The Indicator Framework on Culture and Democracy (IFCD)

Investigating the links between culture and a democratic society

The IFCD is a tool for assessing cultural policies and examining links between culture and democracy within and among Council of Europe member states. Developed especially for policy makers, practitioners, advocates, and researchers, the IFCD sheds light on countries' positions in terms of culture and democracy, possible linkages between key aspects, and opportunities for policy intervention, advocacy, and research.

Created by the Hertie School of Governance in collaboration with the Council of Europe, the IFCD is part of a process to develop indicators on the impact of cultural activities on democracy and to map related trends and developments at a pan-European level.

Why culture and democracy?

Strong, well-functioning democracies and abundant cultural opportunities are increasingly linked together, especially by policy makers and analysts. Societies are said to be more open and tolerant, better functioning, and economically stronger where people have easy access to a wide range of cultural activities and where participation rates in these activities are high. Cultural activities are one way to build citizens’ skills in self-expression, critical thinking, and opinion formation – skills that are essential for working democracies.

Within the IFCD, culture relates mainly to cultural activity rather than ‘existing’ culture. It includes market and non-market cultural action, products (including intellectual property), and services carried out by any individual or collective actor. Democracy is understood as a form of government in which citizens have opportunities to choose representatives that reflect their values and opinions, and to influence decisions; political party competition is institutionalised and executive power controlled; and basic civil rights and liberties are protected by an independent and impartial judiciary.

Coverage and data

As of December 2017, the IFCD assembles a wealth of data on various aspects of culture and democracy covering 43 Council of Europe member states: Albania, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Montenegro, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Russian Federation, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Turkey, Ukraine, and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. As more data becomes available over time, additional indicators and member states may be added.

For ease of use and presentation, the data underlying the IFCD are transformed into scores that reflect a country’s distance above or below the average of all included countries. This data is then aggregated into indicators, components and dimensions of the IFCD framework. For more detailed information, download the IFCD Policy Maker’s Guidebook.

Framework

The IFCD organizes data for Council of Europe member states in a conceptual framework based on two domains: Culture and Democracy. Culture is defined in a narrow sense: as cultural activity (or production) that is based on cultural values emphasising cultural freedom, equality, and pluralism. Democracy is understood as a form of government where citizens choose the representatives that reflect their values and opinions and influence decisions via civic participation, where party competition is institutionalised and executive power controlled, and where basic civil rights and liberties are protected by an independent and impartial judiciary.

Both domains are made up of four dimensions, three of which (the Civic, Policy, and Freedom & Equality dimensions) they have in common. The Culture domain also includes an Economic dimension, and the Democracy domain a Rule of Law dimension. Within each dimension are one or more components, each underpinned by specific, observable indicators.

The framework and dataset, covering 43 Council of Europe member states, were last updated in December 2017. The IFCD currently includes close to 150 variables drawn from dozens of cross-country data sources selected for their reliability and coverage. As more data becomes available over time, additional indicators and member states may be added.

Learn more about the framework’s dimensions, components, and indicators below. For more detailed information, download the IFCD Codebook and Policy Maker’s Guidebook.


  • Culture

    • Civic

      The Civic dimension of the Culture domain of the IFCD encompasses primarily aspects of participation, both passive (interest in other cultures and attendance) and active (making of art), related to various cultural events and fields.

      • Cultural Participation

        Taking the operational definition from UNESCO’s Framework for Cultural Statistics Handbook on Measuring Cultural Participation, Cultural Participation (a component of the Civic dimension of Culture) can be defined as ‘participation in any activity that, for individuals, represents a way of increasing their own cultural and informational capacity and capital, which helps define their identity, and/or allows for personal expression’.

