Participation, it seems, is ‘en vogue.’ Web 2.0 technologies like YouTube, Facebook and Twitter provide new options of participation in the production and dissemination of cultural forms of knowledge and expression; movements of protest and resistance claim the right to participate in political decision-making processes due to an alleged failure of institutionalized democracy; ‘Inclusion’ has been turned into one of the central issues in discourses about education and plays a significant role e.g. in the conceptualization and implementation of curricula.

What exactly, however, does ‘participation’ denote in different historical and contemporary contexts? Who participates, at what time, in which manner, with which intentions and under which circumstances, and how is participation legitimized in these very contexts? And (how) has the concept of ‘participation’ changed over time?

The PhD-program “Cultures of Participation” particularly addresses these questions and provides the framework for Phd-projects which, from a cultural studies-perspective, examine the different forms and functions, the legitimizations, premises and conditions, the media and technologies as well as the individual and collective actors of cultural participation in present and past contexts and environments. In so doing, the program contributes to the development of a critical notion of participation, which reflects on the term’s highly normative connotations and thus unfolds analytical potential. The PhD program ‘Cultures of Participation’ is based on the ongoing collaboration between researchers from the humanities as well as from the social and educational sciences in the field, both across disciplines and across faculties, and thus provides an ideal framework for projects that focus on questions that are located ‘between’ or ‘across’ disciplinary boundaries.

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