Donna Haraway’s question ‘What is decolonial feminist reproductive freedom in a dangerously troubled multispecies world?’ (Haraway, 2016: 6) is a key provocation for this book, as is her insistence on bringing debates about human numbers into feminist engagement with ecological crisis, an argument developed in Making Kin Not Population (Clarke and Haraway, 2018). Our book picks up this thread, arguing that making kin and making babies are intrinsically connected and should be thought together rather than oppositionally. This chapter describes how we devised and brought together our various methods, including in-depth qualitative interviews with parents of newborn babies and with medical and professionals in medicine, architecture, air quality monitoring, public health and bushfire management. We discuss our decision to incorporate our own stories, to be read in conjunction with those we collected. One hundred images of bushfire smoke and fire were also gathered from participants along with maps they drew of their care networks, part of our multilayered methodological approach. Learning from actor-network theory, we also decided to ‘follow’ significant actors like smoke, air purifiers and flows of air quality data to understand how the smoke and fires impacted the lives of people who were pregnant or parenting a newborn baby and to think about the materialities of the Pyrocene in Canberra and SE NSW.
This book explores the relationship between science and democracy from an STS perspective. Through the focus on the interplay between science and politics and the role of participation when it comes to highly expert-dependent issues, the book contributes important insights into the relation between science and democracy. The book also introduces STS as a field of research and presents an overview of classical and current STS scholarship and debates with a special focus on science and democracy. The main argument is that science and democracy belong together - they are co-produced - and are separate. The book takes the reader on a journey that starts by emphasizing the differences between science and democracy and then introduces their similarities and interdependencies. The journey goes through three parts: separation, overlap, and co-production. The book concludes by summarizing specific contributions of STS research to the discussion of science and democracy, based on four themes: representation and participation; separation and hybridization; situated practices and democratic theory; and STS and normativity.
This chapter explores the critical interventions of communal growing projects in the city, particularly around how they articulate patterns of collective ownership and the capacity of people to engage in autonomous action. In seeing the projects as places of commoning – rather than as a static commons – this situates the DIY culture of growing as the co-production of a collective escape, reflected in the direct intervention of projects in storying and making the space of the city. In so doing, they stake a right to the city – and a right to change the city. Within this emerge some key tensions around how the aesthetics of the spaces can be exclusionary, raising critical questions around who shapes the city. This sets up the critical and progressive core of growing as a space for autonomous action and collectively imagined ownership, however imperfectly it emerges.
Both science and democracy are based on representation. It has been suggested in this book that this means a dividing line is created between those who represent and those who are represented. Concerning science, and expert knowledge more generally, fears are sometimes raised in relation to expert rule. However, this is often an unproblematic, and even a desirable, situation. The desire to hand over certain tasks to experts is especially strong when non-experts have no interest in knowing the details, or would not even be able to learn them, but still need to get things done. This applies to everything from healthcare to plumbing, architecture, and energy production. But sometimes engagement and resistance can be mobilized among citizens because the representation – the delegation to experts – is unsatisfactory. Experts can be wrong or can claim authority on issues that go far beyond their expertise and yet have great influence over the course of events. Citizens can sometimes contribute to better representation since they have other, often more local, experiences than the experts. But above all, citizens, relevant groups, and the general public have an important role to play in judging expertise as credible and relevant, or not. Participation and its role for democracy is much more complex than a simple dividing line between unquestioned delegation to experts and direct participation of laypeople. It involves parliamentary debate and decision-making, practices of public policy making and administration, issue formation and mobilization in social movements, practices of investigative journalism and media reporting, and so on.
Between June 2018 and September 2019, Italy was ruled by a coalition government comprising the far-right League and the anti-establishment Five Star Movement. The government, which was widely referred to as the first populist executive in a major EU member state, alarmed Italian and European elites. In fact, the coalition built its rhetoric on questioning EU legislation, particularly that concerning immigration and, of interest here, fiscal constraints and austerity policies. The executive’s first programmatic document on economic policy, the budgetary plan for 2019, triggered two months of heated negotiations with the European Commission before being approved.
Although critical political economists have investigated how the ‘populist’ government furthered neoliberalism in Italy, an analysis of its organic ties with Italian capital is still missing. Our article addresses this gap by investigating, within a critical Global Political Economy perspective, the competing business interests behind the budgetary plan and how they shaped the formulation of the populist government’s economic policies. The analysis of the executive’s economic policies, together with its organic ties with capital, allows us to explain the rise of the populist government and describe its nature as well as its contradictions which explain its limited transformative potential and its inner fragility.
