Arts and Culture - Part 2

Keeping Democracy Alive or Entertainment for the Establishment?

This article was written in preparation for the 17th Trilogue Salzburg and is an original piece of research. The opinions and views expressed in this piece are solely those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent those of the Bertelsmann Foundation or its employees.

III. Current Aspects of the Crisis of Democracy

1. Crisis of Legitimacy, Trust, Representation

Wolfgang Merkel, of the Berlin Social Science Center, emphatically notes in his more recent publications that a significant problem for current democracies stems from deficits of representation: “In the last two to three decades, a growing group of citizens has been taking shape that does not feel represented economically, discursively or culturally by the established parties.”[31] Representation, as is implied here, always has several dimensions. On the one hand, in a democracy the interests of population groups always need to be met politically, otherwise the non-represented groups withdraw their trust and approval from the democracy. Democracy appears either in the form of its institutions or of its leading protagonists (“elites”). These interests, however, are not always clear economic, environmental, legal, social or political demands, but also include cultural desires such as recognition, appreciation, consideration of collective, subjective feelings and perceptions. The culturalization processes described above are also characterized by a renewed emphasis on the affective dimension of politics. Only on the surface do cosmopolitan viewpoints seem to coincide here with factual, technocratic politics. On the contrary, the political styles and political articulation of population groups in both cases have significant affective components that become visible in the public realm. It is therefore not surprising that the theoretical approach of researching culture politically, developed after the second world war by the Chicago School and early systems theory and since then declared dead, is currently undergoing a renaissance.[32] The pioneers of political research on culture, Gabriel Almond and Sidney Verba, had emphasized the role of the subjective dimension of politics in stabilizing political systems. They defined political culture and the totality of political orientations in a population, and these orientations are cognitive as well as affective and evaluative.[33] In plain English this implies that positive feelings toward and assessments of the political system, its institutions and representatives are indispensable for the legitimacy of political system. But political theory of culture was also interested in political structures, asserting that only when political culture and political structures are congruent does a political system no longer need to fight for its life. Democratic political cultures, then, can only be reflected in democratically designed political structures. The opportunities for political participation in Germany may well, in light of ever-more complex political problems that transcend national borders, already be scarce. But with regard to the European Union, there has not even been an attempt to think through and establish democratic political structures. The European Union needs to reconsider the fundamental rules of power, participation and decision-making processes if it wants to be more than just an administrator of its member states’ primarily economic and security-related interests.

2. Identity Politics and Social Democracy

The politicians of the traditional party landscape reacted to the singularizing tendencies in the culturalized society of late modernity with offers that were tailored to the needs of the milieus and groups that were singularizing themselves. “Western societies have experienced a profound cultural shift in the past four decades,” explains Wolfgang Merkel. “New ways of life, same-sex marriages, equal opportunity for women, multi-culturalism and environmental issues dominate the discourse. In social democratic parties, these questions have crowded out the issue of the distribution of wealth.” The earlier principle of “politics for all” has changed into a situation in which even though politics still has sought or seeks to serve society, it is an increasingly pluralistic society in which groups with special needs must be increasingly taken into consideration. The criteria on which such politics is based are not primarily cultural criteria, and the resulting policies are called “identity politics.” The conflict described above, between cosmopolitans and communitarians, takes shape in a special way in this realm, because it has not only accentuated contrasts but also revealed marked asymmetries, and it thereby reveals a moral face: “Progressiveness is increasingly defined in cultural terms. Cosmopolitan elites occupy the top positions in business, government, parties and the media. The cosmopolitan discourse of those who rule has become the dominant discourse. Criticism of it has often been morally delegitimized in the public sphere. This discursive refusal has recklessly allowed right-wing populists to appropriate the term political correctness as a weapon,” [34]continues Merkel. Political theorist Jan Werner Müller introduces a consideration into this discussion that differs from conventional arguments. Using the example of Hillary Clinton, whose defeat in the presidential election is often explained by a failure to talk more about the general good and less about the situation of marginalized groups, Müller describes a misunderstanding about the function of democracy: The public good, he says, is not an objective fact, but is instead always the result of discourse and argument. He asserts that it is generally accepted that representation refers to reproduction of interests and identities. An argument is made accordingly that right-wing populists understand the problems of “ordinary people,” that they essentially fill a gap in representation, which implies that this gap simply already exists. Müller, on the other hand, considers it plausible that self-perception with regard to ideas, interests and identities is to some extent actually formed by the available forms of representation. He writes that although representation is not based on random values, views or interests, in fact identities are indeed variable, as can be observed with swing voters in particular.[35] Müller’s interpretation implies, with respect to politics, that the forms of representation on offer bear more responsibility for the representational transaction than is generally assumed. Politics, he says, does not just reflect orientations and interests but is also involved in their formulation. This relationship may also apply to the specific cultural character of supply and demand. The establishment of homeland ministries could, in this sense, be viewed as a cultural “answer” to culturalized interests or as mirrors of interests that are initially formulated through that process.

