Jari Martikainen


This article examines how students in the vocational qualification of media and visual expression in Finland perceive and define art based on their learning experiences. The research task was addressed by drawing on institutional and functional definitions of art that define the subject in terms of its relation to artistic tradition and its purposes. Twenty-eight final-year students of media and visual expression at an upper secondary vocational college for culture studies in Finland participated in the research examined herein. Through reflective writing, these students commented on the definitions, functions, and contributions of art. The data were analyzed via a thematic analysis, and the results indicate that these students’ perceptions of art included aspects of both institutional and functional definitions in that they paid attention to materials, techniques, and conventions of artistic expression as well as art’s purposes, such as self-expression and the questioning or criticism of social phenomena. These students considered art a form of communication capable of connecting people as well as promoting tolerance and appreciation between various individuals and cultures.


Article visualizations:

Hit counter



art, institutional definition, functional definition, media and visual expression students, vocational education and training, thematic analysis

Full Text:



Adajian, T. (2018). The Definition of Art. In E. N. Zalta, U. Nodelman, C. Allen & R. L. Anderson (Eds.), Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (pp. 1-38). Stanford: Stanford University.

Braun, V., & Clarke, V. (2006). Using thematic analysis in psychology. Qualitative Research in Psychology, 3, 77-101. DOI: 10.1191/1478088706qp063oa

Brix, A. (2015). Design and the function of art. Artifact, 3(4), 1-9. DOI: 10.14434/artifact.v3i4.12816

Carroll, N. (2008). On the aesthetic function of art. The Philosophical Quarterly, 58(23), 732-740. DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9213.2008.526.x

Chorazy, M. L., & Klinedinst, K. S. (2019). Learn by doing: A model for incorporating high-impact experiential learning into an undergraduate Public Health curriculum. Frontiers in Public Health, 7(31), 1-6. DOI: 10.3389/fpubh.2019.00031.

Clarke, V., & Braun, V. (2013). Teaching thematic analysis: Overcoming challenges and developing strategies for effective learning. The Psychologist, 26(2), 120-123.

Clarke, V., & Braun, V. (2018). Using thematic analysis in counselling and psychotherapy research: A critical reflection. Counselling and Psychotherapy Research, 18(2), 107-110. DOI: 10.1002/capr.12165

Curtis, D. J., Reid, N., & Reeve, I. (2014). Towards ecological sustainability: Observations on the role of the arts. Surveys and Perspectives Integrating Environment and Society, 7(1), 1-15.

Danto, A. (1964). The artworld. The Journal of Philosophy, 61(9), 571-584.

Davies, S. (2012). The artful species. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Davies, S. (2015). Defining art and artworks. The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, 73(4), 375-384. DOI: 10.1111/jaac.12222

Desai, D., & Hamlin, J. (2010). Artists in the realm of historical methods: The sound, smell, and taste of history. In D. Desai, J. Hamlin & R. Mattson (Eds.), History as art, art as history: Contemporary art and social studies education (pp. 47-65). New York: Routledge.

Eisner, E. (2008). Art and knowledge. In J. G. Knowles & A. L. Cole (Eds.), Handbook of the arts in qualitative research. Perspectives, methodologies, examples, and issues (pp. 3-12). Los Angeles: Sage.

Federay, J., & Muir-Cochrane, E. (2006). Demonstrating rigor using thematic analysis: A hybrid approach of inductive and deductive coding and theme development. International Journal of Qualitative Methods, 5(1), 80-92. DOI: 10.1177/160940690600500107

Finnish National Agency of Education. (2017). Vocational qualification in media and visual expression. Helsinki: Finnish National Agency of Education.

Focosi, F. (2016). Another artworld is possible. Rivista di estetica, 61, 85-98.

Gracyk, T. (2012). The philosophy or art: An introduction. Cambridge: Polity.

Hakoköngäs, E. (2017). Visual collective memory: A social representations approach. Doctoral dissertation. University of Helsinki, Finland.

Honour, H. & Fleming, J. (2009). A world history of art. London: Lawrence King Publishing.

Isrow, Z. (2017). Defining art and its future. Journal of Arts and Humanities, 6(6), 84-94. DOI: 10.18533/journal.v6i6.1207

Kay, A. (2000). Art and community development: The role the arts have in regenerating communities. Oxford University Press and Community Development Journal, 35(4), 414-424. DOI: 10.1093/cdj/35.4.414

Leavy, P. (2018). Introduction to arts-based research. In P. Leavy (Ed.), Handbook of arts-based research (pp. 3-21). New York: The Guilford Press.

