When citizens step in

Interpretive Policy Analysis-11th International Conference-Hull 5-7th July 2016

Appel à communication

“When citizens step in”.

Citizen participation in environmental topics. Conditions and obstacles.

deadline 15 février 2016

Jean-Gabriel Contamin CERAPS Université Lille Nord de France, jean-gabriel.contamin@univ-lille2.fr.

Martine Legris Revel CERAPS Université Lille Nord de France, mart.revel@gmail.com

In recent years, state and corporate bodies have increasingly used participatory devices in order to facilitate citizen participation in the context of a crisis of representative democracy. Those institutionalized forms of debate, conceived in a top down approach are even becoming compulsory in different fields of public action. However, these devices seem to both stimulate and channel citizen participation in decision making processes. More and more scholars studying these institutional devices criticize this “procedural tropism”.

In reaction, new forms of democracy and social participation are spreading around the world. Powerful electronic networks, beyond institutional control, have created opportunities for horizontal - as opposed to traditionally vertical - communication, bringing people new means to influence decision-making processes. Yet it has also been demonstrated that even these new forms of participation are not free from phenomena of domination and hierarchy. And especially when the involved issues seem more technical and scientific.

The environmental protection-related issues are particularly interesting in this perspective. Because, firstly, there is a strong will of citizens to get involved. Because, then,  governments are introducing devices designed to take into account the point from citizens. And because, however, the citizen action seems to face a double hurdle: the power of decision of the policymakers and the technical knowledge of experts and scientists. Current mobilizations around the COP21 conference are very significant of these paradoxes.

The proposed panel aims to receive papers that address how citizens are able (or not) to be heard in participatory arenas (institutional ones, civic ones or through participatory research) on environmental topics. It is in this sense at the intersection of at least three topics of the conference : discourse analysis, participatory action research and STS. Contributions to this panel could add to a book by Springer on citizens argumentative strategies on environmental topics.

democracie participative recherche participative environnement