Thesis 1 – Democracy’s strength lies in its “weakness”.

Even though “leftist” or emancipatory identity politics definitely offers adequate answers to the culturally determined society of late modernity, it is opposed by those political forces for whose adherents the (cultural) homogeneity of a “people” forms the main basis for legitimizing their existence — even though they too, as shown above, find their way to one another via cultural arguments.[36] According to Reckwitz, these are the cultural essentialists described above, identity-based movements that inform their narratives of cohesion with ideas about a shared history, tradition, cultural inheritance, values and a culture that is particular to that people or that group, and about fighting modernity and liberalism. Structural racism is not a problem for such groups. They represent identities with a decidedly anti-pluralistic orientation. Political questions are reduced to questions of cultural identity. These groups react very sensitively to moods within society, and functionalize the realm of emotions, which the politics of enlightened modernity did not mobilize — for reasons including the fact that the protagonists of the totalitarian systems that came before had based their regimes on emotionalized politics, or “psychopolitics,” as it is called today in right-wing populist circles. Despite all attempts to close themselves off to the outside, such politics will not be fruitful, if only because it will not be possible to create an identity of interests, even in society as it is. Philosopher Konrad Paul Liessmann explains this concept by using the SPD (Social Democratic Party of Germany) as an example of an original milieu-based party that also to a great extent shaped its own milieu:

Something like a counter-model to bourgeois society was supposed to be woven into that society: a dense network of implementing organizations, social and economic institutions, cultural and educational facilities, adult education entities, health care organizations, leisure and athletic offerings and, last but not least, communication platforms and its own media… All of this was supposed to make possible a way of life and a way of feeling that would allow individual members not just to anchor themselves in a particular social and cultural ecosystem but also to plan and pursue life and career trajectories within that ecosystem and outside of the capitalist competition-based society.[37]

The disappearance of these offerings is, in Liessmann’s opinion, associated with the dissolution of the milieu that is built around similar interests — its members no longer have collective identities to pursue. However, politics that just has the struggle for equal opportunities on its agenda in fact offers too little to those who have drawn the shorter straw in the attempt to reach higher positions in an opportunity-based society.[38] It is not yet possible to conclusively evaluate how this situation ultimately affects the parties and parliamentary democracy. The breach between cosmopolitans and communitarians, in any case, runs straight through the SPD’s remaining adherents. However, it is likely indisputable that a successful guarantee of minimal standards for a democratic system/a democratic republic that serves all people must still be based on politics oriented toward cultural identities and needs. What at first looks like the weakness of democracy in its late modern formulation is essentially already an expression of its ability to adapt to abrupt social transformation processes.

