This talk will attend to two democratic technologies in practice, the parliament as a building and the regulation of drug use.
One of the central promises of parliamentary democracy as a model of governance is that it can deal with any problem that concerns a political community. In a way, it is possible to think of parliament buildings as material manifestations of this promise. They can be thought of as complex political technologies that in Europe and North America gained a more-or-less standardised form by the end of the nineteenth century. The Hungarian parliament building is no exception. Drawing on ethnographic and historical research conducted in Budapest between 2008 and 2010, the first part of this presentation will provide a material-semiotic analysis of parliaments as problem-solving machines, the smooth operation of which relies upon predefined and preformatted problems. But where do problems come from? The second part of the presentation aims to address this question by shifting focus from parliaments as problem-solving machines to different modes of problematisation. Using the regulation of drug use in Hungary as a specific example, it will outline how a European statistics office, policy networks and civil activist groups collectively constitute the outsides of parliamentary democracy, engaging in politics on the level of problem-formation.
Dr. Endre Dányi is postdoctoral research fellow at the Department of Sociology at the Goethe University in Frankfurt am Main. Influenced by Science and Technology Studies (STS), he wrote his PhD thesis at the Department of Sociology at Lancaster University about the Hungarian Parliament as a complex political technology. In his postdoctoral research he traces the limits of this technology by examining how statistics, policy worlds and civil organisations constitute the outsides of parliamentary politics.
This talk is hosted by the Technologies in Practice Research Group at IT University of Copenhagen.