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Integrating Thematic Line

Creative and Participative Lives in Empowered Societies

This ITL simultaneously encompasses and intersects multiple dimensions of social reality and practice, around the key political, ethical and existential themes of creativity, participation, and empowerment. What motivates this ITL is a simple and yet crucial assumption: empowering lives is a key social and political objective. To be empowered means to be able to take part in (social, cultural, political, etc.) relations – that is, to participate – and to be able to produce new relations – that is, to create.


Moving from this ontological and ethical understanding of participation and creativity, the ITL is interested to bring together and stimulate research on the concrete modes of participation, on the conditions under which it takes place, on the reality of what is called creativity, and on the effectiveness of the powers likely to be exercised by individuals.


Beyond this analytical purpose, the ITL also aims at critically investigating the way in which the notions of participation, creativity, and empowerment are misused, exploited and co-opted by rhetoric’s and processes that are in fact disabling and disempowering (e.g. neoliberal ‘creative city’ rhetoric’s, the post-political use of participation, the reactionary souverainism that articulates the question of empowerment in merely exclusionary, xenophobic and populistic terms).


This ITL does not engage with these notions only at the abstract level but rather sets out to address their materialisation at the concrete level of everyday life. At this level, various societal dynamics such as efforts of regulation, technological innovation, socio-economical pressure, trends aggravating inequality, etc. – as addressed by the other two ITLs – are investigated as conditioning everyday practices, or stimulating reactions from the part of it. This ITL is providing a simultaneously theoretical and empirical angle to explore the intersection between seemingly abstract processes (e.g. financialisation, regulation, innovation) and their simultaneous emergence from, and incarnation within, everyday practices of participation, creation, and empowerment.


Among other questions, this ITL could tackle the following: How does technological innovation shape and how is it being shaped by everyday urban use, for instance? How does normativity unfold in everyday lives, at the intersection between legal consciousness and socio-cultural expectations? What are the possible links between these processes and the (environmental, political, economic, health) crises that characterise our epoch?


The ambition of this ITL is to explore the complex intermingling between abstract processes and general practices, and the concrete everyday lives of societies, in order to develop a better understanding of what might give societal relevance, nowadays, to individual action, in one word: of citizenship. And, on this basis, to develop a strategically constructive approach to the role played by our research vis-à-vis creativity, participation and empowerment, and vice-versa.




Alexandra Saraiva & Andrea Pavoni

First initiative:

Paper discussion session of 22 November 2018



ITL - Other pages


General Introduction


Innovation and Transition to Sustainable Societies


Regulatory and Governance Challenges for Complex Societies


Creative and Participative Lives in Empowered Societies

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