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Experiments in participation

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Experiments in participation

We investigate the ways in which experiments enable engagement and engagement enables experimentation: under what conditions do experiments bring opportunities for creative collaboration, constructive problem articulation and the cultivation of transformative alliance?

Real-world experimentation — in living labs, on online media platforms and in public art — is widely appreciated as a way to create new economies and ecologies of innovation in the worlds of science and engineering, democratic governance, advocacy, art and activism. At the same time, the conditions and structure of these experiments conducted in – and on - society are increasingly informed by techno-scientific, environmental and political developments, which affect their capacities to produce knowledge and social change in ways we don’t fully understand yet.

Research at CIM examines how experiments in society affect the meaning and significance of participation, and how they provide opportunities to define and change relations between diverse constituencies. However, a variety of approaches, from social science and engineering, policy-making and the arts, are currently making competing claims to experimentation across diverse areas of life. By coupling experimentation with participation, we can transform established methodological framings in science, democracy, art and everyday life.

Smart city demonstrations, data leaks and hacks, intelligent technology tests, emergencies, performance art, environmental actions and civic protests offer opportunities to investigate the precise ways in which experimentation can activate and expand engagement, transform relationships and environments, and enable social life and relations to be renegotiated.


Publications & other outputs

  • Gerlitz, C., & Lury, C. (2014). Social media and self-evaluating assemblages: On numbers, orderings and values. Distinktion: Scandinavian Journal of Social Theory, 15(2), 174-188.
  • Lezaun, J., Marres, N., & Tironi, M. (2016). Experiments in participation. In The Handbook of Science and Technology Studies (p. 195). Cambridge (Mass.): MIT Press.
  • Marres, N. (2012). Material participation: technology, the environment and everyday publics. Basingstoke: Palgrave.
Photo credit: Place de la République, Paris, May 1 2017. By Naomi Waltham-Smith.