Rediscovering Culture: The Unexplored Dimension of European Democratic Identity

Abstract
A particular dimension of democracy has been deprived of attention in both theoretical approaches and empirical research: the case of culture as referring to arts and popular culture. Drawing on examples of how the political role of arts and other forms of culture was acknowledged and exploited at various moments in the history of European societies, the article discusses the ways in which culture is important to “democracy as lived experience” playing a key role in the functioning of democratic societies. Moreover, advancing the thesis that new sources of common identity, democracy and political unity can be found in the European culture, the paper represents a contribution to the framework that clarifies the role of culture – serious or popular – in the current process of forging a European identity. Finding theoretical support in the European literature, cultural policies elaboration, relevant official discourses and statistics elaborated at the European level, the article demonstrates that the answer to the question of European identity will be provided significantly by the European culture as an open space that must be constantly redefined.
Keywords culture  arts  democracy  European identity  political regime
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