The findings highlight the relevance of a critical Global Political Economy perspective for investigating economic and fiscal policy in the era of authoritarian neoliberalism, in particular in assessing the EU structural constraints on economic and fiscal policy but also the agency of domestic capital shaping it.
In this chapter, I will address the way platforms have developed in the field of digital gaming and use this historical backdrop for interrogating critically the notion of platforms. The historical development of gaming platforms can help us to question what should indeed be attributed to the platform as a computational system and what should rather be explained by the platform owner’s financial status and position within the wider market context. Traditional game consoles are, in practice, proprietary innovation platforms, in Gawer’s (2011) and Cusumano’s (2010) sense, a set of development and publishing tools and a key contact point to the gaming audience made available to complementors on certain conditions. As developer and publisher, you must contract with the platform owner to get your game title on the console, and as a gamer, you must purchase the console to be able to play your games. In this way, the gaming consoles of the 1980s and 1990s effectively inserted themselves between game publishers and the gaming audience in the same manner as contemporary platforms are said to do, and their specific design and forms of governance indicate a certain market order, that is, a particular field of incumbent and challenger (see Chapter 3). Their power is that of the traditional book publisher owning the key to a particular version of the book format, which happens to be the market standard.
In the former chapters, I have analysed and discussed the ways in which the Steam platform has historically expanded the scope of economic transactions (Chapter 5), how this is enabled by the platform features (Chapter 6), and how different actors on the platform turn these affordances into ways of making business (Chapter 7). In this chapter, I will dive deeper into the way these economic transactions extend beyond the Steam platform on to the wider internet. My key point will be that the existence of extra-platform contexts of economic exchange not only serves to expand the number of economic transactions and grow the market, but potentially turns the Steam platform into a payment instrument and skins into a unit of transaction independent of the games from which they originate. Indeed, it can be interpreted as an attempt to create ‘money at the margins’ (Hütten and Thiemann, 2017) by transforming Steam and its extra-platform transactions into a ‘monetary network’ (Dodd, 1994). Firstly, I will characterize some of the extra-platform contexts of economic exchange and explain in what way they seem to be ‘powered by Steam’. As an extension of this, I will discuss Valve’s possible motives for enabling, or at least not policing, these economic practices. These motives can to some degree be tied to the business emphases addressed in Chapter 5, that is, expanding the scope of economic transactions by enabling microtransactions on third-party websites and allowing the secondary market of game items to expand beyond the platform.
If urban growing is political, why is it not always seen this way in the field? This chapter extends the political analysis of communal growing projects through an engagement with lay imaginaries of politics within growing and their diversity. It does so to offer a different perspective on communal growing’s politics, and to explain why politics as a frame doesn’t work in the field. It explores subjective experiences of politicization and some of the resonances of the idea of politics within the context of Glasgow, within Scotland and the UK at this political moment. This is to unpack some of the ambivalence of escape as a political terrain, and does so with an eye to how time and a preference for a common justice framing shape the interpretative understanding of communal growing projects, complicating narratives around the politics of such projects.
Escape is an enticing idea in contemporary cities across the world. Austerity, climate breakdown and spatial stigma have led to retreatist behaviours such as gated communities, enclave urbanism and white flight. By contrast, urban community growing projects are often considered by practitioners and commentators as communal havens in a stressful cityscape.
Drawing on ethnographic research in urban growing projects in Glasgow, this book explores the spatial politics and dynamics of community, asking who benefits from such projects and how they relate to the wider city. A timely consideration of localism and community empowerment, the book sheds light on key issues of urban land use, the right to the city and the value of social connection.
In South Africa, the right to education is guaranteed by Section 29 of the Bill of Rights in the Constitution. The government is therefore obliged to develop policies, pass laws and establish programmes that promote and fulfil the right to education. Contrary to this, it has been argued that children with disabilities benefit less from the human right to education, as reflected by the number of children with disabilities currently attending school. This article aims to examine the gap between the promises made on the advancement of the human right to education of children with disabilities and the pitfalls experienced in fulfilling those promises. A literature review method was used to assess the access to education, and findings identify that inequalities in opportunities continue to occur not only because the government has not managed the key drivers of poverty but also due to a persistent lack of activism to address these issues.