Democracy and the Arts: The Role of Participation

By Terri Lynn Cornwell | Go to book overview

4
Participatory Democracy and the Arts

A key concept of this study is that participatory democracy is enhanced by creating participatory experiences for individuals in as many spheres of society as possible. This chapter looks at the sphere of the arts through the lens of participation to see how artistic activities can help develop both the individual's feelings of personal effectiveness and self-confidence in everyday interactions, as well as specific skills transferable to participation in the political arena.

Before looking at specific participatory activities and discussing how to increase them, a major concern of all participatory theories should be discussed. That is the question of stability. Pateman has asserted that stability presents no problem in her theory; through the educative impact of the participatory process the system is self-sustaining and stability is not threatened. The stability question has also been raised in connection with cultural activities and usually falls under the "elite theory of art" that assumes "popular art" belongs to the masses who, given the chance, dilute and destroy "high art," which only the elite can understand and appreciate.

Political scientists today are showing greater interest in this comparison of cultural and political theories. In a paper presented to the 1984 Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association in Washington, DC, W. D. Kay noted:

Even a superficial comparison between the democratic theory literature and that of popular culture reveals that the two have much in common: the arguments employed in empirical or elitist democratic theory are identical to those used to justify elitism in art, while the optimism expressed in the participatory democratic theory literature is echoed by those who would see participation in the arts enhanced. 1

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Democracy and the Arts: The Role of Participation
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Figures vii
  • Foreword ix
  • Preface xi
  • Acknowledgments xiii
  • 1 - Democracy and the Arts: An American Perspective 1
  • Notes 9
  • 2 - Democratic Theory: General Considerations 11
  • Notes 28
  • 3 - Participation in the Arts: A Historical Perspective 31
  • Notes 45
  • 4 - Participatory Democracy and the Arts 49
  • Notes 76
  • 5 - Democracy and the Arts in Ancient Greece 83
  • Notes 89
  • 6 - Nineteenth-Century American Democracy and the Arts 93
  • Notes 103
  • 7 - Twentieth-Century American Democracy 107
  • Notes 119
  • 8 - Participation in the Arts: Mid-Twentieth Century America 123
  • Notes 158
  • 9 - The Role of Participation: Implications and Recommendations 165
  • Notes 185
  • Appendices 189
  • Bibliography 199
  • Index 209
  • About the Author *
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