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From Senseless to Sensory Democracy: Lessons from Applied and Participatory Theatre

Ryan, HE and Flinders, M (2017) From Senseless to Sensory Democracy: Lessons from Applied and Participatory Theatre. Politics. ISSN 0263-3957

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Abstract

This article seeks to stimulate a fresh and inter-disciplinary debate which revolves around the need to move from a ‘senseless democracy’ that is insufficiently attuned to the dilemmas and challenges of fostering meaningful political engagement to a more ‘sensory democracy’. It achieves this by first exploring and dissecting recent works within democratic theory that emphasize the role of ‘watching’ and ‘listening’ within socio-political relationships. It then goes on to develop a set of constructive criticisms by applying insights drawn from the fields of practical aesthetics and applied theatre. Not only does this exercise allow us to take the analytical lens far beyond the focus on voice-based forms of expression that have hitherto dominated political analysis, it demonstrates the value of inter-disciplinary scholarship in exposing sensory-subtleties that raise distinctive questions for both politics ‘as theory’ and politics ‘as practice’.

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