Lehtomäki, E., Motate, J., & Posti-Ahokas, H. (2016). Global connectedness in higher education: Student voices on the value of cross-cultural learning dialogue. Studies in Higher Education, 41(11), 2011-2027. DOI: 10.1080/03075079.2015.1007943

Longworth, F., & Scarantino, A. (2010). The disjunctive theory of art: The cluster account reformulated. British Journal of Aesthetics, 50(2), 151-167. DOI: 10.1093/aesthj/ayq001

Maquire, M. & Delahunt, B. (2017). Doing a thematic analysis: A practical, step-by-step guide for learning and teaching scholars. All Ireland Journal of Higher Education, 9(3), 1-14.

Martikainen, J. (2011). Käsitettävä taidehistoria. Kuvalähtöinen malli taidehistorian opetukseen kuvallisen ilmaisun ammatillisessa perustutkinnossa. [Grasping art history. A picture-based method for teaching art history in the vocational basic degree in visual arts.] Doctoral dissertation. Jyväskylä: Jyväskylä University Press.

Martikainen, J. (2018). Art history as a dialogue: Drawing, painting, and sculpting as educational navigation between the present and the past. The International Journal of Arts Education, 13(3), 1-12. DOI: 10.18848/2326-9944/CGP/v13i03/1-12.

McCoy, J., Rahman, T., & Somer, M. (2018). Polarization and the global crisis of democracy: Common patterns, dynamics, and pernicious consequences for democratic polities. American Behavioral Scientist, 62(1), 16-42. DOI: 10.1177/0002764218759576

McNiff, S. (2018). Philosophical and practical foundations of artistic inquiry. Creating paradigms, methods, and presentations based in art. In P. Leavy (Ed.), Handbook of arts-based research (pp. 22-36). New York: The Guilford Press.

Milbrandt, M. K. (2010). Understanding the role of art in social movements and transformation. Journal of Art for Life, 1(1), 7-18.

Neufield, J. A. (2015). Aesthetic disobedience. The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, 73(2), 115-125. DOI: 10.1111/jaac.12157

Nowell, L. S., Norris, J. M., White D. E., & Moules, N. J. (2017). Thematic analysis: Striving to meet the trustworthiness criteria. International Journal of Qualitative Methods, 16(1), 1-13. DOI: 10.1177/1609406917733847

Parsons, G., & Carlson, A. (2008). Functional beauty. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Rosario, D. M. (2017). Film and media as a site for memory in contemporary art. Acta Universitatis Sapientiae Film and Media Studies, 14, 157-173. DOI: 10.1515/ausfm-2017-0007

Schein, E. H. (2013). The role of art and the artist. Organizational Aesthetics, 2(1), 1-4.

Schön, D. A. (1983). The reflective practitioner: How professionals think in action. New York: Basic Books.

Schön, D. A. (1987). Educating the reflective practitioner. Washington: American Educational Research Association.

Stecker, R. (2005). Aesthetics and the philosophy of art. Lanham: Rowman and Littlefield.

Stojarová, V. (2018). Populist, radical and extremist political parties in Visegrad countries vis a vis the migration crisis. In the name of the people and the nation in Central Europe. Open Political Science, 1, 32-45. DOI: 10.1515/openps-2018-0001

Van der Vaart, G., van Hoven, B., & Huigen, P. P. (2018). Creative and arts-based research methods in academic research. Lessons from a participatory research project in the Netherlands. Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 19(2), 1-30. DOI: 10.17169/fqs-19.2.2961



  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright (c) 2019 Jari Martikainen

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Copyright © 2015-2018. European Journal of Education Studies (ISSN 2501 - 1111) is a registered trademark of Open Access Publishing Group. All rights reserved.

This journal is a serial publication uniquely identified by an International Standard Serial Number (ISSN) serial number certificate issued by Romanian National Library (Biblioteca Nationala a Romaniei). All the research works are uniquely identified by a CrossRef DOI digital object identifier supplied by indexing and repository platforms. All authors who send their manuscripts to this journal and whose articles are published on this journal retain full copyright of their articles. All the research works published on this journal are meeting the Open Access Publishing requirements and can be freely accessed, shared, modified, distributed and used in educational, commercial and non-commercial purposes under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).