        Indicators:

        Artistic Expression and Creation
        This indicator (of Cultural Participation) assesses the vibrancy of a country’s cultural life according to the share of people engaged actively in a broad variety of artistic forms.
        Interest in Foreign Cultures
        This indicator (of Cultural Participation) assesses receptiveness to other cultures and forms of cultural expression by way of variables relating to people’s knowledge of another language, interest in arts and culture in other countries, and students studying abroad.
        Non-Partisan Involvement
        This indicator (of Cultural Participation) draws upon data regarding the share of people who are volunteers of organisations engaged in cultural activities, and those who donate money to charity.
        Online Creativity
        Online creativity refers to people’s usage of digital media in order to distribute their own cultural creations. This indicator (of Cultural Participation) takes into account the share of people who put their cultural content online or created a website or blog, and other variables such as monthly Wikipedia edits, video uploads on YouTube, and top-level domains.
        Online Cultural Participation
        Online cultural participation refers to individual online engagement with cultural creations. This indicator (of Cultural Participation) takes into account variables such as visits to museum websites and cultural blogs, online purchases of cultural products and online consumption of various content.
        Passive Cultural Participation
        This indicator (of Cultural Participation) takes into account people’s engagement with different cultural creations, institutions, events, and sites.
        Students in the Arts
        This indicator (of Cultural Participation) includes measures of higher education students and graduates in the arts and culture-related fields.
    • Policy

      The Policy dimension of the Culture domain of the IFCD takes into account various governmental measures that have a direct or indirect impact on creative expression and production and on cultural diversity.

      • Cultural Funding

        Cultural Funding (a component of the Policy dimension of Culture) is one of many instruments available to policy makers for pursuing objectives in the cultural field. Such financial support may take the form of legislation or tax rules that encourage others to support culture and the arts or more direct measures that address specific sectors or types of culture.

        Indicators:

        Cultural Expenditures and Incentives
        This indicator (of Cultural Funding) combines measures of a government’s direct and indirect financing of the cultural sector and particular cultural industries, as well as incentives for business and other private sponsorship of the arts and culture
      • Cultural Openness

        Cultural Openness (a component of the Policy dimension of Culture) reflects a society’s attitudes towards the diversity of cultures existing within the country’s territorial boundaries, and beyond them.

        Indicators:

        Support & Promotion of Cultural Diversity

        This indicator (of Cultural Openness) captures primarily government policies and programmes that recognise and nurture cultural diversity.

      • Cultural Education

        Cultural Education (a component of the Policy dimension of Culture) relates to governmental measures that encourage creativity by providing arts instruction in schools and foster interest in other cultures through intercultural education. This component assesses the significance given to cultural education, in particular arts education and intercultural education, via policies at the national level.

        Indicators:

        Arts Education
        This indicator (of Cultural Education) reflects the share of total instruction time for arts education in compulsory education as a proxy for the value placed on creativity at school.
        Intercultural Education
        This indicator (of Cultural Education) combines information on the existence of intercultural education programmes in primary and secondary schools, and in higher education.
    • Freedom and Equality

      The Freedom and Equality dimension of the Culture domain of the IFCD captures the equality of access to culture, both in terms of actual access to cultural sites and events and in terms of programmes and measures promoting equality of access to culture.

      • Cultural Access & Representation

        The right to access culture involves the freedom to seek out, choose, and develop one’s own cultural identity and the right to contribute to cultural life through art and creative expression. Cultural Access & Representation (a component of the Freedom and Equality dimension of Culture) groups indicators that measure effective access to cultural sites and events and examines government programmes to promote equality of access and representation.

        Indicators:

        Access to Cultural Sites and Events
        This indicator (of Cultural Access & Representation) measures the level of equality of cultural access in a given country in relation to financial and proximity barriers to cinemas, live performances, and cultural sites. The higher the score, the easier and more equal the access.
        Public Measures for Equality
        This indicator (of Cultural Access & Representation) is built on data regarding the existence of government programmes for equality and integration of women in the cultural sector, and studies on women working in the cultural sector.
    • Economic

      The Economic dimension, specific to the Culture domain of the IFCD, encompasses both the direct economic output of culture-related industries and the indirect, or spillover, impact of cultural activity on the overall economy.

      • Cultural Industries

        Acknowledging the debate about the definition and scope of the term, Cultural Industries (a component of the Economic dimension of Culture) refers here to ‘a set of activities that produce and distribute cultural goods or services, which at the time they are considered as a specific attribute, use or purpose, embody or convey cultural expressions irrespective of the commercial value they may have’, as defined by UNESCO.

