Democratic Situations

Andreas Birkbak (Editor), Irina Maria Clara Hansen Papazu (Editor)

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Democratic Situations challenges researchers and students in Science & Technology Studies and related fields to treat democracy as an empirical phenomenon. This means leaving behind off-the-shelf theoretical notions of democracy that may have travelled into STS unexamined. The alternative strategy pursued in this volume is to pay as much analytical attention to the study of democratic politics as STS has previously offered to familiar topics of science and technology. This timely collection of empirical stories and conceptual inventions leads the way by showing how the making and doing of democracy can be placed at the centre of relational research.

The book turns the well-known sites of contemporary Euro-American participatory democracy, such as elections, bureaucracies, public debate and citizen participation, into fluctuating democratic situations where supposedly untouchable democratic ideals are shaped, contested and warped in practice. The fact that Euro-American participatory democracy is often upheld as an ideal for the rest of the world makes it all the more important to study how it is a situated, distributed, material, emergent, heterogenous, fragile and at times faltering figure and project. Through situated analyses, the authors demonstrate that democracy cannot be reduced to theoretical ideals and schemes of conflict, institutions, or deliberation. Instead, the volume offers an urgently needed empirically driven renewal of our understanding of democratic politics in a time when conventional ideas increasingly fail to capture current events such as Brexit, Trump and Covid19.

The twelve chapters are organised into three sections. The first part, entitled Interfaces of technodemocracy, focuses on how democratic politics is co-shaped by its interfaces with more or less rigid institutions and bureaucracies. The second section, Technosciences, democracy and situated enactments of participation, emphasises the relationships between science and public participation. The third part called Reconfigurations of democratic politics with new nonhuman actors focuses on the role of material objects, especially new digital technologies, in democratic politics.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationManchester, UK
PublisherMattering Press
Number of pages274
ISBN (Print)9781912729302 (pbk)
ISBN (Electronic)9781912729319 (html), 9781912729128 (pdf), 9781912729135 (epub)
Publication statusPublished - 18 May 2022


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  • EASST 2022: Politics of Technoscientific Futures

    Andreas Birkbak (Organizer)

    6 Jul 20229 Jul 2022

    Activity: Attending an eventOrganisation or participation in workshops, courses, seminars, exhibitions or similar

  • Book launch: Democratic Situations

    Andreas Birkbak (Organizer), Irina Papazu (Organizer) & Anders Blok (Participant)

    8 Jun 2022

    Activity: Attending an eventOrganisation or participation in workshops, courses, seminars, exhibitions or similar

  • STS and Democracy

    Andreas Birkbak (Organizer)

    23 Nov 201724 Nov 2017

    Activity: Attending an eventOrganisation or participation in workshops, courses, seminars, exhibitions or similar

  • Democratic Situations event(s) report: An intervention by Anders Blok

    Birkbak, A., Blok, A. & Papazu, I., 2022, In: EASST Review. 42, 2

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleCommunication

    Open Access
  • Introducing democratic situations

    Birkbak, A. & Papazu, I., 18 May 2022, Democratic Situations. Birkbak, A. & Papazu, I. (eds.). Manchester, UK: Mattering Press, p. 15-44

    Research output: Contribution to book/anthology/report/conference proceedingBook chapterResearchpeer-review

    Open Access
  • Situating Democratic Futures

    Papazu, I., Birkbak, A., Waller, L. & Moats, D., 2022.

    Research output: Contribution to conference without publisher/journalConference abstract for conferenceResearchpeer-review

    Open Access

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