Tag Archives: intermediaries

Mediating Energy Publics workshop, UEA London, April 3rd 2014

Happy to announce the details of the third seminar in the Publics then, now and beyond network‘s travelling seminar series ‘Making Energy Publics’, which will take place on April 3rd at UEA London. This seminar is organised by Helen Pallet and Jason Chilvers, of UEA.

Speakers: Andrew Barry (UCL); Linda Soneryd (University of Gothenburg); Alison Mohr (University of Nottingham); Tom Hargreaves and Noel Longhurst (UEA); Nick Mahony and HIlde Stephansen (Open University).

Here’s the blub:

What publics think, know, say and do has become a central concern of energy research and policy. Existing approaches tend to imagine an external public existing in a natural state waiting to be revealed, engaged, or mobilised by science and democracy. Yet, energy publics are actively brought into being by the ways one seeks to know and move them. This seminar – a collaboration between the Open University Publics then, now and beyond network and the EPSRC Realising Transition Pathways Project – explores the possible academic and practical value of radically rethinking energy publics as being emergent and coproduced in relation to social, technical and political orders. In doing so it has three main areas of concern and possible contribution.

1. To consider competing theoretical explanations for the coproduction, making and mediation of energy publics – including the relative roles of technologies, objects, issues, procedures, settings, imaginaries, and forms of human action in shaping (and being shaped by) instances and practices of public formation.

2. To open up a more ‘system-wide’ and symmetrical exploration of the diverse sites and forms of making energy publics – ranging from public deliberations on energy policy through to performing smart technologies in the home, and from grassroots energy innovations through to forms of public protest – than mainstream social science theories and approaches which attend to specific parts of the energy ‘system’ and/or particular publics (like rational actors, consumers, deliberative citizens, civil society, users, everyday practitioners).

3. To consider how relations between science, governance and society would need to be reconfigured in order to better account for the inherent uncertainties, diversities, materialities, and competing visions of emergent energy publics.

You can register for this event here.

Have questions about Making Energy Publics? Contact Jason Chilvers and Helen Pallett

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‘Volatile’ and ‘transformative’ participation: new interviews published on Participation Now

At a conference on the theme of ‘Participatory Cultural Citizenship’ in Aarhus, in November 2013, we had the pleasure of interviewing  keynote speakers Leah Lievrouw and  Chris Kelty (who are both based at UCLA). This pair of interviews has now been published on the openDemocracy.net/Participation Now page:

Leah Lievrouw addresses the question of ‘When is citizen participation transformative?’ 

Chris Kelty talks about how he distinguishes between ‘Volatile, stable and extractive participation’

In other news, the design of the search functionality of Participation Now was updated earlier today. We think this update significantly improves the experience of filtering and exploring the collection of 100+ initiatives… give it a try and let us know what you think.

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Launch of editorial partnership between Participation Now and OpenDemocracy

Against the background of the crises, uprisings, occupations and institutional break-downs of recent years and in a context where debates about the need for new and more effective forms of public participation and action are becoming increasingly mainstream, this editorial partnership between the Open University’s new project Participation Now and openDemocracy has been set up to support the ongoing exploration, debate and development of the field of participatory public engagement.

Featuring short blog-style pieces including:

Could volunteering be bad for our health? by ELLEN STEWART

Knowing your citizens, making publics by HELEN PALLETT

Researching austerity: participatory engagement by JANET NEWMAN

Researching Occupy London by PAUL-FRANÇOIS TREMLETT

Keyword: public by SHANNON JACKSON

PPE in Oxford: people’s political economy by JOEL LAZARUS

The Ragged University by ALEX DUNEDIN

The nQuire young citizen inquiry by CHRISTOTHEA HERODOTOU

Project COBRA: community-owned solutions for the marginalised indigenous communities of the Guiana Shield, South America by ANDREA BERARDIJAY MISTRY, and CELINE TSCHIRHART

Participation Now is looking for short, blog-post style contributions (250-750 words) that draw on your own research and/or experiences related to public participation and public engagement. For more details see the Participation Now website and contact participation-now@open.ac.uk

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Public memories, public knowledge? Movements, media and shifting formations of publicness

Thursday 7th November, 12.30-14.00
Room NAB 1.14, New Academic Building, London School of Economics

The Publics then, now and beyond network, which was founded at the Open University in June this year, will be kick-starting its 2013-14 ‘travelling seminar series’ with a seminar at the London School of Economics on Thursday 7th November.