        Indicators:

        Cultural Industry Outputs
        This indicator (of Cultural Industries) takes into account the level of cultural trade, the turnover of the entertainment and publishing industries, and the total number of national feature films produced.
        Intangible Assets
        Intangible assets, such as those assets related to intellectual property, can be considered the outputs of creativity and innovation. This indicator (of Cultural Industries) takes into account variables such as the number of national and international trademark applications, and the extent to which ICTs enable new business and organisational models.
        Size of the Cultural Industry
        This indicator (of Cultural Industries) is built upon data regarding the number and share of employees and enterprises in the cultural sector as a whole and in various cultural industries and the growth rate of employment in the cultural sectors.
      • Cultural Infrastructure

        Cultural Infrastructure (a component of the Economic dimension of Culture) refers not only to the space in which cultural activities take place, but also to heritage sites that are considered of particular physical or cultural significance.

        Indicators:

        Size of the Cultural Infrastructure
        This indicator (of Cultural Infrastructure) refers to the total number of selected cultural facilities, both publicly and privately operated, and the number of recognised heritage sites that a country has.
  • Democracy

    • Civic

      The Civic dimension of the Democracy domain of the IFCD reflects a classical notion of political participation that includes individual or collective activities that aim to influence the election of political leaders or otherwise provide feedback in relation to policy making. Such engagement ranges from more conventional political participation, such as voting, to non-institutional or unconventional activities, such as demonstrating or petitioning.

      • Political Participation

        Political Participation (a component of the Civic dimension of Democracy) refers to action by ordinary citizens directed towards influencing some political outcome. Political participation takes a number of different forms, including both conventional or institutionalised forms which involve electoral processes and non-conventional or non-institutionalised forms which occur outside electoral processes.

        Indicators:

        Institutionalized Participation
        This indicator (of Political Participation) assesses the vibrancy of participation in established democratic institutions by measuring the number of citizen-led initiatives and referenda, the percentage of registered voters who cast ballots, and membership in political parties and unions.
        Non-Institutionalized Participation
        This indicator (of Political Participation) measures the extent to which citizens have taken part in alternative forms of political participation by signing petitions or participating in lawful demonstrations.
    • Policy

      The Policy dimension of the Democracy domain of the IFCD encompasses many aspects considered to be part of good governance in a well-functioning democracy. Among them are factors relating to a government’s ability to solve public problems efficiently, to institutions and rules shaping the way a democracy works, and to accountability mechanisms.

      • Government Capability

        Government Capability can be thought of in terms of good governance and a democratic government’s ability to solve public problems in effective and legitimate ways. This component (of the Policy dimension of Democracy) considers the confidence bestowed on key government entities that reflects satisfaction with their performance and gives them legitimacy to continue, and the ability of a government’s organs to operate effectively free of undue influence.

        Indicators:

        Confidence in Political Institutions
        This indicator (of Government Capability) measures the extent to which citizens have confidence in political institutions such as national governments, the judiciary, and elections, among others.
        Political Independence
        This indicator (of Government Capability) assesses the level of government independence from non-elected political actors and interests in individual countries.
      • Political Competition

        Free, fair, and competitive elections are considered a minimal precondition in order for a country to be a democracy. Political Competition (a component of the Policy dimension of Democracy) plays a crucial role in the process, both as a focal point for stimulating political participation and as a key element that ensures democratic accountability and responsiveness.

        Indicators:

        Political Competitiveness
        This indicator (of Political Competition) combines measures of the concentration of votes and seats held by political parties in the lower house of parliament, as well as the electoral success of smaller parties.
        Rules for Contestation and Competition
        This indicator (of Political Competition) captures whether countries have implemented administrative rules that make it easier for citizens to enter and participate in electoral contests and to cast their votes.
      • Safeguards & Checks & Balances

        Within a democracy, Safeguards and Checks and Balances (a component of the Policy dimension of Democracy) serve to ensure that no person or group in any part of government abuses power. Checks include the ability, right and obligation of each person, group, or branch of government to monitor the activities of the others, while balances enable each to use its authority to limit the powers of the others.

