Reference : Participation as a lab and a democratic experiment
Scientific congresses and symposiums : Unpublished conference/Abstract
Social & behavioral sciences, psychology : Sociology & social sciences
Law, criminology & political science : Political science, public administration & international relations
Participation as a lab and a democratic experiment
Delvenne, Pierre mailto [Université de Liège - ULiège > Département de science politique > Département de science politique >]
Macq, Hadrien mailto [Université de Liège - ULiège > Département de science politique > Politique et norme >]
Parotte, Céline mailto [Université de Liège - ULiège > Département de science politique > Gouvernance et société >]
Science and Democracy Network 17th Annual Workshop
from June 27 2018 to June 30 2018
Science and Democracy Network ; Munich Center for Technology in Society
[en] Public participation ; Public engagement with science ; Participatory experiments ; Deliberative governance ; Co-creation ; Living Lab ; World Wide Views ; Hackathon ; Science and Technology Studies
[en] In the last two decades, STS scholars pointed at a “participatory turn” in science, technology and innovation (Irwin 2001, Jasanoff 2003, Wynne 2006). Decisively informed by STS, participatory experiments across the world were usually framed against the limitations of technocratic approaches and traditional innovation processes, to allow for new forms of democratic engagement. Informed by a co-productionist perspective on participation (Jasanoff 2004, Felt and Fochler 2010, Chilvers and Longhurst 2016, Laurent 2017), this paper builds on, and expands, a paradigm shift in technologies of participation, toward what has been labelled “lab participation”. In short, participation as a lab experiment can be characterized as a form of participation organized by professional participation specialists, taking place under controlled conditions (Bogner 2012). We point at a significant extension of lab participation, not anymore limited to the retreat of participation into spaces insulated from the real-world, but now also including the variety of collective experiments where technologies are tested in real-world conditions, i.e. in ‘Living-Labs’, ‘Fab-Labs’ or ‘test beds'.
This paper draws on several years of ethnographic fieldwork across different sites where technologies of lab participation were deployed. We compare two contrasted projects, the organization of a European citizens’ summit on sustainable consumption and the creation of a Living-Lab to involve end-users to co-create innovations in the health sector in Wallonia. While the former project is an ‘instant democracy’ (Sloterdijk and von der Haegen 2005) experiment, responding to sophisticated methodological standards and taking place in a closed environment, the latter is a society-as-a-lab experiment oriented toward ‘innovation-making’ and economic growth. We stress that publics’ involvement in either policy-making or innovation responds to imperatives of intensification and acceleration in order to extract “value” from participants. We conclude by examining the implications of this deepened shift toward lab participation for the performance of democratic orders.

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