Democracy in the making – 4S/EASST 2020 Conference Panel

3S Chair Jason Chilvers and Jan-Peter Voß (Berlin University of Technology) are advertising a Call for Papers for an open panel on “Democracy in the making” to be held at the 4S/EASST conference in Prague, 18-21 August 2020. They invite submissions which reconstruct how ‘the demos’ is enacted in practice and how this is supported by different kinds of sciences. The panel links with previous work in the 3S group which has taken technologies and practices of participation and democracy as objects of study and intervention in themselves.

The abstract for this open panel no. 37 of the 4S/EASST conference is as follows:

“What is democracy? It is no news that democracy is an “essentially contested concept” (Connolly). This Open Panel explores how this can be translated into a practice-oriented approach. We start by taking any democratic practice to be centred on a particular way of articulating the demos and how it wants to govern itself. This entails the construction of the people as a collective subjectivity. In practice, this works by making “representative claims” (Saward). If accepted such claims generate political authority and become performative in actually constituting the people as a collective with shared will and agency (Latour, Disch). But how specifically is this done in practice? And which are the broader arrangements or “hinterlands” (Law) that shape “felicity conditions” (Austin)? These questions lead into the machinery of doing liberal-representative democracy through party competition and elections, but they symmetrically bring into view practices of stakeholder negotiation or citizen deliberation, and other radically different forms of representing the people through opinion mining in digital data or performative-aesthetic interventions. Enacting specific “political imaginaries” (Ezrahi) in a wider “ecology of representation” (Rosanvallon) they jointly constitute “the demos multiple” (cf. Mol). A next step for STS is to reconstruct the dynamics of different democratic practices in the making by tracing entanglements with specific “epistemic cultures” of democracy and their practices of theorizing and experimentally engaging with them (Knorr Cetina). Ultimately, the question is how realities of democracy, along with the political authority they generate, are shaped through specific sciences and technologies of democracy.”

Submissions are welcomed until 20 February 2020 through the conference website: