Making Democracy

Negotiating freedom, equality and solidarity among adolescents

In this project, we investigate how school students negotiate fundamental democratic norms – such as freedom, equality and solidarity – in their everyday life. Collaborating with a team of scientists, artists, educators and teachers, students research into the manifold ways in which, in their daily life, democratic questions of personal autonomy and constraint, of equality and discrimination, of solidarity and exclusion, impose themselves.

The research goal consists in a cartography of the quotidian zones where the meaning democracy is negotiated. In this way, claims raised in democratic theory concerning an alleged normative conflict between, for instance, demands of autonomy and community, or between individuality and solidarity, can be tested within the field of political culture.

Apart from these research goals, the project has the practical aim of fostering the democratic attitudes of participating youths. Assuming that the capacity for political agency is increasingly experienced as blocked under conditions of ‘post-democracy’ (Crouch), it is all the more important to engage with fundamental democratic norms. These norms also inform the research process. To this end, methods of qualitative research will be conveyed to the participating youths so that they will be enabled to collect and interpret data by themselves. Methodologically, ‘Making Democracy’ expands approaches of participatory research and critical art education. The results will be translated by the students into a theatre play and a graphic novel and will be presented to the public.