Call for papers for a proposed panel in the Democratic Innovations section of the ECPR General Conference 4-7 September 2019, University of Wrocław
Online Platforms Between Commercialization and Democratic Innovation: The Role of Design
Panel chairs: Hans Asenbaum (University of Westminster), Alfred Moore (University of York)
Social media websites and smartphone apps support a vast array of participatory functions. These participatory means are increasingly employed by civic initiatives, social movements, individual citizens, and corporate actors for political engagement, which has great significance for democratic theory and practice. At the same time, however, the common interactive platforms have been designed and optimised for commercial rather than democratic purposes. This panel investigates how trends of online commercialization interact with trends of democratic innovation and what role the design of online platforms plays in this regard. In doing so it focuses on civic – rather than on governmental – uses of these technologies.
It asks three sets of questions:
- How are websites and smartphone apps, which are created for commercial purposes, used by civic actors for democratic engagement? How are commercial functions re-appropriated, re-interpreted, or used alternatively?
- How do the affordances of these technologies change the forms and possibilities of civic action?
- How do civic actors create their own participatory online platforms? Which innovative functions do their designs provide?