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P141


Invisibility and public participation: engaging with disregarded, discarded, and hidden practices 
Convenors:
Olga Zvonareva (Maastricht University)
Ellen Stewart (University of Glasgow)
Lotte Krabbenborg (Institute for Science in Society, Radboud University)
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Format:
Traditional Open Panel

Short Abstract:

We invite engagements with various invisibilities of public participation. Which participatory practices are rendered invisible and how? Which transformations can be brought about through STS engagements with disregarded, discarded, and hidden practices of shaping matters of collective concern?

Long Abstract:

While "participatory turns" have been reported across fields like science governance, healthcare, and urban development in recent decades, the mainstream approaches to organizing and evaluating participation primarily emphasize discrete, explicit, and talk-based activities, excluding other diverse practices highlighted by STS scholarship as contributing to shaping matters of collective concern.

Such exclusion may operate in different ways, but it nearly always produces some forms of invisibility. Dominant conceptions of participation tend to view participation as deliberative, discursive, and public. This focus renders practices that, in comparison, appear to be too mundane, private, and/or material, invisible for analysts and regulators, who consequently disregard their participatory potential. Alternatively, engagement with public issues might take forms authoritative groups disapprove of because of their conflictual and disruptive character. While these forms may be highly noticeable, they are primarily read as, for example, acts of vandalism or irrational protests of unruly public, and are rejected as communicative interventions within the governance of societal life. Finally, in some situations and settings participation may be discouraged or even faced with hostility. Under such circumstances participation may involve working around formal procedures and public spaces and depend on remaining hidden. Yet, since public participation tends to be conceptualized as dependent on making issues visible and debatable, these hidden practices often escape scrutiny, and their value remains invisible for anyone apart from those directly involved.

We invite contributions that engage with various invisibilities of public participation globally. How and what kinds of participatory practices are rendered invisible and with which consequences? What kinds of transformations can be brought about through STS engagements with disregarded, discarded, and hidden practices of shaping matters of collective concern? How can such engagements proceed in reflexive and responsible manner that does not aggravate the situations of endangered collectives?

Accepted papers: