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Accepted Paper:

Parliaments as political and institutional spaces. Exploring the role of spatial settings, materiality and symbols in political practice  
Sandrine Roginsky (UCLouvain)

Paper short abstract:

Places matter and influence actors' experience of navigating it as a political space. Through an ethnography within and near the European Parliament in Brussels, we inquire into how political actors make use of the (online & offline) space when it comes to political practice.

Paper long abstract:

Space is an empirical and theoretical entry point into research on culture, relationships and symbolism - all critical to the processes involved in political work. Political space is only beginning to receive attention in the study of Parliaments. There is still a perplexing blind spot with regard to the meaning of spatial settings for political practice. The goal of this communication is to better understand how materiality contributes to shaping social interactions between politicians and others and, therefore, to better understand the materiality and spatial context of political work. The internet also contributes to an expansion of space. Parliaments have developed their own online presence on the one hand, while on the other hand internet and technology artefacts are very much present in the offline context of Parliaments. Political practice is thus shaped by the material forms and spaces through which actors act and interact. We will focus on the European Parliament and its related (offline and online) spatial settings (the "Brussels bubble") where politicians meet and interact with colleagues and other actors. Ethnography offers us remarkably rich opportunities to explore parliaments and political spaces in terms of the norms, beliefs and practices of those who operate inside them, thereby advancing our understanding of these institutions and how they are understood, navigated and utilized by political actors. The objective is explore whether and how spatial settings interact with political practice and policy making and how political actors make use of the space.

Panel P094b
Ethnography of Parliaments [LAW NET]