Expanding participatory theory. Towards a radical diversification and locatisation of participation

The concept of participation has been used in a variety of fields, varying from the arts, health, urban planning, development and media to democracy. Within the fields that study these social practices, participation has gained many different meanings. At the same time, an analysis of this diversity of approaches allow to extrapolate shared characteristics of participation, and more particularly to emphasise the key role of power, and participation’s political-ideological nature. At the same time, this interdisciplinary analysis is grounded in a broad definition of the political (based on Chantal Mouffe’s work), which legitimates a conceptual shift from ‘political participation’ to participation in a wide variety of societal fields (including politics), driven by the political as ontological category. The shift will also be used to emphasise the locatedness of participatory practices in specific societal fields, in combination with the potentiality of these practices to transgress the societal fields in which they are embedded and to affect other fields. In earlier work (within Media Studies), I’ve captured this dynamical processes by referring to the difference between participation in the media and participation through the media. This theoretical shift will be illustrated by a brief analysis of the first interactive film Kinoautomat.