José van Dijck

José van Dijck is a distinguished university professor at the University of Utrecht (The Netherlands) and the president of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Van Dijck’s academic discipline is media studies and her field of interests ‘digital society.’ She received her PhD from the University of California, San Diego, (USA) in 1992. Her work covers a wide range of topics in media theory, media and communication technologies, social media, and digital culture. She is the author of six books, three co-edited volumes and approximately one hundred journal articles and book chapters. Van Dijck’s book The Culture of Connectivity. A Critical History of Social Media (Oxford UP, 2013) was distributed worldwide and was recently translated into Spanish. She is currently working on a book with Thomas Poell and Martijn de Waal titled The Platform Society. Public values in a connective world; the Dutch version was published in November 2016 and the English book is due in August 2018 with Oxford University Press.

Find more information about José van Dijck here.

Public values in a global platform society

Online digital platforms, which are overwhelmingly American-based and operated, have penetrated every sector of American and Western-European societies, disrupting markets and labor relations, circumventing institutions, and transforming social and civic practices. Platforms steer users’ behavior and social traffic that is increasingly data-driven and algorithmically organized. They are gradually infiltrating in, and clashing with, the institutional processes through which European democratic societies are organized. Platforms are neither neutral nor value-free constructs; the norms and values inscribed in their architectures may clash with the societal structures in which they are gradually embedded. So the emerging ‘platform society’ involves an intense struggle between competing ideological systems and contesting societal actors—market, government and civil society—raising important questions like: Who is or should be responsible and accountable for anchoring public values in a platform society?

Public values include of course privacy, accuracy, safety, and security, but they also pertain to broader societal effects, such as fairness, accessibility, democratic control, and accountability. Public values and the common good are the very stakes in the struggle over the platformization of societies around the globe. This lecture concentrates on the position of European (private and public) interests vis-à-vis the interests of an American online ecosystem, driven by a handful of high-tech corporations (Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft) that have become global data mining companies. While fights over regulation play out at various local and national levels, they cannot be seen apart from the power clashes between global high-tech companies and (supra-)national governments. At the heart of the online media’s industry’s surge is the battle over information control: who owns the data generated by online social activities? Particularly in the European context, governments can be proactive in negotiating public values on behalf of citizens and consumers. 

Lisanne Gibson

Lisanne Gibson is based at the School of Museum Studies at the University of Leicester in the UK. She has worked in the field of cultural policy studies for 25 years and is interested in cultural participation and stratification, cultural values, cultural development, as well as nineteenth and early twentieth century histories of cultural policy. She is the author of 2 monographs, an edited book, has guest edited 5 special journal issues, and published numerous articles on these subjects. She is also a member of the editorial committee of the International Journal of Cultural Policy. Lisanne is currently working on the 6 year Arts and Humanities Research Council funded project Understanding Everyday Participation- Articulating Cultural Value (2012-2018).

Museums and Participation- Who Goes.. (and who doesn’t?)

Visitor figures, visitor studies and sociological studies show that the profile of the audience for museums is overwhelmingly predicted by an individual’s level of income and education. Museum visitors are white and middle class. This is so even when you take account of gender, ethnicity, age and wealth. Furthermore, visitors to museums are part of a minority of the population who engage with State funded cultural activities on any regular basis. Recent work on this in the UK has shown that this minority is just 8.7% of the population (Taylor 2016). Given that the aim of leading edge museum practice is to effect social change serious acknowledgement of these limitations and a rethinking of how museums offer service to the majority must inform museum practice now and into the future. This presentation will reflect on some of these stark facts and using excerpts from interviews discuss some of the emerging findings from the ‘Understanding Everyday Participation’ project and the implications for the museum sector and indeed the cultural sector more broadly.

Shannon Jackson

Shannon Jackson is the Associate Vice Chancellor for the Arts and Design and Hadidi Professor in the Arts and Humanities at the University of California, Berkeley. Her research focuses on two domains: collaboration across visual, performing, and media art forms and the role of the arts in social institutions and social change. Her books include The Builders Association: Performance and Media in Contemporary TheaterSocial Works: Performing Art and Supporting Publics, and Public Servants: Art and the Crisis of the Commons, co-edited with Johanna Burton and Dominic Willsdon.

Find more information about Shannon Jeckson here


Civic Re-Enactment and Public Re-Assembly

Re-Enactment has become a ubiquitous 21st century process, one that dynamizes populist ritual and as well as artworld experimentation in participatory aesthetics.  Arguably, however, participants have very different understandings of what re-enactment is and who it might serve.  Art institutions also seem to deploy the practice in service of a range of goals—whether to recall history, to advance a conceptual art project, or to build community.  After surveying a range of possibilities, this lecture considers what happens when re-enactment is lodged inside civic processes.  What happens when civic processes—in all of their mundanity, bureaucracy, regression, and progression—are re-enacted? And what is the relation amongst aesthetic re-enactments and the other technological and policy domains explored at Cultures of Participation? Inspired by UC-Berkeley’s research platform on Public (Re) Assembly — and using work of Aaron Landsman and Paul Ramirez Jonas as touchstones — we will ask whether the concept of the “civic” is mourned or resuscitated in the moment of re-enactment.  What new things can we learn about re-enactment and participation when the “civic sphere” is the object? What new things can we learn about our own participation in the civic sphere when re-enactment is our method of investigation? 

Conference organizers

  • Birgit Eriksson, Associate Professor and director of Take Part, Aarhus University, Denmark,
  • Bjarki Valtysson, Associate Professor, University of Copenhagen, Denmark
  • Carsten Stage, Associate Professor, Aarhus University, Denmark
  • Mette Houlberg Rung, art educator, PhD, National Gallery of Denmark
  • Nina Gram, researcher at A Suitcase of Methods, PhD, The Royal Danish Theatre
  • Leila Jancovich, Lecturer in cultural policy and participation, University of Leeds, UK