        Indicators:

        Constraints on Government Powers
        This indicator (of Safeguards & Checks & Balances) focuses on rules and institutions that constrain government powers, especially at the executive level.
      • Transparency

        Transparency (a component of the Policy dimension of Democracy) is crucial within a democracy. It requires that public officials, civil servants, and others act visibly and understandably and report on their activities.

        Indicators:

        Absence of Corruption
        The absence of corruption is a common proxy measure for transparency, since a highly transparent system is considered to be the best safeguard against corruption. This indicator (of Transparency) assesses the perception of corruption of government officials within a given country, thus providing insights to its transparency.
        Informational Openness
        This indicator (of Transparency) evaluates the level of government transparency, in terms of public availability of information and the clarity, coherence and predictable enforcement of laws, in a given country.
    • Freedom and Equality

      The Freedom and Equality dimension of the Democracy domain of the IFCD encompasses the freedoms and liberties expected within a democracy. Like its counterpart in the Culture domain, this dimension considers aspects relating to equality of participation, but focuses on the democratic political process.

      • Individual Freedoms

        Individual Freedoms (a component of the Freedom and Equality dimension of Democracy) ensure citizens the rights to voice their needs, concerns, and opinions and to join together with others who share those concerns and interests. The ideal result is a citizenry that is equipped with the information and the individual and collective resources to shape the democracy’s goals and policies and to hold government accountable to its citizens.

        Indicators:

        Freedom & Neutrality of the Press
        This indicator (of Individual Freedoms) assesses the extent of press freedom and of the neutrality of journalists and media outlets.
        Freedom of Association
        Freedom of association is a universal human right enshrined in the European Convention on Human Rights. This indicator (of Individual Freedoms) evaluates the extent to which political parties and civil society organisations are allowed to form and operate freely.
        Freedom of Expression
        Freedom of expression is a human right anchored in the European Convention on Human Rights. This indicator (of Individual Freedoms) assesses the extent to which whistleblowers are protected, citizens are free to openly discuss politics and public authorities respect academic freedom and freedom of cultural expression.
      • Individual Liberties

        Individual Liberties (a component of the Freedom and Equality dimension of Democracy) refer to the basic rights of individuals to conduct their lives and pursue their interests without undue interference and without threat to their personal security.

        Indicators:

        Free Conduct of Life
        This indicator (of Individual Liberties) evaluates the extent to which citizens’ free conduct of life, represented by freedom of movement within a country and freedom to leave a country, is subject to actual government restrictions.
        Security & Physical Integrity
        This indicator (of Individual Liberties) assesses the extent to which individuals in a country are subject to crime, bodily harm, or invasion of privacy on the part of government officials or other members of society.
      • Political Representation

        Political Representation (a component of the Freedom and Equality dimension of Democracy) refers to the ideal that decision-making systems within a democracy should be structured so that the voices of all its citizens can be heard and taken into account. This means that barriers to participation in the political process, whether as a candidate, a voter or an interested party, should not exist, or should at least be reasonable and understandable within the country context.

        Indicators:

        Equality of Participation
        This indicator (of Political Representation) assesses the extent to which potential socio-economic barriers to participation in selected aspects of political life are overcome within a particular country.
        Equality of Representation
        This indicator (of Political Representation) assesses the equality of distribution of political power according to various socio-economic factors, including gender, economic status, and social group.
    • Rule of Law

      The Rule of Law dimension, specific to the Democracy domain of the IFCD, takes into account elements considered to be crucial to a system that both imposes limits on the exercise of power by the state, individuals, and private entities, and ensures that the state fulfils its basic duties towards its population. It serves in democracies to restrict the use of arbitrary power and is the basis for a system of rules to keep citizens safe, resolve disputes, and promote prosperity and well-being.

      • Equality before the Law

        A central feature of the rule of law is Equality Before the Law (a component of the Rule of Law dimension of Democracy), such that all persons are entitled to equal protection of the law. This implies that courts operate fairly and impartially, without making arbitrary or irrational distinctions based on economic or social status and that the court and judges are free from outside influence.

