Accepted Paper:

Experimenting the parliament as a platform. Design cultures at the french National Assembly  


Loup Cellard (University of Warwick)

Paper short abstract:

Based on a fieldwork at a civic tech lab in the french National Assembly, this talk will show how design expertises and methods are used to experiment the creation of a "parliament as a platform" and will ask whether citizens points of view are avoided or integrated in this experimental crafting.

Paper long abstract:

Situated at the crossroads of the social studies of demonstration (Barry, 1999) and an emerging design sociology (Lupton, 2017), this talk will give an account of an ethnographic inquiry conducted at a civic technology lab: the "Bureau Ouvert" of the french National Assembly. The heterogeneous members of the "Bureau Ouvert" are co-producing law tracking devices attempting to make possible the collaboration between citizens and deputies. The focus of this talk will be on showing the role of these socio-material experiments in performing the project of a "parliament as a platform".

The basic principle of this expression is to transform the texts produced during law making into an open data infrastructure where third-parties extract information and contribute to law orientations. But the fuzziness of the "platformization" metaphor makes the true objectives of this project unclear. Nevertheless, the experimentations conducted are a way of technically testing and politically demonstrating this organizational wish.

While STS scholarship has shown how science and technology cultures of experimentations strongly fed liberal-democratic practices (Ezrahi, 1990), very few contributions have been focused on how design expertises create artefacts testing and publicizing democratic experimentations. This shift to design is crucial for studying how the horizon of a "parliament as a platform" is performed by various collectives through the configuration of design artefacts (i.e. mockups, prototypes of digital interfaces). During this talk my key concern will be to situate the citizens positions in co-producing this utopia of a "parliament as a platform" designed through intense iterative testings and demonstrations.

Panel E09
Experiments in democracy