Design of Digital Democracies – Staging and Performing Citizenship, Gender and Information Technology

Document type: Conference Presentations
Peer reviewed: No
Author(s): Pirjo Elovaara, Christina Mörtberg
Title: Design of Digital Democracies – Staging and Performing Citizenship, Gender and Information Technology
Conference name: Kick-off-Meeting “Gender Studies and TechnoMedSciences"
Year: 2006
City: Berlin
Organization: Blekinge Institute of Technology
Department: School of Engineering - Dept. Mathematics and Science (Sektionen för teknik – avd. för matematik och naturvetenskap)
School of Engineering S- 371 79 Karlskrona
+46 455 38 50 00
Authors e-mail:,
Language: English
Abstract: The aim of the project is to explore how the ideas of democracy, citizenship, agency and gender can be connected to the notion of design of information technology. One of the reasons to focus on democracy and citizenship is to be found in the growing interest in e-government that is currently launched, politically and technologically, not only in Europe, but world wide. IT policies on a national as well as EU level express wishes to create an information society for all. How are then relations between democracy/citizenship and IT articulated in different practices? How are relations performed by the citizens as users and how is the staging of democracy/citizenship being inscribed in the design by systems designers?

The intention of firs empirical part of the study is to investigate a number of spaces/places and practices for (re)negotiating democracy, citizenship, gender and IT. By spaces/places and practices we mean heterogeneous sociomaterial relations between human and non-human actors. Neither citizenship, gender and IT thus understood as fixed or closed categories, but are constantly reinforced, reshaped and (re)produced. Our initial research questions are:
- How are dreams and visions of the good democratic lives articulated in a variety of spaces/places and practices by heterogeneous actors? Meanings connected to democracy, citizenship, gender and IT – how are they performed
- What are the tensions and contradictions to be founded?
- What are the dominating discourses and what are the concurring ones?

The second part of the study focuses on the issue of design. Possible research questions to be addressed are: Are the multiple voices kept alive in the design process? How could they be kept alive in the whole design process from an idea to a product - artefact or running the IT-system? Do some methodologies and methods support heterogeneity better than others? Why and how do some perspectives win over others in design processes? How do asymmetrical power relations (gender, ethnicity, age, sexuality etc) intervene in designers definitions of actors involved in systems design? How do designers inscribe their visions of the worlds in the artefacts and systems?

We are interested to see if the study can find methodological inspiration and support from a combination of various systems design approaches (participatory design, experimental design), feminist technoscience and Actor-Network-Theory.
Subject: Technoscience Studies\General
Keywords: IT, design, agency, democracy, citizenship, gender