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La 4e de couverture indique : "What is the role of things in political participation ? This inventive book offers a fresh perspective on everyday forms of engagement, one that foregrounds the role of objects, technology and settings in relation to public involvement. It makes a distinctive contribution to debates about the material dimension of democracy, proposing that we must attend more closery to the settings in which things acquire the power to engage. It develops this argument through a series of case studies of contemporary devices of participation, such as smart electricity meters, demonstrational eco-homes and sustainable living gadgets. This book then offers a novel approach to the analysis of specifically material forms of paticipation. "Material participation" explores the next steps that might be taken in social studies of engagement, technology and the environment, focusing our critical and creative attention squarely on the materials and devices of the public."
Changing relations between science and democracy – and controversies over issues such as climate change, energy transitions, genetically modified organisms and smart technologies – have led to a rapid rise in new forms of public participation and citizen engagement. While most existing approaches adopt fixed meanings of ‘participation’ and are consumed by questions of method or critiquing the possible limits of democratic engagement, this book offers new insights that rethink public engagements with science, innovation and environmental issues as diverse, emergent and in the making. Bringing together leading scholars on science and democracy, working between science and technology studies, political theory, geography, sociology and anthropology, the volume develops relational and co-productionist approaches to studying and intervening in spaces of participation. New empirical insights into the making, construction, circulation and effects of participation across cultures are illustrated through examples ranging from climate change and energy to nanotechnology and mundane technologies, from institutionalised deliberative processes to citizen-led innovation and activism, and from the global north to global south. This new way of seeing participation in science and democracy opens up alternative paths for reconfiguring and remaking participation in more experimental, reflexive, anticipatory and responsible ways. This ground-breaking book is essential reading for scholars and students of participation across the critical social sciences and beyond, as well as those seeking to build more transformative participatory practices.
In Material Politics, author Andrew Barry reveals that as we are beginning to attend to the importance of materials in political life, materials has become increasingly bound up with the production of information about their performance, origins, and impact. Presents an original theoretical approach to political geography by revealing the paradoxical relationship between materials and politics Explores how political disputes have come to revolve not around objects in isolation, but objects that are entangled in ever growing quantities of information about their performance, origins, and impact Studies the example of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline – a fascinating experiment in transparency and corporate social responsibility – and its wide-spread negative political impact Capitalizes on the growing interdisciplinary interest, especially within geography and social theory, about the critical role of material artefacts in political life
‘Digital Sociology is definitive for anyone interested in social research with digital data. Lucidly and generatively, it analyses how digital data increasingly render knowledge a core contemporary social problem. Drawing on great experience with digital methods, and excellent sociological and philosophical scholarship, Marres generously and incisively explores the predicaments of knowing the digital and digital knowing. The remarkable re-configurative potential of the book ranges from practical and technical considerations through to ethical and ontological questions associated with social life.’ Adrian MacKenzie, Lancaster University ‘Arguing that the advent of digital sociology affords an opportunity for wider critical reflection on social research, Noortje Marres is the perfect guide to developments and debates in computationally mediated methods and sociality. The scope and acuity of her review illustrate cogently how social worlds and their analyses are perpetually conjoined.’ Lucy Suchman, President of the Society for Social Studies of Science (4S) ‘Digital Sociology presents an intelligent and empathetic account of social enquiry with and against digital infrastructures. Among its many strengths is the licence it offers to problematize and conjure up objects for research in interaction with actors – digital and otherwise – who are busy redefining knowledge, sociality and politics.’ Brit Ross Winthereik, IT University of Copenhagen This provocative new introduction to the field of digital sociology offers a critical overview of interdisciplinary debates about new ways of knowing society that are emerging today at the interface of computing, media, social research and social life. Digital Sociology introduces key concepts, methods and understandings that currently inform the development of specifically digital forms of social enquiry. Marres assesses the relevance and usefulness of digital methods, data and techniques for the study of sociological phenomena and evaluates the major claim that computation makes possible a new ‘science of society’. As Marres argues, the digital does much more than inspire innovation in social research: it forces us to engage anew with fundamental sociological questions. We must learn to appreciate that the digital has the capacity to throw into crisis existing knowledge frameworks and is likely to reconfigure wider relations. This timely engagement with a key transformation of our age will be indispensable reading for undergraduate and graduate students taking courses in digital sociology, digital media, computing and society. Noortje Marres is Associate Professor in the Centre for Interdisciplinary Methods at the University of Warwick.
The tension between professional expertise and democratic governance has become increasingly significant in Western politics. Environmental politics in particular is a hotbed for citizens who actively challenge the imposition of expert theories that ignore particular local knowledge that can help to relate technical facts to social values. In Citizens, Experts, and the Environment Frank Fischer explores this often strained interaction between technical environmental experts and citizen participants and proposes a new model of politics based on participatory inquiry and citizen-expert synergy. Where information ideologues see the modern increase in information as capable of making everyone smarter, others see the emergence of a society divided between those with and those without knowledge. Suggesting realistic strategies to bridge this divide, Fischer calls for meaningful non-expert involvement in policymaking and shows how the deliberations of ordinary citizens can help solve complex social and environmental problems by contributing non-technical knowledge to the professionals' expertise. While incorporating theoretical critiques of positivism and methodology, he also offers hard evidence to demonstrate that the ordinary citizen is capable of a great deal more participation than is generally recognised. Recent situations in Copenhagen, Denmark; Woburn, Massachusetts; and Kerala, India, serve as models of the participatory inquiry he proposes, showing how the local knowledge of citizens is invaluable to policy formation. In his conclusion Fischer moves his model from the context of environmental issues to the larger societal issues of deliberative structures and participatory democracy. This study will interest political scientists, public policy practitioners, sociologists, scientists, environmentalists, activists, urban planners, and public administrators along with those interested in understanding the relationship between democracy and science in a modern technological society.
The Professionalization of Public Participation is an edited collection of essays by leading and emerging scholars examining the emerging profession of public participation professionals. Public participation professionals are persons working in the public, private, or third sectors that are paid to design, implement, and/or facilitate participatory forums. The rapid growth and proliferation of participatory arrangements call for expertise in the organizing of public participation. The contributors analyze the professionalization of this practice in different countries (United States, France, Canada, Italy, and the United Kingdom) to see how their actions challenge the development of participatory arrangements. Designing such processes is a delicate activity, since it may affect not only the quality of the processes and their legitimacy, but also their capacity to influence decision-making.

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