Call for papers: Conceptualizations of the “participant” revisitied: Challenges of a biological citizenship model for democratic participation

This is a call for papers for the Mid-term Conference of the International Sociological Association (ISA) Research Committee 10 (RC10) on Participation, Organizational Democracy & Self-Management, Lisbon, Portugal, from 12th to 15th July 2017.

Session 6.6 “Conceptualizations of the “participant” revisited:

Challenges of a biological citizenship model for democratic participation” in stream 6 “Participation and Democracy revisited”


Organized by

Nina Amelung, Centre for Social Studies (CES), Universidade Coimbra, Portugal; Helena Machado, Centre for Social Studies (CES), Universidade Coimbra, Portugal;


Recent debate of participation in the contexts of science and technology has discussed the changing relationships among publics, policy makers, and scientific expertise. Thereby alternative understandings of democratic participation of individuals in science and politics have emerged. In particular in some science and technology areas such as genetic research in medical science or forensic sciences where biological markers shape the involvement of participants this has caused fundamental changes of framing individuals as participants and constructing their rights and duties.

Individuals then are not any more understood as passive donors of biological material and data, but instead as individuals with active citizenship rights and as potential co-decision makers. As examples we can think of the implications for the construction of participation in the context of medical biobanks or forensic DNA databanks. Thus, participation of individuals can range from volunteering by providing biometric data; to getting directly involved in decision making about genetic research as addressees of public accountability of the state and science; to getting actively involved in the knowledge production or contesting knowledge claims of genetic research. An alternative construction of the participant comes often with different demands for democratic, transparent and accountable governance of research and technology practices. Among them are representative and inclusive decision-making processes and taking the relevance of creating public trust and legitimization into account.

This session aims at assembling discourses on alternative notions of participation which investigate the implications of a biological citizenship model. We welcome contributions dealing with the following

questions: What are the repercussions of a biological citizenship notion for democratic participation? What are the benefits and limits of such an expanded notion of participation building on a biological citizenship? What are empowering and disempowering effects of such a construction of participation for the role of the “participant”?



In order to submit a communication proposal please mention in the proposal the stream and the session number. Also please include your name, affiliation and email.

For your proposal to be considered please submit the title and an abstract (max. 300 words) both to:

– the mail(s) of the session organizer(s)

–  and the Conference email at:



12 March – Deadline to submit abstract proposals

15 April – Notification of acceptance of the abstracts to the authors

31 May – Deadline for accepted authors to register for the conference Further information about the conference and location can be found