Thesis 2 – Democracy stands on paradoxical foundations

Politics, however, must also engage in dialogue with the members of a pluralistic society about those areas in which equality and neutrality are the constitutive elements of democracy. The example of equal rights shows that this is not an easy path. While equal human and civil rights will be acceptable for most, although difficult to implement, minorities need special protections, which sometimes give them advantages that others judge to be indicators of inequality and even injustice. During a conference held by the Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung (German Federal Agency for Civil Education) in June of 2018 on the topic of identity, philosopher Heike Delitz sketched out a democratic paradox. Modern democracy, she said, is based on two extra-societal and imagined foundations that contradict one another: Human dignity and sovereignty of the people. While human dignity is thought of as universal, the notion of a people’s sovereignty needs the exclusion of (groups of) people in order to define “the people.” This tension can, in her opinion, always be only partially dissolved by hegemonic positioning in favor of one of the two aspects. In Delitz’ view, the fact that democracy is based on these two contradictory bases can be explained by the fact that democracy orients itself using monarchy’s structural logic: “At a time when the absolute sovereign embodied in his person, in his body the entire society and was legitimized from the outside to do so, in that situation the revolutionaries took over this matrix of power,” i.e. the idea about how society is represented. And they replaced God with human nature, and the king’s sovereignty with the sovereignty of the people.”[39]

3. Cultural and Political Education Generate Transnational Democratic Momentum

It would make sense for the question of art’s and culture’s effects on democratic political systems to be supplemented by the question of cultural education’s socio-political effects. The realms of culture and education are in many respects closely interwoven. Often, they are structurally situated in the same department in democracies. Stakeholders within the government and civil society from the areas of art, culture and education face similar challenges if they want to use transnational activities to generate democratic momentum. In doing so, ideally cultural or political education will not be exported as some of the greatest hits of Western thought but will instead be permitted to further unfold their emancipatory powers and critical potential even outside of a particular nation’s borders. If cultural and political education offerings are understood as invitations to self-education, and if they open up autonomous spaces for experiments and creativity, then uncontrolled effects occur that also have societal consequences. One example of this is a program of the Bremen Chamber Orchestra that was first rehearsed in a national context as a “future lab” and then initiated, in collaboration with the Kamel Lazaar Foundation, as a socio-cultural project in Tunisia under the title “Future Lab Tunisia.” The chamber orchestra’s original pilot project in Bremen based its work on a number of quality criteria, with the goal of confirming them in the course of the practical work. Against a backdrop of the idea of being closer to a lived world, the orchestra moved its rehearsal location to the Bremen-Ost school in Osterholz-Tenever, which is considered a disadvantaged neighborhood, and developed opportunities for students and neighborhood residents to take part in participative musical formats that made it possible for the participants to experience their own effectiveness and new forms of social togetherness. The idea of designing oneself in a liberating way, albeit in a way that also involved taking responsibility for one’s own needs and those of the neighborhood, was at the heart of the projects. The future lab received numerous awards.[40]

The transfer of the concept to Tunisia was based on a call for proposals by the Tunisian Ministry of Education that offered the opportunity to use a public school in a residential neighborhood of Tunis as a project site. Recently, a concert hall was completed on the school grounds, and in June of this year the Tunisian Symphony Orchestra moved into it. A wide range of institutions and stakeholders, all of whom already viewed the project both as a way of creating inter-connections in art and education and as communitarian action with a socio-political intent, were involved in the design and construction. As in the example in Bremen, the idea was to make possible lived togetherness by citizens, students and artists, as well as involvement in participatorily-designed music formats that allow people to experience their own effectiveness; the gatherings served as social anchors and provided opportunities for regular group rehearsals and performances. One format, “Melody of Life,” involves critical reflection on one’s own biography and artistic consideration of one’s own personal issues and conflicts. The encounters between artists and students are not set up to be pedagogical encounters, but instead open up spaces for self-education with a professional partner. Based on this model, collaborative work also took place with neighborhood residents as agents and developers of a “neighborhood opera” that addresses neighborhood issues and incorporates socio-spatial resources into the non-formal project setting, which is set up with great attention to detail. The work is about using art to appropriate world, but also about self-determined and interest-guided transformation of world, i.e. society through networked creative activity. Involvement by a wide range of stakeholders on site is key here; their involvement gives them street cred and allows them to be perceived as local contact people for further activities above and beyond the initiative. The artistic program is supplemented by exchanges between German and Tunisian students, educators and artists, each of which is linked to musical events. This leads to the creation of transnational audiences that in turn create resonances in Tunisian society. The program acquired a wide range of institutions as supporters while it was taking place, including the Goethe Institute, the German Embassy, the Deutsche Welle Akademie, the Gustav Stresemann Institute and the Tunisian organization L’Art Rue. The program points to important ideas about what can be considered a cutting-edge approach to post-national, transcultural education, because it blurs the borders between artists and audience or participants and is based on the central principle of co-creativity, which also becomes sociopolitically effective.

