Media and Participation. Between Demand and Entitlement

By using „medial participation“ as a key concept, the research group proceeds on the supposition that participation is to be located in media-cultural exchange processes. This reconceptualization is founded on a processual understanding of media, which allows the description of the relations between demand and entitlement in the structures of subjects, technological objects, practices and communities. The interdisciplinary project combines media-historical, -ethnological, -aesthetic, -sociological, -philosophical as well as artistic and literary case studies. This is in order to fill the unmet need of grasping the relations between media and participation taking into consideration the full scope of its sociopolitical and cultural implications and to enrich the currently mainly application oriented approaches with a deliberation of participation from a media theoretic perspective.

The studies of the research group are focused on historically and culturally different configurations of (tele-)technological participating, in which the conditions for in- or exclusion can change and where the specific challenges for participants and non-(or not yet)-participants are posed. These configurations are regarded as socio-technical power structures, in which human and non-human actors are generated reciprocally. The research group therefore focusses its analyses on the reciprocal relation of the central parameters ‘media configuration’ and ‘community building’ considering ‘media participation’ as undetermined and unfinished. It assumes that the calling to partake in a community is always connected to the interpellation of subjects, which is fed by the high attractiveness level of participation offers and at the same time includes demands towards the interpellated subject.

The research questions emerging from this can be sorted into three modalities, which are referred to in the sub-projects with different emphases and which are located in the interlacing of discourse analytical and praxeological methods: under the term ‘co-existence’ community building or obstructing operations of “Sharing” (Nancy) are of interest. Political imaginations and utopias of participations are focused on regarding their ‘promises’. The studies in relation to the modality of ‘dissent’ concentrate on disruptions in participation processes, which can be located in the media configurations themselves.

The gain from the cooperation between the sub-projects to form a media theoretic approach the term participation and the flipsides of media participation lies in answering urgent, current and socially relevant questions. This creates a differentiated media-cultural basis for future scientific analyses and political facilitation of participatory cultures.

The following sub-projects (working titles) are to be realized within the research group:

SP 1    Technoecologies of Participation: New Perspectives from Media Philosophy and Anthropology
(Prof. Dr. Erich Hörl, Leuphana University Lüneburg)

SP 2    The Right to Have a Say: The Cochlear Implant and the Impositions of Hearing
(Prof. Dr. Beate Ochsner, University of Konstanz)

SP 3    Smartphone-Communities: Participation as Promise and Imposition
(Prof. Dr. Isabell Otto, University of Konstanz)

SP 4    Tourism 2.0 – Network-Based Forms of Participation and Digital Detox
(Prof. Dr. Urs Stäheli, University of Hamburg)

SP 5    Micro-practices: Forms of Resistance and Engagement
(Prof. Dr. Elke Bippus, Zurich University of the Arts, Institut for Theory)



Funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG).