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Breaking Bad with the Participatory Turn? Accelerating Time and Intensifying Value in Participatory Experiments

  • Delvenne, Pierre
  • Macq, Hadrien
Publication Date
Jan 01, 2020
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Science and technology studies (STS) scholars have long advocated a ‘participatory turn’ in science, technology and innovation. Decisively informed by STS, participatory experiments across the world have sought to overcome the limitations of technocratic approaches and traditional innovation processes, to allow for new forms of democratic engagement. Yet the interplay between modes of participatory experiments and their wider political- economic ordering is significantly evolving. Alongside traditional deliberative experiments of the so-called ‘participatory turn,’ participation is now also organized in various collective experiments during which technologies are tested, e.g. in ‘living-labs’ or ‘hackathons.’ Currently, participatory experiments are shaped by a double trend of accelerating time and intensifying value; they are now often organized as intense events seeking to extract as much value as possible from participants. This trend indicates a broader shift in the way participatory experiments are imagined, designed and implemented, away from participation in decision-making to participation in innovation-making, as well as a shift from civic values to productivist values with the pervasive expectation that publics should increasingly act as innovators and entrepreneurs. The relative abandonment of democratization warrants STS co-productionist analyses that question the values and objectives of participatory experiments in addition to their formats, issues, and publics.

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