[CfP] Methodological Challenges in Participation Research




Córdoba, Spain, 4-5 November 2011  

    Organisers: Joan Font (IESA, CSIC) Donatella della Porta (IUE) Yves Sintomer (Université Paris 8)     Why this colloquium?

Research on participation processes developed by democratic institutions has grown considerably in recent decades. There have been substantial contributions from both a normative perspective as well as in empirical research. The gap between the two continues to be important, but there are more theoretically driven empirical contributions and more empirically documented normative proposals. Specific research, books and international events have been devoted to evaluating the development of these processes and to assessing their deliberative qualities or their democratic consequences.   Most of the influential research on the subject has been based on case studies related to specific experiences that have contributed decisively to our knowledge and understanding of participatory processes. The evaluation of participatory budgeting in Porto Alegre, Deliberative Opinion Polls in Denmark, policy specific neighborhood councils in Chicago and citizen assemblies in Canada or New England have generated some of the most interesting conclusions regarding what participation can deliver (and what it cannot).   The use of quantitatively oriented methodologies has also been incorporated in some of these case studies. This approach has been particularly evident in research about deliberation or about attitudes towards participatory processes, where general population surveys have also been used as crucial sources. The practice of enlarging the number of cases to be studied to include a set of similar experiences according to nationality and /or methodological characteristics has also become more common.   However, there has been no assessment regarding where we are from a methodological point of view. How much can we learn from these approaches? Are there other methodologies that have been neglected and that should be incorporated? Can we rely on official sources and existing reports or do we assume that no relevant information can be produced without field work? Is there any evidence that empathy resulting from long field work has biased our results? What can experimental designs teach us about the effects of deliberation? Can we learn anything about attitudinal transformation without the use of longitudinal data?   Methodological options also have substantive consequences. Is it possible that our chosen methodologies produce certain biases in our research agenda, leading us to miss important problems because they are difficult to measure, or strongly emphasizing others just because data is easily accessible? We are concerned about methodology, though not only with issues of methodological rigor, but also for its possible impact on the conclusions of our research. These are only a few of the questions we would like to address during the colloquium. Contributions from neighboring research areas such as political behavior, evaluation of public policies or regarding deliberative qualities in non-participatory processes can also decisively contribute to our understanding of the problems and potentials of each methodological approach. We welcome any contribution that focuses on these methodological challenges. General methodological assessments from consolidated researchers and contributions from young researchers working on their PhD are welcomed. Empirical papers using any kind of methodology or providing a critical assessment of the advantages/problems of any methodological approach are especially welcome.   The goal of the colloquium is to gather together a small number of people working in these fields. The colloquium will include several sessions where papers will be presented and discussed, as well two plenary lectures. A selection of the papers presented will be published in a monograph volume of an ISI indexed journal.


Practical information:

·  Deadline for proposals: March 15 ·  Proposals: maximum 1 page abstract, in English, with brief CV of the authors ·  Notification of papers accepted by April 30 ·  Final papers must be received by October 10th ·  A selection of the papers presented in the colloquium will become a monograph of the journal Revista Internacional de Sociologia, an ISI indexed CSIC journal. Articles can be published in English or Spanish. ·  Participants must arrange and pay for travel and accommodation. IESA will provide a list of convenient hotel locations and pay for at least one dinner. ·  Contact: iesa_jornadasparticipacion2011@iesa.csic.es