Appearing in a seminar room near you…

I’ve been remiss in posting news about travel, seminars etc – actually, I’ve been remiss about posting anything at all, and plead the usual feeble excuses. But the northern Spring is the season for conferences and workshops in Europe, and this year I’ll be concentrating on two engagements in the first half of the year, with possibly one other set in the second half.

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The first is the latest in an irregular series of engagements at design and architecture schools about my 2012 book Democracy and Public Space. I’m delighted this year to be visiting the School of Architecture and the Built Environment at the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) in Stockholm, holding a guest seminar with advanced research students and then a departmental lecture on the topic ‘Can democracy be designed?’  I’ll be taking aim at claims, following the resurgence of behavioural economics, that politics is just another ‘behaviour’ that is amenable to direction by cues in the built environment; but at the same time trying to clarify that when we do observe cueing effects it is often in response to meanings that accrete around symbols, meanings which are socially malleable. Disagreements about these points have real democratic consequences, as I discuss at length (polite way of saying ‘endlessly!’) in my book.

The second is the annual Joint Sessions of Workshops run by the European Consortium for Political Research, this year in Pisa. André Bächtiger, Jon Kuyper and I are co-directing a workshop that brings together deliberative democrats and comparativists to poke a bit more at the deliberative systems approach. Ideally we want to see whether there are mistakes that are well-known in the comparative democratic systems literatures but are blithely ignored in deliberative scholarship, and vice versa. These cross-disciplinary conversations are always challenging, but very rewarding when they come off. So we’re delighted to have such a great group of congenial colleagues joining us over the four days – looking forward to catching up with old friends and making new ones.

Might get a bit of cycling in the Tuscan hills in too 😉


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