4. Cultural Difference, Irritation of Western Thinking and Foundations of Post National Politics

Implicitly, we have underlaid these descriptions with a concept of culture that has more to do with the ways people live than with the idea of different (world) cultures that are determined ethnically, religiously, historically or ideologically. At the same time, we have proposed a concept of education that calls itself “intercultural” and is thus based on the idea of “cultures” that are different from one another and border along the outside. We have not at all addressed the idea, long widespread and to some extent still current today, that global conflicts take place between “cultures” understood in this way. Terms like “cultural pluralism” or “cultural difference” can be traced back to the idea that people have developed different ways of living, and different notions of how to life a right and good life, because of their different historical, political, social, economic, religious and mental experiences, subjective determinants like education, origin and cultural capital, and characteristics like sexual orientation, race and sex. In the last fifty years, extremely extensive cultural pluralization processes have taken place, and not just due to global mobility and migration, but also within nationally formed societies with a certain amount of continuity. At the same time, global cultural capitalism also causes ways of life within global milieus to become ever less differentiated. Although the idea that national borders are not cultural borders has now become well established in Europe, there has still been no lasting disruption of the assumption that Europe should organize its future along a historically generated set of traditions, values and interpretations of the world — that is, cultural factors.. A society that calls itself an “open society” thus needs, if we interpret the most recent conflicts about refugee policies correctly, to be closed off to the outside in order to enjoy human rights and bourgeois freedoms — left in peace by those who are culturally “different.” This interpretation initially appears plausible. When viewed more closely, however, things have been amiss with freedom for quite a long time already, and this presumably does not have a whole lot to do with immigration. Despite constantly growing wealth, there is a shortage of almost all the assets that the first theorists of democracy, in early Greece, considered fundamental: time, leisure, reflection, education, development of one’s personality, discourse, political self-realization and emancipation. The reasons for these shortages are presumably to be found in a borderless and hypertrophic economy that can no longer be sufficiently curbed by the political administrators of democracy.

However, we would like to encourage consideration of non-Western ways of seeing. These could even include perspectives from southern or eastern Europe. For education providers, this is of supreme importance, because the education practices that have been handed down to them contribute to deepening social rifts by proposing people or “target groups” as not-equal, different and possibly deficient subjects. Educational offerings generate and reproduce power relationships to such an extent that people who belong to majority cultures identify, mark and simultaneously devalue minorities by assigning identity categories as part of their educational concept, and also to a great extent prescribe what is to be understood by “culture,” “education” or “the political.” Alternative practices of knowledge have been and are still suppressed or not acknowledged, and institutions and systems of education and knowledge are often very difficult to change. In recent years, new concepts of education and knowledge transmission are being formulated under the not uncontroversial rubric of “transcultural education” or “transcultural transmission of knowledge”; these concepts consider aspects of cultural ambiguity, non-translatability, fluidity, openness, inter-connection, mixing and hybridization as well as border-crossing. With regard to methodology, this often has to do with withdrawing one’s own positions and developing empathy, with co-creativity and egalitarian collaboration as well as with unlearning traditional interpretations and developing new narratives.[41] With regard to institutions, it’s about eliminating structural barriers and privileges that block members of minority groups not just from accessing key positions but even from accessing entry-level positions within the systems of culture and education. With regard to bodies, first exploratory forms of access would need to be created to investigate how years or even centuries of marginalization affect body conditioning, and how power asymmetries are thereby fixed even further. One highly interesting example in that field is a partial project of the three-year trans-disciplinary program “Untie to Tie” (2017–2020) at the ifa-Galerie Berlin, led by curator Alya Sebti, which invites people to join a discourse about colonial legacies, movement, migration and environment. In its second section, “Movement.Bewegung” (2018–2019), diversity and plurality are understood as fundamental characteristics of design through which the present becomes perceptible as a constantly changing reality. “The program challenges people to think beyond mental and territorial colonial borders. Movement and migration are understood as natural, ongoing phenomena, as emancipatory processes that promote interpersonal interactions.” In laboratories with school pupils, for example, there is artistic investigation of incorporated power structures that take effect in institutions like schools or governmental agencies, as well as of strategies for unlearning or restructuring. Participants work on alternative body images in workshops in order to allow other forms of criticism or resistance to be generated. Performances are also created “that address the relationship between body and societal power and presence, especially the way in which women’s spatial presence manifests in dramatic plots and daily actions.”[42] If the idea has gained currency in recent years that centuries of “mindfucking”[43] are partially responsible for what is terms educational disadvantaging, then it is time now for thinking in a new way about education, in a way that includes aspects related to the politics of the body. The examples do not just point to the importance of unlearning hegemonic Eurocentrism in education, but also to the political potential of such unlearning. Development of new societal and political narratives cannot be the only focus, but such narratives can be a constitutive part of a change in focus that moves toward the future. The image of Rome falling has often been chosen in recent years to describe society and politics in Europe. If Europe wants to remain vibrant and dynamic, regression and defensive rejection of mobility of any kind cannot be constructive approaches. As the two examples of forward-looking cultural education suggest, Europe’s challenge is essentially about democracy, human dignity and the willingness to take risks and experiment.

