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Contribution to the workshop with Christopher M. Kelty

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Probably no one in the world has dealt with the topic of participation as intensively in the recent past as Christopher Kelty. He teaches at the University of California in Los Angeles and visits the Leibniz Science Campus - Postdigital Participation. Its deputy speaker Felicitas Macgilchrist moderates through a day that prepares countless thoughts, approaches and theorems for the campus members. It is a day of reflection, of pausing in and for the ScienceCampus. Doctoral students and members of the steering committee discuss at a high level and are inspired.

Who actually is the one who participates, who is there, who is committed to volunteering, to the community for sustainability, common good or social peace. And why is the phenomenon of participation so difficult to grasp?

Finding answers to these questions is not easy, and Christopher Kelty admits in conversation that he, too, can hardly separate the two in his book, which lives from numerous case studies and thus not only provides theory, but also operates close to practical challenges. It is difficult to draw sharp lines between participation and democracy between participation and activism or actionism. In his opinion, it is particularly difficult when it comes to the question of the inner participation of involvement. Who can be won into and for participation processes ? And in the end, is it only experts who can be inspired? Finally, one must always consider the volume in participation processes. Minorities are often louder than majorities. Kelty's special focus, however, is on the question of value. For him, participation is not good or bad per se. For him, it is important to also see the "dark side". He needs a differentiated debate.

That leaves us to summarise: Participation is a multi-layered as well as valuable construct that needs the discourse of the disciplines. It lives from the negotiation of the concept and its practical and social manifestations. All this is water on the mills of the interdisciplinary Leibniz Science Campus under the leadership of the Leibniz Institute for Educational Media. Its director Eckhardt Fuchs, together with Kelty, builds bridges here and shows what potential lies in the consistently interdisciplinary science in the Leibniz Association. The findings from the visit: the campus operates at an internationally compatible level and, with its numerous, coordinated projects, fosters a scientific understanding and a justification of participatory processes in a world in which the digital has become a matter of course.

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