Accepted Paper:

Private issues in public spaces: Shifting engagement formats in a Citizen Conference on ICT  


Juan C. Aceros (Universidad Industrial de Santander)
Miquel Domènech (Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona)

Paper long abstract:

The 'participatory turn' in STS has resulted in growth of arrangements designed to consult and make decisions on techno-scientific matters of public concern. In their form of 'deliberative procedures', these arrangements are opening up to the heterogeneity of voices and perspectives. However, are they open to the heterogeneity of modes of solidarity? We study this issue following Laurent Thevenot's approach to what he calls "regimes of engagement". The data used in the research come from an ethnographic approach to a Citizen Conference on ICT and older people held recently in Spain. The analysis of the ways participants and organizers deal with personal worries and testimonies expressed during the Conference shed light on the tensions between intimate and public forms of engagement. We intend to prove how the procedure's architecture orients people to some engagement formats, constituting others as matters of non-concern. In particular, the arrangement seems to be more attentive to 'civic' solidarities; thus organizers and participants deploy visible efforts on shifting the engagement far from familiar attachments, intimate places and personal convictions. As a result, an absence of concern on ‛private issues' is produced, and the Citizen Conference becomes a 'public space' oppressive for familiar experiences. The outcomes of our analysis call for a major integration of a plurality of engagement formats in participatory experiences and procedures.

Panel C4
Non-concerns about science and technology and within STS