        Indicators:

        Judicial Impartiality
        This indicator (of Equality Before the Law) assesses the degree to which the justice system in a country and its officials treat citizens impartially, humanely and without discrimination in a country.
        Judicial Independence
        This indicator (of Equality Before the Law) evaluates the extent to which the judiciary has the authority to and does act independently of the influence of members of government, citizens or firms.
      • Quality of the legal system

        Quality of the Legal System (a component of the Rule of Law dimension of Democracy) determines in many ways how the principle of equality before the law can be and is put into practice. On the one hand, the people’s confidence in the justice system reflects how well the system has been working and lays the foundation for its continued legitimate functioning. On the other hand, the practicalities of the legal system ensure effective results.

        Indicators:

        Confidence in the Justice System
        This indicator (of Quality of the Legal System) assesses the level of confidence in a country’s judicial system, societal rules in general, and the police in particular.
        Judicial Efficiency & Professionalism
        This indicator (of Quality of the Legal System) measures the degree of efficiency, effectiveness, and professionalism of an individual country’s civil and criminal justice systems.

Country Status

Gain an overview of countries’ standings in terms of crucial aspects of culture and democracy, and in relation to other countries, with the IFCD Country Status tool. Select a main country and a comparison country (or group), and identify both strong performances and areas potentially in need of improvement.

Both the Dimensions and the Components charts show how any one country (in red) performs and compares to its peers (in grey). Brief country summaries highlight selected achievements for each country.

Note: All group averages include only those countries for which we have information in the IFCD dataset. Due to missing data, several countries do not yet appear in the tool.


Main country:


Comparison country/group:


Choose a level:


Country summary:

Opportunity Table

Identify aspects of cultural policy that might have potential for positive impact in individual countries with the IFCD Opportunity Table. Select a country of interest and a target area to influence through culture-related policy, and explore possible areas for intervention.

Potential for Positive Impact estimates the potential for policy action (in each of the seven Culture components) to influence the selected target area. The longer the bar, the greater the likely potential for positive impact. Potential is calculated by multiplying Current Performance (countries’ scores for each Culture component) and Degree of Relevance (correlations between each component and the target area).

Note: Even when correlations are strong, this does not prove that one aspect directly or necessarily causes a change in another. The IFCD measure of Potential for Positive Impact is intended to direct the further exploration of policy options relating to a particular aspect.


Country:



Element:

Note: Bars indicate average performance of IFCD countries.

Component Relationships

Explore how different aspects of culture and democracy might be related with the IFCD Component Relationships tool. Select two elements and a country to highlight, and detect particularly strong associations that merit further exploration and experimentation.

The average relationship between the elements (across all countries in the IFCD) is depicted in blue. A line sloping upward from left to right indicates a positive relationship (a higher score in one element corresponding with a higher score in the other). A downward sloping line indicates a negative relationship. Correlation coefficients closer to 1 or -1 reflect stronger relationships.

Note: Even when relationships are positive, this does not prove that one element directly or necessarily causes change in the other. And while pairing culture and democracy makes sense based on practice and theory, some combinations may seem less meaningful. Nevertheless, any pairing might prompt consideration of possible underlying linkages.


Element 1 (x-axis):


Element 2 (y-axis):


Highlighted country:

Downloads

2017-2018 Downloads

  • Updated Appendix to the Policy Maker's Guidebook: PDF

    Complete, updated Guidebook to be published by the Council of Europe in 2018

  • Data Set v2.0 (December 2017): CSV
  • Codebook v2.0 (December 2017): PDF
  • Note: Different versions of the IFCD data set are not comparable.

2016-2017 Downloads

  • Thematic Report Cultural Participation and Inclusive Societies: PDF

    Published by the Council of Europe, May 2017

  • 2016 Policy Maker's Guidebook: PDF (English) | PDF (French)

    Published by the Council of Europe, October 2016

  • Data Set v1.0 (September 2016): CSV
  • Codebook v1.0 (September 2016): PDF