Georgi, L. and M. Sassatelli. 2011. “Introduction” to Festivals and the Cultural Public Sphere.

Georgi, Liana and Monica Sassatelli. 2011. “Introduction.” In Festivals and the Cultural Public Sphere, edited by Liana Georgi, Monica Sassatelli, and Gerard Delanty. New York: Routledge. Pp. 1-11.

Festivals as a site of collective effervescence (Durkheim 1912) – as a way to express and consolidate community and sense of solidarity. (Arts) festivals are not just a manifestation of aesthetic culture, but as a means to explore communication, identity, and political action/social change. Festival boom in Europe attributed to migration, globalization of culture, cultural omnivorism, changes in how cultural resources are accessed and shared (kx^ through technology, etc.?) – festival-goers are “culture hungry” (Bennett 1999), and crave the opportunity to experience new and diverse ideas, tastes.

All culture, in a sense, is popular culture – if it weren’t it would not retain its significance (Griswold 1997). More so, public cultures – as all culture is public (based in shared meaning, reproduced in inter/action) – even subcultures; therefore, in this exchange, these can be appropriated, co-opted, and influenced from different actors, standpoints, agendas, etc. Shift (says Habermas 1962/1989) within the public sphere – from a culture-debating public (per the thinkers of French salons, etc.) to a culture-consuming public— influenced heavily by Adorno and Horkheimer’s concept of the culture industry. The cultural public sphere of today is “the articulation of politics, public and personal, as a contested terrain through affective (aesthetic and emotional) modes of communication” (McGuigan 2004, 435 here 4). Festivals (and post-traditional festivals) offer a site for investigating the relationship between the political and the affective.

Traditional festivals as way to celebrate the past, as ritual – however, nowadays, the celebration of merging of new rituals, ideological exchange, integration


Bennett, N. 1999. Speaking Volumes: A History of the Cheltenham Festival of Literature. Cheltenham: Sutton Publishing.

Durkheim, E. 1995 [1912]. The Elementary Forms of Religious Life. Glencoe: Free Press.

Griswold, W. 1997. Cultures and Societies in a Changing World. London: Sage.

Habermas, J. 1989 [1962]. Strukturwandel der :Offenlichkeit; Untersuchungen zu einer Kategorie der b:urgerlichen Gesellschaft. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp.

McGuigan, J. 2004. Rethinking Cultural Policy. Milton Keynes: Open University Press.


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