RGS-IBG Annual International Conference 2016


81 Relational geographies of participation (1)
Convenor(s) Jason Chilvers (University of East Anglia, UK)
Helen Pallett (University of East Anglia, UK)
Chair(s) Jason Chilvers (University of East Anglia, UK)
Timetable Wednesday 31 August 2016, Session 3 (14:40 - 16:20)
Session abstract For geographers the growth of interest in participation and participatory geographies would seem to go hand in hand with nexus thinking, with both approaches actively attending to interdependencies and interconnections across environmental issue domains, places, scales, and cultures. However, thinking relationally poses significant challenges for ‘participation’ as traditionally conceived within the discipline. Two aspects are particularly important. The first is a relative methodological emphasis on ‘doing’ participatory geographies, which invokes a dominant imaginary of participation as discrete collectives or ‘events’ occurring in particular times and places. Coupled with this is the predominance of relatively fixed and pre-given meanings and normativities of participation in geographical thought – as deliberative, discursive, agonistic, and so on. Work at the interface between geography, science and technology studies, and democratic theory is bringing forward new ways of thinking about and doing participation, taking a more relational approach. This not only has significant potential for addressing nexus challenges, but also helps to advance the agenda from a relative focus on doing ‘participatory geographies’ to one of also studying ‘geographies of participation’ (which can in turn serve to reconfigure participatory practices). This opens up a number of paths for the study of relational spaces of participation, including: Spaces of participation as experiments and socio-material practices ‘in the making’ – this draws attention to the processes of their construction and opens up to diversities of participation (beyond the public, discursive, and deliberative to also encompass the material, mundane, private, affective, and so on); Spaces where technologies of participation and democratic innovations become standardized and circulate across space and time – this includes the transnational circulation of models of participation (e.g. citizens panels, participatory action research, transition towns) across cultures, places and issue domains (e.g. of energy, climate change, health, water, food); ‘Ecologies of participation’ that are entangled in spaces of negotiation and controversies – this focuses on ‘political situations’ that overflow traditional jurisdictions (e.g. diverse forms of participation in fracking controversies cut across the energy, food, water, environmental justice nexus); The ways in which diverse spaces of participation form part of wider relational spaces, whether that be systems (‘deliberative systems’, ‘systems of practice’, socio-technical systems), constitutions, states, institutions, political cultures, landscapes, and so on.
Linked Sessions Relational geographies of participation (2)
Contact the conference organisers to request a change to session or paper details: AC2016@rgs.org
Who feels the magic? Relational spaces within nexus policy studies
Kirsty Blackstock (James Hutton Institute, UK)
Kerry Waylen (James Hutton Institute, UK)
Keith Matthews (The James Hutton Institute, UK)
Mario Giampietro (Autonomous University of Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain)
We will reflect on the generating space for participation within our H2020 project "Moving Towards Adaptive Governance in Complexity: Informing Nexus Security" (MAGIC). This project aims to bring together scientists from multiple disciplines and European policy actors within a transdisciplinary "nexus dialogue space". Within this space, we will use "Quantitative Story-Telling" (QST) underpinned by "social metabolism modelling" to explore policy scenarios within the European Commission. The paper will critically reflect on the co-construction practices of this "nexus dialogue space", illustrating how the 'space' is a constellation of places, purposes, people and possibilities. We are asking ourselves: How do complex and dynamic interpersonal relationships condition the outcomes of the socio-technical practices associated with QST? Will the quality of the relationships built up through continual iterations of QST ensure salience, credibility and legitimacy within policy processes? How will relationships built within our dialogue space interact with other online and offline interpersonal relationships, and how will these co-exist with wider relational spaces e.g. the work and civic spaces inhabited by European policy makers, Eurostat technicians, and academic participants? To what extent is the ability to carve out and inhabit our space constrained or enabled by these other relationships and spaces? Thus our participatory experiment (QST) must be understood in the context of formal and informal practices in these adjacent spaces, which may dilute, amplify or interrupt our reframing of the nexus.
Evaluating lifecourse trajectories in urban communities for young people, older people and people with disabilities: findings from the 3-Cities Project
Alexandra Revez (National University of Ireland, Galway, Ireland)
Urban communities are diverse and unique sites which influence greatly the lifecourse trajectories of local people. Within these community landscapes you have social and environmental elements which feed into experiences of growing up, growing old or living with a disability. Recounting and refining the significance of community in this context promotes inclusive policy development. This paper is based on the qualitative analysis of different contexts in the lifecourse trajectories of local communities. The research presented on the paper is based on key findings from the 3 Cities Project. The key aim of this three-year project is to explore and capture the diversity of lifecourse trajectories for young people, people with disabilities and older people. In collaboration with stakeholders and taking into account key urban processes of change the 3 Cities project has focused attention on a number of urban neighbourhoods in Ireland (Dublin, Limerick and Galway). This paper interrogates intra- and inter -cohort variations in the dynamics of relational geographies across these lifecourse trajectories. The paper also explores the interconnection of these trajectories with different community settings to provide a detailed analysis of ecologies of participation that takes into account lifecourse processes, interactions and adaptations.
Sustainable transport planning – finding nexus
Karin Book (Malmo University, Sweden)
Malin Henriksson (The Swedish National Road and Transport Research Institute, Sweden)
Lena Levin (The Swedish National Road and Transport Research Institute, Sweden)
Ase Svensson (The Swedish National Road and Transport Research Institute, Sweden)
This paper discusses challenges, contradictions and progress from a transdisciplinary case study taking place in the municipality of Uddevalla, Sweden. The aim is to develop a ´living lab´ to support planners in their work and extend stakeholder engagement and public participation in the development of a sustainable public transport strategy. The stakeholders represent different sectors within the public and private sector at local as well as regional level. The living lab therefore becomes an arena for negotiation between different geographical levels and interests.
As part of the main aim, we'll also identify and gain understanding of different meanings regarding attractive public transport, the needs of the users of public transport and urgent questions among the stakeholders and citizens. The theoretical perspective is drawn from studies that emphasise the need for new participatory practices, to address social sustainability in transport planning and to prevent social exclusion and isolation and studies highlighting relational spaces of participation. Three workshops will be held during spring 2016 in order to develop a nexus strategy based on key questions identified by the participants. The workshops will show how pluralism will be handled by the participants and whether the strategy will be based on consensus or conflicting interests.
Rethinking participation: Ruralities, urbanities and the sociomaterialities of transposition
René Brauer (University of Surrey, UK)
Mirek Dymitrow (University of Gothenburg, Sweden)
Departing from the idea that cultural mechanisms are capable of allowing for conceptual dichotomies to create injustice, participation comes across as a valuable asset to obtain a more just society. Participation brings forth first-hand stories of people's everyday lives that can assist us more than any other form of representation in understanding spatialities from within, including their changeability over time and role as exclusionary devices. Of these conceptual dichotomies 'rural-urban' is the oldest but also the most pervasive one. While local participation is considered a key tenet of so-called rural and urban development projects, the latter face difficulties relating to people's needs and ultimately fail to engage them. In efforts to increase participation, one (if not the main) aspect is often overlooked – namely the question of who has the right to define 'rurality/urbanity' in the first place. For instance, if policymakers or geographers look for 'everyday problems' in 'rural areas', they will find 'rural problems' (cf. Law, 2004). This, in turn, impacts the value of participation, because whenever there is a crevice between identity and problem formulation, it gives rise to exclusion from setting the agenda. Using a novel STS-approach, in this paper we outline some principal socio-material and cognitive drivers that not only construct, but also dictate 'ruralities/urbanities', which then are transposed onto the 'world out there' to be lived, performed and embodied. To avert such paradoxes of 'projected participation' our aim is to problematize this tacit top-down approach as counterproductive in the process of letting people define their problems.