A Singing Society? Communal Singing in Denmark and the Limits of Social Inclusion

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Lea Borčak


Senior Researcher


Aarhus University


DKK 4,589,701




Semper Ardens: Accelerate


Communal singing is widely assumed to be a central part of Danish culture. The surge of singing during the COVID-19 lockdowns in 2020 only empathized the perception of the phenomenon’s cultural significance. In recent years, claims have flourished in public media and discourse about the wide prevalence of communal singing in Denmark as well as about its strong social inclusivity. Such claims, however, remain unproblematized. This project will investigate the cultural significance and the social inclusivity of Danish communal singing practices.


In times of social isolation – whether spurred on by COVID-19 or by the loneliness epidemic of the digital age – we need a nuanced and systematic understanding of how and to what extent cultural practices such as communal singing can bolster communities and facilitate social bonding. As more or less unsubstantiated claims about the cultural importance and social inclusivity of Danish singing culture accumulate in public media and discourse, there is an increasing urgency for a comprehensive, empirically grounded investigation of its significance, prevalence, and perception.


Our project has a historic and a current dimension: First, we trace the development of the concept of communal singing in Danish newspapers, journals and other sources 1788–2023. This then provides the backdrop for an investigation of the status of Danish communal singing in the 2020's: By way of anthropological methods (interviews and participant observation) we investigate motivations for participating in communal singing as well as reasons for feelings of dissociation and exclusion from communal singing.

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