[Conference] Public Participation, Participatory Democracy: State of Knowledge & Research Agenda


of the Research Group
        Democracy & Participation

       18-21 octobre 2011
       Amphithéâtre François Furet
105, boulevard Raspail, Paris 6

The national research group (chaired by CNRS, the French National Center for Scientific Research) on Participatory Democracy and Public Participation in Decision-Making organizes an international interdisciplinary symposium in October 2011. This inaugural event proposes to give an assessment of recent research on public participation in decision-making processes.
Scholars of diverse disciplines (political science, sociology of public action, sociology of social movements, urban planning, law, media studies, social studies of sciences, geography, economy, management, social psychology, linguistics …) are carrying work in this research field. The aim of the symposium is to summarize their main results and to put them into perspective as they often ignore each others' scientific programs and main hypothesis. The Conference intends to bring them together and to discuss their main results.

The conference has a triple objective:
  •  It aims at framing a first cartography of these dispersed worlds of research on public participation, and at establishing bridges between disciplinary approaches and theoretical frameworks.
  • It also aims at making a critical assessment of the available literature, identifying its main results, its invariants, but also at underlying its contradictions, lacks and blind spots.
  • Finally, it aims at raising questions for a future research agenda. The ambition and the difficulties of such a project are to bring together elements for a state of the art and a prospective thinking.

The conference will be organized over three days,
from Wednesday 19th to Friday  21st, October 2011, in Paris.
The Conference will be preceded by one doctoral day on Tuesday October 18th, 2011. 

During the main part of the conference, 8 recognized specialists will give an assessment of the research undertaken during the last two decades in 8 distinct fields:
  • Theories of deliberative democracy
  • Public participation and public action
  • Public participation and environment
  • Public participation and social movements
  • Public participation and public engagement with sciences and technologies
  • Public participation, urban planning and management of the city
  • Public participation and Law
  • Public participation, information and communication
It is requested from each of these specialists to answer the three issues of the Conference. First, they will draw a cartography of each particular disciplinary field on our topic (structuring questions, preferred objects, dominant theoretical frameworks, evolutions of the concerns on short and long term…) for non-specialists of this field. Second, they will also give a critical appraisal of this production, allowing an informed debate open to each participant. This exercise will be at the same time academic and subjective, even polemic! Each intervention will be followed by a short discussion held by a researcher of another discipline or another country, before a wider discussion with the audience that we wish as fruitfull as possible.

The 4 half-days of the conference will be organized around two sessions of 1h30 each organized as followed:
  • Main Communication (25' - 30')
  • Intervention of a discussant (10' - 15')
  • Discussion with the audience (40' - 50').

The two days dedicated to the state of the art review will be followed by one day based upon a call for papers on one of the broad transverse topics described earlier: the evaluation of the effects of the public participation.

In order to make the most of these interdisciplinary exchanges, we wish to prepare them in advance by publishing the main communications before the Conference, so that the main communications will be available  before the conference starts. An agreement is being negotiated with a new academic review, Participations (De Boeck editions), which will issue a n°0 including these communications specially for the Conference. This Internet web site will also host a forum in order to exchange prior to the Conference.