Participatory devices and the problems of public engagement - SS2016





Laurie Waller, Tomás Sánchez Criado

Citizen Participation and Technical Democracy

Architektur/ Urbanistik


Citizen participation is central to democratic life in technologically advanced societies. This course will introduce and critically assess a range of technical devices designed to expand and enhance citizen participation and democracy. Almost everyday new technologies are developed that claim to expand opportunities for user and citizen participation in such projects: from smart energy meters to interactive museum exhibits and from open source software to “user friendly” computers, users and citizens are increasingly equipped with devices that promise them more power, voice and control over their lives and environments. We find many similar promises offered by state actors, NGOs and industry when experimenting with new participatory processes such as consensus conferences, citizen juries or hackathons. But, is participation just the latest buzzword adopted by governments, corporations and scientific elites when publicly justifying what they do? In what ways do these devices help us built more democratic societies? Can these developments enhance political participation in the major contemporary challenges we face like –e.g. climate change, energy futures, ageing populations or disease epidemics–? In this course students will learn about the design of a range of participatory devices that they will critically assess from both technical and political perspectives. The course will enable students to engage with both the practical design of participatory devices and theoretical traditions that inform their development. Students will learn to critically evaluate the mix of expertise required to address the democratic challenges of advanced technological and industrial societies.
Course materialSS2016 Participatory devices.pdf