Conflictual Consensus in Austrian Cultural Politics: Urban Cultural Policy Research at the Intersection of Agonism and Situational Analysis


  • Anke Schad-Spindler University of Vienna
  • Stefanie Fridrik University of Fine Arts Hamburg (HFBK)
  • Friederike Landau-Donnelly Radboud Universiteit



situational analysis, social world , arena, qualitative expert interviews, mapping, collaborative mapping online, interpretive analysis, cultural policy and politics, agonism, conflict, radical democratic theory, Austria


In this paper, we explore urban cultural politics and policy-making in Austria through the conceptual lens of the arena. In relation to this, we apply the methodological toolbox of Adele CLARKE's situational analysis. With a focus on the dynamics of cultural political conflicts and negotiation, we analyze urban cultural policies and programming. A particular focus is placed on a city-wide cultural program in the city of Graz. Via interpretive analysis of interviews and situational mappings, we aim to analytically unpack the continuous and contingent processes of cultural political negotiation with conflictual consensus as a sensitizing concept. With this objective, our analytical engagement is situated at the intersection between radical democratic theory, referring mainly to Chantal MOUFFE and Oliver MARCHART on the one hand, and social worlds and arenas theory by Adele CLARKE on the other. We hope to contribute to a theoretically sensitized and empirically informed cultural policy research effort by operationalizing the notion of conflictuality in constellations of cultural political actors and negotiation processes in cultural policy-making.


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Author Biographies

Anke Schad-Spindler, University of Vienna

Anke SCHAD-SPINDLER was a postdoctoral researcher at the research project Agonistic Cultural Policy (AGONART)—Case Studies on the Conflictual Transformation of Cultural Quarters, based at the University of Vienna, Department of Political Science (2020-2022). In her dissertation (2013-2017) at the University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna, she dealt with cultural governance. She has been researching cultural policy, cultural management and cultural education since 2006. She works as an independent researcher, evaluator, and process facilitator.

Stefanie Fridrik, University of Fine Arts Hamburg (HFBK)

Stefanie FRIDRIK was a research assistant in the project "AGONART." She studied art history at the Leopold-Franzens-University Innsbruck and the University of Vienna. In her master's thesis (2019), she investigated the significance of cultural mediation for the decolonization of ethnographic museums in Vienna. Since 2022 she is pursuing a PhD at the Institute for Art Education at the University of Fine Arts Hamburg (HFBK) on the topic of teaching graffiti and street art at the interface of political and cultural education and works as a research assistant at the Democracy Center Vienna.

Friederike Landau-Donnelly, Radboud Universiteit

Friederike LANDAU-DONNELLY is an assistant professor for cultural geography at Radboud Universiteit, Nijmegen. She is a political theorist, urban sociologist and cultural geographer interested in intersections between politics and space. In her dissertation "Agonistic Articulations in the 'Creative' City—On New Actors and Activism in Berlin's Urban Cultural Politics" (Routledge, 2019), she conceptualized different modalities of political organizing amongst Berlin-based independent artists. She co-edited "[Un]Grounding—Post-Foundational Geographies" (transcript, 2021, together with Lucas POHL and Nikolai ROSKAMM), where authors discussed spatial ontologies of conflict.


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How to Cite

Schad-Spindler, A., Fridrik, S., & Landau-Donnelly, F. (2023). Conflictual Consensus in Austrian Cultural Politics: Urban Cultural Policy Research at the Intersection of Agonism and Situational Analysis. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 24(2).



Social Worlds, Arenas, and Situational Analyses: Theoretical Debates and Practical Research Experiences