Challenging Power in the Public Debate : The Conversation as a Commons

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Challenging Power in the Public Debate : The Conversation as a Commons

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Title Challenging Power in the Public Debate : The Conversation as a Commons
Author(s) Noväng, Lars ; Johansson, Per ; Björk, Fredrik
Date 2015
English abstract
In the discussion on urban governance and the commons, surprisingly little attention is targeted towards the underlying structures of political debate – in media as well as in physical space – where the agendas and speaking orders are predetermined by established power structures. Invitations to panels and seminars, moderation are guided by already evident positions in the discourse and landscape of power, based on institutionalized perceived “expertise” – academic or otherwise – or a position of power, by being a “decision maker”. Sometimes a random representative of “the public” or from “vulnerable groups” may be invited to provide “diversity”. But the structure is already given and institutionalized, and thus the outcome will rarely be something else than a pure reproduction of the map of institutions and political power (McCann 2001). There are, however, alternative interventions that aim to challenge these structures, providing what might be understood as a commons of ideas and politics, focusing on unsettling formal structures of political debate. One such example is the Conversatory (“konversatoriet”,, an open source art-based research intervention (McNiff 2008) where all particpants are required to leave behind their formal attributes of power and engage in a conversation where ideas and human experiences are at the center. In this presentation, we will discuss and analyze the implications of alternative modes of political discussion and debate, such as the Conversatory, and the possibilities that lies here for a more commons-based exchange of ideas and possibly decision-making.
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Publisher Indiana university
Pages 1-9
Language eng (iso)
Subject(s) Commons
public debate
Humanities/Social Sciences
Research Subject Categories::HUMANITIES and RELIGION
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