Call for papers Study Day: Friday 21st, October 2011


Outline of the Study Day:

Effects of Public Participation:
Examining the evolving different approaches

After more than one decade of theoretical work devoted to deliberation, and of empirical researches emphasizing the heterogeneity of the devices of participatory democracy, the idealistic or cynical approaches gave way to studies analyzing the effects of the participatory tools on participants (individual and collective) and politics with more precision. Beyond the immediate consequences of the participation on the decision-making, the study day aims at exploring the politics co-producing process and the collective action transformations in order to evaluate the influence of participation.

Updating the analysis of participation effects

The main goal of this study day is to explore in their broadest sense the effects of participation by:

-reconsidering the influence of deliberative arenas

-clarifying the unexpected effects (on actors networks, on participation territories or on the public problems typology).

Therefore, revalorizing the role of participation both as problem-solving-oriented cooperative action and as decision-making-oriented confrontational activity, the historical researches on participatory democracy exhort to pay attention at effects such as:

- Multiscalar  building of public problems ;

-Citizens education and production of political behaviors (in conformity with some specific ideas of democracy);

-Empowerment and capabilities processes

-Knowledge production and know-how for collective action

- Transformations of common sense

This new standpoint implies an analysis of practices and actors

-who appropriate the offer of participation;

-who resist to this offer;

-who mix different practices, in or out of the institutional devices

Thereafter, it seems interesting to:

-identify actors, networks and coalitions which can use participation as a tool in their repertory of collective action

-understand their practices

-categorize the different forms and territorial scales of their involvement

Main topics

Different levels of un-/expected effects of participation:

Individual effects for participants:

- Politicization process

- Political competences and practical knowledge of the ordinary citizens

Effects on mobilizations and social movements:

 - Contemporary transformations of public space

- Redefinition of the repertories of collective action, on various territorial scales (from local to global)

- Politicization/depoliticization of social actors

- Renewal of civic engagement

- Emergence of non-institutionalized participatory practices oriented towards the understanding of issues

- Structuring organizational training

- Publicizing mobilizations through the mass media

Effects on public action:

- “Participative production” of public action

- Social participation initiatives at various levels of government

- role of public arenas in the politicization  of public problems

- influence of participation on technologies of government, adiministratives practices and political actors

A comparison between several public sectors would be interesting in order to:

- analyze their differentiated capacities to produce an offer of participation

- understand how entiresides of public sectors are incorporated or not to the logics of this new mode of governmentality

Structural (macro or long-term) effects on the political system and the modes of political representation:

- Structuring of the public problems

- Impacts of participation on the evolving issues such as sustainable development, social equality, redistribution and solidarity, science-society relations, freedom and rights extension, urban planning and metropolization, globalization, etc.

- Influence of participatory democracy on representative democracy

- Feed-back effects on the differentiated institutionalization of various devices

- induced changes  in the citizens’relation to the development and application of law

Cultural effects on the representations of  democracy as a social form, and not only as a political regime:

- How can participatory democracy lead to more social justice?

- How does participation contribute to the production of a democratic culture, by redefining public uses of rationality, conceptions of civil society  and modes of exercise of citizenship ; while transforming the representation of political legitimacy, law and ethics ?

These multiple interrogations call for a multi-disciplinary treatment.

We welcome proposals coming from the various disciplines of social sciences.

Methodologies for the study of the effects of participation:

Which disciplinary foci are selected to study the question of participation?

Which are the consequences of these orientations on the produced analyses?

Which types of effects are occulted/developed?

-Effects on the capacity of individuals or social movements to take actions?

-Effects on the governability of territories?

-Effects on decision making

How to cope:

-with the risk of overemphasizing some effects?

-with the problems of articulation of explanatory variables?

-with the limits induced by a simple accumulation of knowledge?

-with the difficulties of a theoretical generalization of the empirical results?

Which methodological preferences for the evaluation of the participation effects?

- Creation of quantitative tools?

- Case by case comparisons in order to confirm the invariants and to formulate hypotheses of causality?

The congress invites both younger and established scholars in the field of participatory studies. The main objective is to encourage dialogue between researchers in sociology, political theory, human geography, public policy, law, philosophy, and planning studies among others.

Different types of papers are invited for this study day: theoretical elaborations, empirical investigations and case studies that analyze the effects of participation.

Abstract submission

Proposals of two pages (app. 1.000 words) should indicate the main topic chosen and mention the empirical studies on which they are based.

Electronic submission only >>>

Deadline for proposals: May 20, 2011.


Notification of acceptance will be given by June 20, 2011.

Papers will be due on October 7, 2011.