IV. Recommendations for Action

  • In our opinion, the interrelationship between art and culture has little to contribute to backward-looking models of Europe. Art and culture develop their autonomous and delimiting power in the process of becoming. And becoming, because of Europe’s normative codes, essentially means “daring more democracy” in and for Europe. This applies to the internal condition of Europe and its institutions as well as to the needs of trans-European educational and cultural practices, which subject their diversity to the aforementioned shared normative values.
  • The logic of past cultural-political practices of national governments, based on which they separated domestic cultural policy from foreign cultural policy, would then have to be revised. Only in this way can the potential of art and culture fully develop strength for a more democratic Europe. However, the separation of interior and exterior must also be interrogated at the European level, for example when the question of decolonizing hegemonic Western European politics is raised.
  • Education and transmission of knowledge in particular can, against the backdrop of the observed co-creativity, make a decisive contribution to bringing Europe into “reach” for its citizens. For this, it is important to strive for relevant promotion of European transcultural and political education and transmission of knowledge within institutions and programs.
  • If art and culture constitute a resource for creating a Europe that believes in itself again, then the case must be made for much stronger commitment to promoting artistic and cultural practice. In addition to the principle of subsidiarity, various forms of co-production and collaboration must play especially important roles in the policies of that promotion.
  • The more comprehensively that expanded autonomous realms are created and secured in which art and culture can unfold, the greater their contribution, including their critical potential, toward a more democratic Europe. However, these realms must be shaped, by forces including education and transmission of knowledge, into societally resonant spaces.

Participation by European citizens as co-creatives of a diverse European artistic and cultural landscape is a key resource. This will require promotion of mobility (e.g. expansion of Interrail) and promotion of participation (e.g. European Culture Card with discounts for visiting facilities and events in the member countries where one is not domiciled). The growing heterogeneity of European societies must be taken into account in this process. The politics of art and culture, and the instruments used to promote them, should be positioned self-reflectively and inclusively and should resist the logic of identity politics.

V. References

Gabriel A. Almond, and Sidney Verba. The Civic Culture. Political Attitudes and Democracy in Five Nations. Princeton/New Jersey 1963. (Ed.): The Civic Culture Revisited. Newbury Park/London/New Delhi 1989.

Dirk Baecker. Von der Kunst, die Wirklichkeit unmöglich zu machen. ”On the Art of Making Reality Impossible. On Heiner Müller,” in: Merkur. Deutsche Zeitschrift für Europäisches Denken, 71. February 2017 edition, p. 16-28.

Pierre Bourdieu. die Intellektuellen und die Macht (“Intellectuals and Power”). Hamburg 1991, p. 42.