The Publics, then now and beyond network is convened by Dr Nick Mahony and Dr Hilde C. Stephansen. It is supported by CCIG’s Publics programme, the Creating Publics project, and the Making Publics Across Time and Space project. The travelling seminar series is also supported by the Faculty of Social Science at the Open University. This seminar is hosted by Media@LSE in collaboration with The Open University and the Publics then, now and beyond network. It will also be part of the Media@LSE Research Dialogues series.

Chair/discussant: Nick Couldry (LSE)
Speakers:
Pollyanna Ruiz (LSE) ‘Memories, secrets and digital archives’
Hilde C. Stephansen (The Open University) ‘Global communication activism and shifting formations of publicness’

About the seminar

This seminar will explore key questions about the making of publics and publicness through the use of media and communications technologies by social movement activists. Focusing on the practices, infrastructures and forms of mediation through which publics are brought into being, it will examine the shifting formations and imaginaries that result from such processes. Moving beyond the more immediate effects of activists’ communication practices on the mobilisation and organisation of protest action, we will consider the potential of such practices to support publics that can facilitate longer-term processes of identity construction, memory formation and knowledge production, at different scales. Papers will explore the uneven and often contradictory dynamics surrounding activists’ communication practices, raising questions about the relationship between ‘mainstream’ and ‘counter’-publics, openness and secrecy, and politics of knowledge.

Memories, Secrets and Digital Archives

Pollyanna Ruiz

This paper will reflect upon these contradictory dynamics surrounding the use of digital archives and in doing so explore the relationship between the past and the present, the activist and the non-activist, the alternative and the mainstream. The digital archive appears to span the ruptures, continuities and discontinuities of contemporary protest by creating a mechanism through which the past is accumulated in the present in order to shape our experiences of the future. According to this view, open archives constitute a space in which contemporary protest movements can draw upon the experience of previous activists and equip themselves with the necessary skills to engage with the mainstream. However digital archives can also be understood as potentially problematic. Archives remove protest discourses from the secure realm of ‘dusty back numbers’, ‘forgotten publications’ and ‘oral interviews with aged political veterans’ (Downing, 2003, p.252) and places protest discourses within a transparent, open and centrally organised system. Consequently digital archives fix, frame and expose alternative ways of thinking which are fragile, untried and still evolving. Digital archives can therefore also be understood as compromising the very existence of counter publics free from the ‘supervision of dominant groups’ (Fraser, 1990, p. 66).
Global communication activism and shifting formations of publicness

Hilde C. Stephansen

This paper explores shifting formations of publicness and globality in the context of the World Forum of Free Media (WFFM) – a process, connected to the World Social Forum (WSF), which aims to support the formation of a global grassroots movement of communication activists. Through a combination of prefigurative politics, organising and campaigning, activists involved in the WFFM are working to achieve the conditions for more democratic public spheres – at local, national and transnational scales. The paper proposes that an emergent version of a decentred ‘global public’ – constituted through a myriad intersecting publics at different scales – is discernible in the WFFM’s efforts to bring together a diversity of actors and media forms under the umbrella term ‘free media’. Such a version of a ‘global public’ contrasts with more liberal – and increasingly institutionalised – notions of publicness implicit in conceptions of the WSF as ‘open space’ or ‘global civil society’. The paper concludes by proposing an understanding of ‘free media’ as central actors in a broader project concerned with ‘cognitive justice’ (Santos) and as informed by an emergent logic of epistemic plurality.

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Public crises, public futures

Co-authored with John Clarke and just published in latest issue of the journal Cultural Studies (Vol. 27, no. 6, 2013) this article begins to map out a novel approach to analysing contemporary contexts of public crisis, relationships between them and possibilities that these scenes hold out for politics. The article illustrates and analyses a small selection of examples of these kinds of contemporary scenes and calls for greater attention to be given to the conditions and consequences of different forms and practices of public and political mediation. In offering a three-fold typology to delineate differences between ‘abject’, ‘audience’ and ‘agentic’ publics the article begins to draw out how political and public futures may be seen as being bound up with how the potentialities, capacities and qualities that publics are imagined to have and resourced to perform. Public action and future publics are therefore analysed here in relation to different versions of contemporary crisis and the political concerns and publics these crises work to articulate, foreground and imaginatively and practically support.

If you’re unable to access this journal, there’s also a preprint PDF version available here.

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