The Democratization of Art: A contextual approach
Booth, K, The Democratization of Art: A contextual approach, Visitor Studies: theory, research, and practice, 17, (2) pp. 207-221. ISSN 1064-5578 (2014) [Refereed Article]
Copyright 2014 Visitor Studies Association
¬© 2014, ¬© Visitor Studies Association. Publicly funded museums and art galleries have been called upon to demonstrate their worth as nodes of social inclusion and facilitators of social change. Flagship galleries have been constructed to foster urban regeneration in part aimed at social inclusivity and transformation. A new museology has emerged that is perceived to be intrinsically more democratic for visitors. This focus on the democratization of art in academia and cultural policy is not matched by a focus on robust empirical research. There are few studies that demonstrate successful democratization and little work that considers methodological issues. This article responds to critiques leveled at three conceptions of the democratization of art to develop a fourth conception‚Ä"the contextual approach. I argue that collecting visitor sociodemographic data is meaningful only in the context of an institution's social construction and the role of art in the everyday lives of visitors and nonvisitors. Understanding that a good life is possible without engagement with high culture must be part of a democratization agenda.
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