Ramia Mazé presents at the 4S-EASST conference in Copenhagen

16 October, 2012 - 13:41

Ramia Mazé, Senior Researcher at the Interactive Institute, will present her paper entitled "Design Practices and the Micropolitics of Sustainability" in the session "Design, STS and cosmopolitics: From intervention to emergence in participation and sustainability" at the 4S-EASST conference that is held in Copenhagen October 17-20. The 4S-EASST conference Annual Meeting of the Society for Social Studies of Science (4S) is held jointly with the European Association for the Study of Science and Technology (EASST).

Session: Design, STS and cosmopolitics: From intervention to emergence in participation and sustainabilityThe shift toward public engagement with science and technology (including environmental issues) has primarily been mediated by social scientific techniques. Design, however, also has many traditions that engage with publics or users that, along with STS approaches, have placed emphasis on intervening in order to ‘empower’ the voice and identity of particular, often tacit, versions of publics or users. This panel will interrogate some of the implicit parameters through which publics or users are enacted, and it will also explore the sociotechnical and cosmopolitical dynamics of specific forms of design practice (e.g. critical, speculative, participatory) through which novel or unexpected versions of publics and users, and the issues with which they are associated, may emerge. Bringing together a series of case studies within the broad area of sustainability, design practice and technology, this closed panel will begin to examine the role that both design and STS can play in enriching each discipline’s methodological palate and enlarging each others’ cosmopolitical resources. In doing so, the panel will re-addresses the processuality, ontological multiplicity, and performativity of their empirical and interventionist engagements. As such, the panel will examine the following substantive areas: the comparison of Design and STS forms of engagement with issues of technology and sustainability; variations in the making and understanding the cosmopolitical; perspectives on the complex co- emergence of user/publics and designer/STS practitioners.Chairs:Alex Wilkie, Goldsmiths, University of LondonMike Michael, Goldsmiths, University of London, University of SydneyTobie Kerridge, Goldsmiths, University of LondonWilliam Gaver, Goldsmiths, University of LondonLiliana Ovalle, Goldsmiths, University of LondonCarl DiSalvo, Georgia Institute of TechnologyJennifer Gabrys, Goldsmiths, University of LondonAbstract: Design Practices and the Micropolitics of Sustainability by Ramia Mazé, Interactive InstituteHaving won the battle of ‘big public ideas’, as many argue, sustainability has a (cosmopolitical) potential to frame alignments across hemispheres, nation-states, socio-economic and interest groups. In this, sustainability is clearly not only an environmental – but a social and political – matter, which is insufficiently addressed in technocratic approaches prevalent within policy and technology development, urban planning, architecture and design. Postcolonial perspectives on STS, for example, elucidate how sustainability involves struggles – among ontological and epistemological framings, priorities in policy and design implementations, and those accessing and controlling resources within and across locations. Socio-technical approaches, thus, involve questions about how such struggles take place as social practices, considering social locations, material cultures and mediation processes. Practices of policy- and design- making, for example, involve a micropolitics of recognition and representation, just as practices of communicating and consuming involve forms of agency enacted in relation to policies and designs. Such issues transform how we might understand and practice design. Indeed, from a field conventionally formulated in relation to mass production, market consumption and technical innovation, a growing number of contemporary design practices engage with public policy, social mobilization and political activism. My own work includes practice-based research and case studies in the area of sustainable development, in which I investigate the role of design interventions within domestic practices, participatory situations and organizational settings. In line with the ‘social’ turn within the sciences, I argue for ‘critical practices of design’, which are formulated and performed in relation to a micropolitical understanding of socio-material practices.