Tag Archives: democracy

Research Associate on ‘Just Public Algorithms’

We have a 6 month 0.5FTE research associate post available in the 3S research group at the University of East Anglia, UK, on the Just Public Algorithms project. The successful candidate will work with me and Professor Jason Chilvers of the 3S research group, as well as the participation NGO Involve UK. The project is funded as part of the EPSRC Not Equal network+.


The project will produce the most comprehensive picture yet of citizen responses to the ways in which algorithms are being adopted in and around UK public services, from welfare payments to policing, healthcare and immigration. More broadly it will suggest a roadmap for the responsible and transparent governance of these technologies and approaches. The primary duties of the research associate will be to carry out the literature review and mapping work around the use of algorithms in public services in the UK and the ways in which citizens are engaging with these developments, with support and supervision from me and Jason Chilvers. This work will be primarily desk-based using conventional systematic review methodologies but may also involve some scoping interviews or the use of digital methods. The research associate will also feed into a stakeholder workshop concerning the responsible future governance of these approaches and help to write the briefing note and academic paper produced at the end of the project.

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Essential criteria include: Postgraduate research qualifications in Science and Technology Studies or related fields, or equivalent experience; Ability to communicate complex information clearly, both orally and in writing; Ability to organise own time and work, to meet deadlines, and manage competing priorities.

The post is available to start on 1 October 2019 on a part time (0.5 FTE) basis for a fixed term period of 6 months.

See here for the particulars of the post and to apply. The closing date for applications is 3rd September.

Please do get in touch with me if you would like to discuss this position.


Book review of ‘Democratic Experiments’ by Brice Laurent

Democratic ExperimentsI have a book review out in the Journal of Responsible Innovation of Brice Laurent’s ‘Democratic Experiments: problematizing nanotechnology and democracy in Europe and the United States‘, Cambridge, MA, MIT Press, 2017, pp. 261.

It’s a fantastic book which rewards close reading, with lots of useful insights into the governance of emerging technologies and the object of Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI). Laurent proposes the very useful concept of ‘critical constitutionalism’, which I summarised the review as “the need to conduct analysis in the midst of processes of problematization of technologies and democracy – rather than waiting until everything is settled and stabilised”. This is a disposition I will definitely be taking forward in future work.

The full review is available here, and I can also provide a pre-print version to anyone who is interested in reading it.

Decolonising geographies of democracy and participation: RGS conference panel


I’m starting to get excited for the Royal Geographical Society’s annual conference in two weeks’ time. In particular I’m looking forward to some full and frank discussions about the challenges of decolonising the discipline of Geography, and to some really exciting looking keynotes – including Pat Noxolo and Juanita Sundberg. I’m also looking forward to taking part in a panel session with some of my academic heroes to remember the late great Professor Sally Eden and to discuss her recently published book Environmental Publics.

The main event of the conference for me is the panel session I’m organising on ‘Decolonising geographies of democracy and participation’ which is an area I am currently getting really interested in. I wrote some more about the rationale and scope for the panel in a previous post, but now the programme is up I can also share with you the excellent line-up of papers and authors I have been able to assemble. You can read the full panel rationale and abstracts in the programme here.

  1. Decolonising the collective: towards new visions of representation – Doerthe Rosenow (Oxford Brookes University, UK)
  2. The challenges of the ‘post-liberal’ turn in the Plurinational State of Bolivia – Anna Laing (University of Sussex, UK)
  3. Towards decentred and emergent governance for ‘community resilience’: The view from post-war Sri Lanka – Martin Mulligan (RMIT University, Australia)
  4. The right to the knowledge: urban movements and decolonisation of the spatial planning process – Tomasz Sowada (Adam Mickiewicz University, Poland)
  5. Migrant women and participatory social research: decolonising geographies of participation – Tracey Reynolds (University of Greenwich, UK)(presenter); Umut Erel (Open University, UK); Eren Kaptani (Open University, UK); Maggie O’Neill (University of York, UK)

If this is a topic you are interested in and/or something which intersects with your work, please do come along to the panel on Wednesday 30th August, 14.40-15.20 in the Sir Alexander Fleming Building, Lecture Theatre G34. I’m keen to get some broader conversations going on this, so there will be opportunities for you to make your voice heard on this important topic.

Beyond experiments in climate governance workshop

There are some very interesting reflections here from Paula Kivimaa, Bruno Turnheim and Frans Berkhout on the ‘Beyond experiments: understanding how climate governance innovations become embedded’ INOGOV workshop which I attended at Sussex University at the end of April.

INOGOV_logo_orange_bars_boxed_white-e1433317708607The workshop was particularly enjoyable because of the excellent group of people that Paula, Bruno and Frans had assembled to contribute to the book, and it was great to get to know several people whose work has been quite influential for me, as well as being introduced to the work of others who I hadn’t been aware of. I discussed my contribution to the workshop here, which I’m now going to refine and improve based on our discussions at the workshop, and the feedback I received from the other participants. Final chapter drafts are due at the end of August, which will hopefully lead to a reasonably quick turnaround at the publisher’s end. I think there is going to be much of interest in this collection, including some contributions with the potential to greatly impact thinking on climate governance and transitions.

Book Review: Publics and Their Health Systems: Rethinking Participation by Ellen Stewart

Publics and their health systemsMy review of Ellen Stewart’s excellent new book ‘Publics and their health systems: rethinking participation’ was published on the LSE Review of Books on 11th May 2016. In the review I reflect on the broader move towards systemic accounts of public participation in the participation literature. I’m looking forward to some productive conversations on this topic with Ellen and others in future as we are trying to do a similar thing in our UK Energy Research Centre project on public participation in and around UK energy transitions.

The review can be accessed via the link below.

Book Review: Publics and Their Health Systems: Rethinking Participation by Ellen Stewart

Beyond experiments: conceptualising democratic innovations

I have had an abstract accepted to contribute to a COST action workshop in Brighton in April, on the topic ‘Beyond experiments: Understanding how climate governance innovations become embedded‘. The aim of the workshop is to develop an edited book, and I’m using my chapter to develop my thinking on ‘democratic innovations’, a concept around which I hope to focus my research in future. What particularly attracted me to the workshop was the emphasis on bringing together insights from science and technology studies and governance studies which is something I have been thinking about a lot. I explain how I am hoping to do this in the abstract below, and how I think a focus on democratic innovations, rather than just public participation processes for example, can lead to new insights about climate governance.


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Uneven geographies of openness and information

Here’s a post I wrote on the Geo open access: Geography and Environment blog a few weeks ago responding to a paper in the journal by Mark Graham, Stefano De Sabbata and Matthew A. Zook on information geographies.

I’m becoming increasingly interested in debates about open data and open access as a useful extension of and comparison with my work on public participation procedures, and this paper offered some insights relevant to this debate which I wanted to tease out.

Geo: Geography and Environment

By Helen Pallett (University of East Anglia, UK)

Open access to information and data appears to be a cause which has found its moment, with governments, businesses, NGOs and academics queuing up to ratify open access commitments and extoll its virtues. It has variously been heralded as a means of rejuvenating democracy, reforming corrupt institutions, holding big business and business-dealings to account, improving the quality of scientific data available, removing academics from their ivory towers, and changing relationships between publishers, academic journals and authors.

These arguments for the opening up of data and information now seem uncontroversial and have few serious detractors. However, an emerging body of work demonstrates that to take the geographies of information seriously is to add a significant but often-overlooked angle on debates in academia and policy on open access and open data. This is what Mark Graham, Stefano De Sabbata and Matthew A. Zook have done…

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