The focus of this research line is on participation within local social-cultural work, with two main subtopics, namely public libraries and cultural and community centres. There are, however, two sides of cultural participation to be studied, i.e. stimulation of demand and variation in supply. The former is traditionally studied the most and undeniable the most important side of cultural participation to be analysed. It involves the identification of participants and non-participants, the study of the variation and changes in the degree of participation, and the reasons for (not) participating. The latter involves scrutinizing the way local social-cultural network can a play an active role in stimulating cultural participation, by, for example, increasing accessibility and variation in supply.

Five main research packages can be identified that will be tackled within this research line.

The first package involves studying cultural participation over the life course. The objective is to study how life transitions effect the way people participate. This entails investigating how generations differ, how partners influence each other and how different activities can be in ‘competition’ with each other.

The second package aims answering two questions. First, how does cultural participation, with emphasis on participation in receptive activities, affect community building, attitudes, values, and norms? Second, what role can providers of cultural activities play to fulfill their assignment of community building? The participation survey allows us to formulate answers to these questions.

The third research package mainly focuses on the cultural participation of social groups with structural participation deficits. When it comes to study (cultural) participation of socially deprived groups sample sizes of even the largest population surveys are often too small to make this kind of selections. Still the participation surveys leave room to study at least one social group that has a structural participation deficit, namely older people (more specific 65+ and 75+ year-olds). This is the first social group we will study in depth on their cultural participation.

The forth research package encompasses an analysis of variations in cultural supply. Many research on cultural participation take the demand side as starting point for their analyses. Of course it is widely known that certain socio-demographic characteristics are important in the development of tastes and cultural preferences, but assuming that non-participation is only a matter of the lack of cultural competences (in whatever way they might be acquired) is too short-sighted. At least a closer look should be taken at the organization, structure and variation of the supply-side of local social-cultural activities. This ask for a mapping of the variations in supply of social-cultural work.

The purpose of the final and fifth research package is to bundle the accumulated knowledge on cultural participation. This means that the reports, evaluations and policy-based advice will be made available for all stakeholders with the cultural field. In this way all the work done within the Policy Research Centre Culture will not only reach policy makers at all different levels, but also the cultural workers that are active within the field. Hopefully this will (again) open up a discussion where scientific research and daily practice meet.