STS scholars have begun to break down normative assumptions about participatory practices to understand them as co-produced, relational and emergent. This panel opens up to diverse collectives of participation to explore their co-production and interrelations within wider systems and constitutions.
Recent developments in STS mean that 'participation' has become a productive term for thinking about science and technology by other means. This has not always been the case; traditionally STS has often entertained relatively fixed conceptions of participation where the subjects and normativities of participation have been largely pre-given and assumed. Over the past decade students of participation in STS have begun to break down these 'democratic givens' to understand how democratic practices are themselves co-produced, relational and emergent. Forms of participation in science and democracy are being viewed as socio-material experiments and innovations in themselves, thus opening up the analytical frame to symmetrically consider diversities of participation, their construction, circulation, controversies and effects across cultures. This moves beyond discursive and deliberative public participation with science by usual means, to encompass distributed participatory collectives which perform science by other means in hybrid spaces of technology domestication, social innovation, grassroots innovation, uninvited participation, co-design, makerspaces, activism, citizen science, and so on. While most studies still remain centred on situated case studies, masking important interrelations between cases and viewing them as somehow separate from systems of science and democracy, this session moves beyond a focus on discrete collectives to consider interconnected 'ecologies of a participation' and democratic innovations as part of wider systems. This brings different theoretical traditions in STS, political theory and cognate disciplines into direct conversation, including work on deliberative systems, socio-technical system transitions, systems of practice and co-productionist STS work on participatory collectives and constitutions.