Pre-Doc Seminar - Karin Hansson

Performative States: Power, belonging and representation online

Date and Place: June 18, 2014, 12.30-15.30, room 6405A, Stockholms universitet  DSV forum 100 Kista

Opponent: Associate Professor Erling Björgvinsson

Supervisor: Professor Love Ekenberg
Co-Supervisors: Ylva Gislén and Måns Wrange

"How can participatory processes online be understood without relying on a simplistic view of technology and participation? New information communication technologies (ICT) support new types of public spheres, while at the same time globalization challenges the traditional base for democracy, undermining local attempts to support democracy with ICT. Therefore it is important to carefully investigate the participatory processes at stake when creating ICT systems aimed at supporting democracy. But the current e-participatory field lacks coherent theories and concepts to describe democratic e-participation. Most e-participation projects are based on a simplified liberal or deliberative idea of democracy that takes the nation state as its base for democracy. How can political participatory processes online be understood in the dynamic, fluid and highly mediated situations of contemporary society? In this thesis, this question is explored through an iterative process in two studies that have used or have resulted in three prototypes and one art exhibition. The first study is of communication practices in a global interest community, which resulted in two prototypes; Actory, a groupware that takes differences rather than equality as the starting-point for a collaborative tool, and The Affect Machine, a social network where differences are used as a relational capital. The second study is of communication practices in a local common where the art exhibition Performing the Common created a public space for involving participants, which resulted in Njaru, a collaboration tool with integrated decision support and visualization of representation in decision-making.In summary, these works depart from the notion of the importance of belonging for e-participation, where the individual can be seen as a participant in several performative states, more or less interconnected trans-local communities. Here the individuals participation in the local common room compete with participation in other communities, and affect the conditions for local democracy. The thesis contributes to a deeper understanding of these processes, and shows how local participation can be strengthened with the help of ICT. The result of the thesis is a model for how to look at democratic participation online where the individual is the starting point rather than an organization. In this model of a recursive democratic process e-participation simplified means an ICT enhanced method to get a diversity of opinions and perspectives rather then one single. Furthermore I present an epistemological and ontological map over e-participation that can be used to articulate different participatory positions when developing tools for e-participation."