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[liberationtech] CFP: ICA Pre-conference "The challenges and promises of participatory policy-making: Communication practices, design considerations and socio-technical processes.

Tanja Aitamurto tanja.aitamurto at
Mon Jan 9 09:38:26 PST 2017

Hi all,
We are organizing a pre-conference at ICA about participatory
policy-making. Please see the call below, and let us know if you have any


2017 International Communication Association Preconference

*The challenges and promises of participatory policy-making: Communication
practices, design considerations and socio-technical processes.*

Hosted by:
CalIT2, UC San Diego

Supported by:
CITRIS and the Banatao Institute, UC Berkeley
Department of Communication, University of Illinois at Chicago

Co-sponsored by:
ICA Communication and Technology Division
ICA Communication Law and Policy Division
Global Internet Governance Academic Network (GigaNet)

May 25, 2017 | San Diego, CA

Room 5302, Atkinson Hall, UC San Diego

*Extended abstracts due: January 18, 2017*
*Final manuscripts due: April 24, 2017**Submit at:

Tied to the ICA ’17 conference theme of interventions, this pre-conference
asks to unpack how the socio-technical design of online civic engagement in
policy-making may “alter and disrupt” democratic processes, practices, and
occurrences. As such it explicitly deals with “communication practices that
engage with a political event, social phenomena, industrial or
socio-cultural practice.”

The growth of online tools for civic engagement has ignited the imagination
of researchers and practitioners of democratic participation. The internet
harbored great promise for cheaper, broader and more inclusive public
engagement in politics through self organization, dissemination of
information, and transparency. It has also harbored a promise to disrupt
the ways government interacts with its citizens through open data,
provision of services or engagement of citizens in policy deliberation and
crowdsourcing. Interactive, informed, and meaningful civic engagement in
government decision-making processes has been viewed as the pinnacle of
participatory government efforts. In the US, on his second day in the
office, President Obama addressed senior staff and cabinet secretaries,
urging them to “find new ways of tapping the knowledge and experience of
ordinary Americans.” In Iceland, the government used crowdsourcing in
drafting a new constitution. Locally, municipalities experiment with
combining both online and offline methods to engage members of the public
in participatory budgeting exercises. In the area of internet governance,
remote participation has been an important component in efforts to develop
effective arrangements for multistakeholder deliberations and

There is a variety of activities that fit under the broad umbrella of civic
engagement or e-participation in policy-making. Those range from purely
consultative engagements such as virtual town halls, through policy
ideation and crowdsourcing, to binding decision making such as
participatory budgeting, rulemaking or the development of internet
standards. While significant focus has been placed (in both research and
practice) on technological solutions involved in effective online civic
engagement in participatory and direct democracy activities, less attention
has been paid to the systemic understanding of how these technological
solutions interact with the social, political, institutional, and
educational arrangements of such engagements and their potential to disrupt
and alter traditional democratic practices. This pre-conference focuses on
unpacking the black box of online civic engagement for planning and
policy-making activities from a systemic perspective.

We invite competitive submissions of empirical analysis, case studies, and
conceptual work that review the continuum of offline and online
participation arrangements through a socio-technical systems lens—an
interaction between human participants, institutional arrangements, and
affordances of online participatory tools. We envision this workshop as a
boundary searching—or boundary expanding—exercise that will tackle three
major aspects of research of online civic engagement: (a) conceptual and
theoretical work for describing and analyzing the socio-technical nature of
online participatory policy-making tools, (b) methodological approaches to
studying those phenomena with an emphasis on interdisciplinarity and system
design, and (c) cases and datasets that invite and enable systemic analysis
of both tools and social, political, institutional, and educational
arrangements as they traverse both online and offline environments. Our
goal is to engage with scholarship on digital divide, online cooperation,
informed participation, psychology, internet governance, and computer
mediated communication, in order to inform research on civic engagement
that goes beyond the analysis of solely technical aspects of platform
design and data mining.

Theoretical areas and empirical contexts may include but are not limited to:

   - Conceptual and empirical work on participatory and crowdsourced
   - Empirical case studies of the use of online ideation and participatory
   tools in rulemaking, participatory budgeting or internet governance
   - Studies of controversies, successes, and failures in technology-driven
   participatory civic engagement.
   - Conceptual and empirical explorations of socio-technical
   considerations in the design of participatory platforms.
   - Analysis of interactions between offline and online processes and
   practices of policy-making.
   - Unpacking of tensions between expert and citizen knowledge and
   authority in policy deliberation.
   - Discussions of contextual factors that influence online civic
   engagement in policy-making (e.g., digital divide, literacy, motivation,
   political efficacy).

*Submission details*
At this time we invite authors to submit extended abstracts (800-1000
words) that describe the main thesis, research goals, and to the extent
possible, the methodological background and findings of their paper. All
extended abstracts must be uploaded through EasyChair at by 18 January 2017, with all identifying
information removed. All contributions will be blindly peer-reviewed, and
acceptance notifications will be sent out before the end of February 2015.

Authors of the accepted abstracts will be asked to submit a full original
manuscript of approximately 4000 to 8000 words, which has not been
published elsewhere, by 1 May 2016.

*Pre-conference logistics*
The preconference will take place on Thursday, 25 May 2017 in Room 5302,
Atkinson Hall, UC San Diego. Presenters are expected to register for the
pre-conference, but registration is open to both presenters and
non-presenters. At the moment, the registration fees stand at 25 USD.


   - Extended abstracts due by January 18 (via EasyChair)
   - Notifications sent by Feb. 24
   - Full paper drafts due by May 1

*Organizing Committee*

   - Brandie Nonnecke, PhD, CITRIS and the Banatao Institute, UC Berkeley
   (Questions or concerns? Please email nonnecke at
   - Dmitry Epstein, PhD, University of Illinois at Chicago
   - Tanja Aitamurto, PhD, Stanford University

Dr. Tanja Aitamurto
Postdoctoral Scholar
Management Science & Engineering
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