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Politics at a distance: Infrastructuring knowledge flows for democratic innovation

Voß, Jan-Peter; Schritt, Jannik; Sayman, Volkan

FG Politik - und Governancesoziologie

We study efforts at promoting deliberative mini-publics as a model of democracy. Our focus is on practices supporting the circulation of know-how for doing mini-publics. In this paper we center on the building of infrastructures for knowledge exchange in and around a network known as Democracy R&D. This is a network of mini-publics practitioners from around the world with the declared goal of adding momentum to democratic innovation by enhancing translocal connections, community building, and knowledge. We look at how the network is organized, how online communication platforms are installed, and how observatory devices draw dispersed practices together into a shared frame of mutual learning and collective action. How do such practices configure the ways in which knowledge can flow across sites? How do they constitute an instrument space, a translocal assemblage of knowing and doing democracy by means of deliberative mini-publics? Using concepts like scopic media and centers of calculation, we discuss these practices for how they enable and constrain the circulation of know-how, configure processes of mutual learning, shape the translocal innovation process, and thus, at a distance, also prefigure local ways of knowing and doing politics.