Author:Jorge Martín Sainz de los Terreros (University College of London)
Paper short abstract:
In light of current debates around participation in urban planning, this paper draws away from defining participation; rather, it explores how different modes of participation coexist.
Paper long abstract:
This paper does not intend to define participation; it does not question what participation is, nor who (or 'what' in STS terms) participates. Rather, it studies the deployment of different modes of participation, their relationships and interdependencies in an urban site; in other words, it explores how different modes of participation coexist. To do so, it presents the case of el Campo de Cebada—a publicly-owned urban site in Madrid temporarily leased to a heterogeneous groups of people.
The aim is to tentatively understand how the specific ecology of participation of El Campo de Cebada is deployed, what actors account for what mode of participation, and how those different modes affect each other. In particular, two modes of participation will be discussed: (1) participation as an instrument for decision-making processes; (2) participation as a performative phenomenon (Marres 2012).
The paper is based on ethnographic fieldwork developed during 2015, and accounts for the ways in which participation is understood in everyday practices and how it affects the development of the politics on site. It depicts heterogeneous actors—i.e. neighbours, institutions, documents, collectives—and their participatory practices and relations. It also shows how participation emerges and is enacted by these different actors in different manners, calling—explicitly or implicitly—for a public common ground—i.e. deliberative or conflictual processes. The purpose of the paper is to show that participation is multiple and its overlapped and conflictual relationships are not necessarily problematic.
Ecologies of participation: Thinking systemically about science and technology by other means