Heinz Bude. “Adorno für Ruinenkinder. Eine Geschichte von 1968” (“Adorno for Children of the Ruins. A Story from 1968”), Munich, 2018 in the “Questions for the Author” program of the radio station Saarländischer Rundfunk SR 2, May 6, 2018.

Colin Crouch. Post-Democracy. Frankfurt am Main 2008.

Christiane Dätsch (Ed.) Kulturelle Übersetzer. Kunst und Kulturmanagement im transkulturellen Kontext (“Cultural Translators. Art and Culture Management in Transcultural Context”), Bielefeld 2018 p. 53-63.

Paula Diehl, and Samuel Salzborn. Editorial: Politische Theorie(n) der politischen Kultur (“Political Theory/Theories of Political Culture”), in: ZPTh Vol. 4, issue 2/2013, pp. 143–146.

Frank Furedi. Politics of Fear. Beyond left and Right, London 2005, p. 29, based on: Ingolfur Blühdorn: Simulative Demokratie. Neue Politik nach der postdemokratischen Wende (“Simulative Democracy. New Politics after the Post-Democratic Transformation”), Berlin 2013, p. 24.

Wolfgang Jäger. Die Überwindung der Teilung. Der innerdeutsche Prozess der Wiedervereinigung (“Overcoming Division. The Intra-German Process of Reunification”), 1989/90, Stuttgart 1998, p. 356.

Stuart Hall. Kodieren, Dekodieren (“Coding, Decoding”) in: Ideologie, Identität, Repräsentation. Ausgewählte Schriften 4 (Ideology, Identity, Representation. Selected Writings 4), Hamburg Argument Verlag 2004.

Wolfgang Iser.Die Appellstruktur der Texte. Unbestimmtheit als Wirkungsbedingung literarischer Prosa (“The Appeal Structure of Texts. Indeterminacy as a Condition of Effect of Literary Prose”), Constance 1971, p. 6.

Konrad Paul Liessmann. Bildung als Provokation (“Education as Provocation”), Vienna 2017, p. 172 et seq.

Maria do Mar, and Castro Varela. Verlernen und die Strategie des unsichtbaren Ausbesserns. Bildung und Postkoloniale Kritik (“Unlearning and the Strategy of Invisible Revision. Education and Post-colonial Criticism”), in:

Wolfgang Merkel. Krise der Demokratie? Anmerkungen zu einem schwierigen Begriff (“Crisis of Democracy? Notes on a Difficult Term”), in: Repräsentation in der Krise (“Representation in the Crisis”). Aus Politik und Zeitgeschichte (APuZ), 40-42/2016, pp. 4–11.

Wolfgang Merkel. Bruchlinien. Kosmopolitismus, Kommunitarismus und die Demokratie (“Faultlines. Cosmopolitanism, Communitarianism and Democracy”), in: WZB Mitteilungen, no. 154.

Toni Morrison. Jazz, Rowohlt, Reinbeck 1993 p. 250.

Jan Werner Müller, Professor of political theory at Princeton, on June 4, 2018 at the bpb conference “Was ist Identität?” (“What is Identity?”), Cologne; documentation of the conference will be published soon at

Jan Werner Müller. Was ist Populismus? (“What is Populism”), Berlin 2016.

Andreas Reckwitz. Die Gesellschaft der Singularitäten. Zum Strukturwandel der Moderne (“The Society of Singularities. On the Structural Transformation of Modernity”), Berlin 2017.

Andreas Reckwitz. Zwischen Hyperkultur und Kulturessenzialismus (“Between Hyperculture and Cultural Essentialism,” December 2016.

Martin Roth. Der Traum vom intellektuellen Widerstand (“The Dream of Intellectual Resistance,” in: DIE ZEIT, October 8, 2016.

Jean-Paul Sartre. Das Sein und das Nichts. Versuch einer phänomenologischen Ontologie (“Being and Nothingness. An Essay on Phenomenological Ontology”), FFM/Vienna1991, e.g. p. 337 et seq.

Sonja Zekri. Auf Augenhöhe (“At Eye Level”), in: Süddeutsche Zeitung dated May 21, 2017,

Slavoj Žižek. Die Tücke des Subjekts (“The Malice of the Subject”), Frankfurt am Main 2010, p. 272-282.


