Dare to be more sensuous!
In the year 1969, Willy Brandt used his opening government statement to declare that the motto of his chancellorship would be “Dare more Democracy!”. He thereby took up the calls for more democratic participation and social change made by the protest movement that had emerged in the 1960s and reached its high point in 1968. Today, in times of populism, nationalism and the return of authoritarian ideologies, it is vital to defend democratic achievements and dare even more democracy.
To achieve this, it is crucial to have as many people as possible participate in the discourse around collective opinion-forming and decision-making processes – this applies in particular to planning processes for sustainable urban development. For shaping the future, the broadest possible participation is a necessary condition. But participation in of itself is not sufficient. This is also about systematically including dimensions of experience that are as diverse as possible. While from the late 1960s participation research and practice focused on the negotiation of values, interests, and knowledge claims – and designed participation approaches and procedures accordingly – sensual-aesthetic aspects and (felt) imaginations were not routinely dealt with. This “sensuality deficit” is problematic.
There is a “sensuality deficit” in participation research and practice.
Interdisciplinary insights from neuropsychology, philosophy and social sciences emphasize the importance of multisensory, bodily perception for human action. They conceptualize atmospheres as emotionally attuned spaces characterized as shared reality by the palpable presence of the perceived and the sensual-emotional experience of the perceiver. They use art-based methods to open up horizons of knowledge beyond cognitive-logical approaches. The time seems ripe to proclaim a supplementary motto in the style of Brandt: dare to be more sensuous!