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Power in high-stake deliberative settings: Analytical insights from linguistics

Simona Zimmermann, University of Stuttgart

Tue 28 November 2017

The Dryzek Room, Building 22, University of Canberra


What role does power have in real-world mini-publics with real-life consequences? This question has hardly been studied. Yet, experiences from high-stake settings of deliberation that have consequences for participants’ everyday lives - for example in respect to their reputation and relations in the local polity - are highly relevant for integrating deliberative mini-publics in everyday-political life. Based on this reflection, the presented research project seeks to understand the meaning and role of power in the relational network among participants in citizen assemblies of a local small-scale participatory budget institution in Berlin’s district Treptow-Köpenick (Germany). These assemblies discuss and decide over the distribution of a fixed budget among neighbourhood projects which is a competence rarely ceded to citizens by German authorities. For analysis, assemblies are videotaped and studied ethnomethodologically based on a relational approach. The presentation will focus on the contributions linguistics can make to the analysis of power relations in deliberative settings.

About the speaker

Simona Zimmermann is a PhD candidate in political sciences at the University of Stuttgart (Prof. André Bächtiger). She holds a Master degree in Empirical Social and Political Analysis of the University of Stuttgart and a Diploma and Master from the Institut d’Etudes Politiques (SciencesPo) Bordeaux. Her research interests include deliberative forms of citizen participation and politics in urban planning. She aims at working inter- and transdisciplinary in order to develop solutions for societal challenges.

In her PhD project Simona analyses relations of power in deliberative mini publics under a network perspective by qualitative methods of inquiry. Case study is a local participatory budget in Berlin Treptow-Köpenick (Germany). Before obtaining a scholarship from the national talent program (Friedrich-Ebert Foundation), Simona worked in an interdisciplinary research group on sustainable urban mobility (Institute of Urban Design, University of Stuttgart). Here, she occasionally teaches concepts and methods of the social sciences to students in urban planning and architecture.

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