[31] Ibid., cf. also Wolfgang Merkel. Krise der Demokratie? Anmerkungen zu einem schwierigen Begriff (“Crisis of Democracy? Notes on a Difficult Term”), in: Repräsentation in der Krise (“Representation in the Crisis”). Aus Politik und Zeitgeschichte (APuZ), 40-42/2016, pp. 4–11.

[32] Cf. Paula Diehl, and Samuel Salzborn. Editorial: Politische Theorie(n) der politischen Kultur (“Political Theory/Theories of Political Culture”), in: ZPTh Vol. 4, issue 2/2013, pp. 143–146.

[33] Cf. Gabriel A. Almond, and Sidney Verba. The Civic Culture. Political Attitudes and Democracy in Five Nations. Princeton/New Jersey 1963. (Ed.): The Civic Culture Revisited. Newbury Park/London/New Delhi 1989.

[34] Ibid., p. 11.

[35] Jan Werner Müller. Professor of political theory at Princeton, on June 4, 2018 at the bpb conference “Was ist Identität?” (“What is Identity?”), Cologne; documentation of the conference will be published soon at

[36] This is the central thesis Jan Werner Müller’s essay “Was ist Populismus?” (“What is Populism”). Berlin 2016.

[37] See Liessmann, op. cit., 2017, p. 174.

[38] Ibid., p. 175 et seq.

[39] Delitz on June 4, 2018; documentation of the conference will be published soon at

[40] E.g. the “Zukunftsaward” (“Future Award”), the “Vision Award” and the “German Engagement Prize of the BMFSFJ (Bundesministerium für Familie, Senioren, Frauen und Jugend, Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth).

[41] In this context, Elke aus dem Moore’s essay “Imagination, Joy & Trust – Collective Wisdom. Kulturelle Übersetzung im Feld internationaler Kulturarbeit (“Cultural Translation in the Realm of International Cultural Work”) is very illuminating. In: Christiane Dätsch (Ed.) Kulturelle Übersetzer. Kunst und Kulturmanagement im transkulturellen Kontext (“Cultural Translators. Art and Culture Management in Transcultural Context”), Bielefeld 2018 p. 53-63, especially p. 54 et seq.


[43] Maria do Mar Castro Varela. Verlernen und die Strategie des unsichtbaren Ausbesserns. Bildung und Postkoloniale Kritik (“Unlearning and the Strategy of Invisible Revision. Education and Post-colonial Criticism”), in: Here, Castro Varela references positions taken by post-colonial theorist Gayatri Spivak.

ABOUT THE AUTHORS Dr. Sabine Dengel studied political science, sociology, social psychology and philosophie at the Universität des Saarlandes and earned her PhD for a study on political education in the German Kaisererreich, in National Socialism and in the GDR. After employments in research and teaching in the academy, in urban development and as freelance project manager for political and civic education, she is since 2008 consultant for civic and cultural education for the Federal Agency for Civic Education (Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung/bpb). Since 2018, she directs the project group “civic education and culture”. Her work focuses on modern political theory, theories of civic and cultural education, (historical) educational research, democracy theory.

Thomas Krüger Director of the German Federal Agency for Civic Education since 2000. After being a founding member of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) in the former GDR, and becoming the executive director of the SDP in Berlin (East), Thomas Krüger became deputy chairman of the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) in Berlin (East/West). Subsequently, he was the city’s Senator for Youth and Family Affairs (1991-1994) and a member of the German Parliament, the Bundestag (1994-1998). Thomas Krüger was and still is a member of various cultural committees, such as the German Federal Film Board (FFA – Filmförderungsanstalt 1995-1999), the Internationale Stadtschlosskommission, member of the Jury of the Capital Cultural Fund (Hauptstadtkulturfonds), 2005-2009, member of the Supervisory Board of the „Initiative Musik“ (2007–2011), member of the Jury of contemporary music (Musikfonds) (since 2017), member of the board of the Council of Cultural Education (since 2018).


Sabine Dengel

Thomas Krüger