account for collective processes. On this basis, this call invites to present papers on:

  • Research based on Arts Education experiences that question or present issues related to democracy.
  • Research highlighting the role of the arts in fostering democratic participation.
  • Artistic research linked to projects that promote democracy.
  • Collaborative artistic projects that relate to aspects of participatory democracy.


The Call
Throughout the last decades, the perception of a crisis of democracy in Europe has gained force. The phenomenon is part of a global trend, marked by the rise of identity politics and the disassociation between liberalism, civic participation, and democracy. While surveys have shown that Europeans still prefer democratic values (Reynié, 2019; IDEA, 2021), researchers have warned about the erosion of democracy and the shrinking of the European civic space. In parallel, the Eurobarometer Youth Survey 2021 showed that most young people in Europe consider participating in forms of street politics equally or more effective than voting. The rise of youth global movements for climate action can be taken as an example of youth’s concern on their future and will to engage in collective action. Democracy might be eroding, but some youths are aware of the need to take action to defend a sustainable global future. In this context it is relevant to foster democratic engagement among young people by integrating contemporary media arts and creative practices to invite young people to develop a historical and cultural awareness of what democracy means. The aim of these initiatives is to contribute to opening the range of subjectivities and agencies involved, and to invite young people and other social groups to consider the past and the present, and then to imagine alternative futures in terms of democracy.

Starting from this need to re-imagine new frameworks and practices for critical democracy, this proposal invites arts education researchers to present proposals and actions that bring into play forms of participation in the common good that go beyond voting in elections. Actions in which individuals feel and see that their claims and contributions are carried out.

The invitation from NW29 is that these proposals contribute to answering, among others, the following questions:

  • How can we understand and explore the relationship between art, education and democracy in the contemporary world?
  • How arts and art education practices are moving  in the direction of commitment to critically redefine democracy?
  • How art education practices and research could contribute in building community projects, in righting postcolonial wrongs, or challenging neoliberal and populist politics?
  • How can art and art education really be constitutive of civil space to reimagine democracy?


Contact Person(s)
Fernando Hernández-Hernández: fdohernandez(at)ub.edu

Biesta, G. (2007). Education and the democratic person: Towards a political conception of democratic education. Teachers College Record, 109, 740–769.

Biesta, G. (2015). Beyond learning. Democratic Education for a human future. Paradigm.

Blandy,D . & Congdon, K. G. (Eds.). (1987). Art in a democracy. Teachers College Press.

Dewey, J. (1916). Democracy and education. MacMillian.

Freedman, L (2000). Social Perspectives on Art Education in the U. S.: Teaching Visual Culture in a Democracy.  Studies in Art Education,  41( 4), 314-329.

Hicks, L.E. (1994). Social reconstruction and community. Studies in Art Education, 35(3), 149-156.

Richardson, M., Hernández-Hernández, F., Hiltunen, M., Moura, A., Fulková, M., King, F. & Collins, F.M. (2020). Creative Connections: The power of contemporary art to explore European citizenship. London Review of Education, 18 (2): 281–298. https://doi.org/10.14324/LRE.18.2.1

Saura, A. (2019). Aportaciones de la educación artística al aprendizaje sobre democracia. Un desafío para la formación en Justicia Social. En J. Rodríguez-Moreno (Coord.), Las nuevas fórmulas docentes: contenidos.  Pirámide.

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Interview with Link Convenor 2019