See the call for papers below for a closed session proposed by 3S members Jason Chilvers and Helen Pallett for the forthcoming 4S/EASST conference in Barcelona.
4S/EASST Conference Session, Barcelona, August 31 – September 3, 2016
Ecologies of participation: Thinking systemically about science and technology by other means
Organised by Jason Chilvers and Helen Pallett (3S Research Group, University of East Anglia, UK)
Recent developments in STS mean that ‘participation’ has become a productive term for thinking about science and technology by other means. This has not always been the case of course. Traditionally STS has often entertained relatively fixed conceptions of participation where the subjects and normativities of participation have been largely pre-given and assumed (for example, the prevalent frame of participation as public deliberation). Over the past decade students of participation in STS have begun to break down these ‘democratic givens’ to understand how democratic practices are themselves co-produced, relational and emergent. Forms of participation in science and democracy are being viewed as socio-material experiments and innovations in themselves, thus opening up the analytical frame to symmetrically consider diversities of participation, their construction, circulation, controversies and effects across cultures. This moves beyond discursive and deliberative public participation with science by usual means, to encompass distributed participatory collectives which perform science by other means in hybrid spaces of technology domestication, social innovation, grassroots innovation, uninvited participation, co-design, makerspaces, activism, citizen science, and so on.
While meanings of participation have opened up in STS, most studies still remain centred on situated case studies, which masks important interrelations between cases and views them as somehow separate from systems of science and democracy. Against this backdrop, this session moves beyond a focus on discrete collectives to consider interconnected ‘ecologies of a participation’ and democratic innovations as part of wider systems (Chilvers and Kearnes, 2016). This brings different theoretical traditions in STS, political theory and cognate disciplines into direct conversation. For example, recent work in political theory on deliberative systems emphasises ‘deliberative ecologies’ (Parkinson and Mansbridge, 2012) or ‘ecologies of institutions’ (Brown, 2009) for representing publics in science and democracy. Work on socio-technical system transitions offers well developed systemic perspectives – whether co-evolutionary understandings of system change (Geels, 2010) or emerging work on ‘systems of practice’ (Watson, 2012) – but tends to underplay questions of democracy and inclusion. Co-productionist work in STS varies between more object-oriented readings of diverse participatory collectives entangled within wider issue spaces (Marres, 2012) or more constitutional understandings of how science and participation are interwoven within political cultures (Jasanoff, 2011).
This session provides an opportunity to explore what is at stake in these emerging understandings of ‘systems of participation’, not least when it comes to competing assumptions of science, democracy, society and their relations. We invite theoretical, empirical and/or methodological papers working from any of these (and other) perspectives that seek to develop systemic and ecological perspectives on participation in science and technology. Papers might consider:
- how specific participatory collectives are co-produced;
- how innovations and technologies of participation become standardized and circulate across space and time; and
- how they make up wider systems or spaces – whether that be framed in terms of deliberative systems, issue spaces, socio-technical systems, constitutions, and so on.
We welcome papers addressing such questions from a range of domains and issue areas, including: energy, climate change, sustainability transitions, biotechnology, health, and social innovation.
Please send your abstracts to Jason[.]Chilvers[at]uea.ac.uk and H[.]Pallett[at]uea.ac.uk by 5pm on Friday 19th February. We are also happy to discuss paper ideas with prospective presenters prior to the submission of your abstract.
Brown, M.B. 2009. Science in Democracy: Expertise, Institutions and Representation. Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press.
Chilvers, J. & Kearnes, M. (eds.) 2016. Remaking Participation: Science, Environment and Emergent Publics. Abingdon: Routledge.
Geels, F.W. 2010. Ontologies, socio-technical transitions (to sustainability), and the multi-level perspective, Research Policy, 39: 495-510.
Jasanoff, S., 2011. Constitutional Moments in Governing Science and Technology. Science and Engineering Ethics, 17(4): 621–38.
Marres, N., 2012. Material Participation: Technology, the Environment and Everyday Publics, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
Parkinson, J. & Mansbridge, J. (eds.) 2012. Deliberative systems: Deliberative Democracy at the large scale, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Watson, M. 2012. How theories of practice can inform transition to a decarbonised transport system. Journal of Transport Geography, 24: 488-496.