Participation in the post-political context - comparison of St.-Petersburg and Berlin

People spread across a street scene in St. Petersburg, Russia
© Getty Images/Lisa-Blue


Wednesday, 3 July 2024, 3:00 - 4:00 PM (CEST)

Language: English

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Since its formulation in the 1960s, participation was considered an emancipatory practice closely connected to democracy (Kaufman 1960, Pateman 1970). At the same time, practices of participation have been constantly criticized for being technocratic, prioritizing managerial logics over democratic values, ignoring power relations and de-politicizing conflicts (Cooke, Kothary 2001, Rahnema 2010). Oleg Pachenkov sees these distortions as not exceptions but rather as corresponding directly to the particular socio-political order in which participation is practiced. Discussions of participation link to debates about “the end of the political (proper)” and the “post-political condition” (Ranciere 1999, Žižek 1999, Mouffe 2005, Wilson, Swyngedouw 2014).

Based on examples of participatory practices in urban development and design in Russia (St. Petersburg) and Germany (Berlin), he demonstrates that the post-political way of practicing participation should not be mistakenly associated with the authoritarian political regimes like Putin’s Russia, and vice versa. The essential difference lies elsewhere.

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