Editorial Special Issue on Arts-Based Research

Arts-Based Research in European Arts Education: Philosophical, ontological and epistemological introductions


  • Cecilia Ferm Almqvist Södertörn University
  • Torill Vist OsloMet – Oslo Metropolitan University




Educational settings where arts subjects or aesthetic forms of expression (such as visual arts, music, dance, film, drama, fiction or poetry) play an important role are considered rather complex. Consequently, communicative and artistic aspects that constitute the arts educational phenomena can be difficult to understand, analyse, document and share, without the risk of losing important nuances. A growing research movement that aims to address these challenges is arts based research (ABR). We claim that ABR – with its variety of methodologies and onto-epistemologies – offers substantial support in grasping even more of the mentioned complexities. The question is, does it also lead us closer to a multi-modal turn?

Over the last few decades, ABR has become a common concept and research approach – one that also encompasses various phenomena related to arts education. When this special issue was first initiated (in 2018), Ferm Almqvist emphasised that the field of arts educational research has experienced several scientific turns, which have influenced what has been considered valid research, the methods that has been used, and the results that can be delivered. These turns have also influenced the researcher’s role and the relations between the perspectives and people that have been studied. She underlined that the interpretative turn, the language turn, the bodily turn, the ontological turn, the action turn, etc. have changed what can be achieved and in what ways within the field of arts education research. Nonetheless, these turns do not fully capture the complexities of arts educational phenomena.

Author Biographies

Cecilia Ferm Almqvist, Södertörn University

PhD Cecilia Ferm Almqvist is a professor of music education, and professor in education at Södertörn University. She graduated in 2004 on a phenomenological thesis about teaching and learning interaction in music classrooms. Her philosophical and empirical research focuses upon democracy and inclusion in diverse music educational settings, and special educational contexts. She has presented her work internationally at several music educational and educational conferences and in well-known scientific journals such as RSME, PMER, BJME, IJME, VRME, and Reconstruction.

Torill Vist, OsloMet – Oslo Metropolitan University

Torill Vist is professor in music education at OsloMet – Oslo Metropolitan University, Department of Early Childhood Education. She holds her bachelor and master degrees as well as her PhD in Music Education from the Academy of Music in Oslo, and has another master degree in piano performance from SMU, Dallas. Torill Vist has developed and taught at several PhD courses in arts-based research and has special research interests in early childhood (music/arts) education, in music and emotion knowledge, and in arts-based methodologies.