Depoliticization and the Public Interest

ESPhil lead: Dr. Sjoerd van Tuinen

Researcher: David van Putten

Grant supplier:Research Excellence Initiative (REI) grant involving four EUR Schools (budget: € 682.000)

Europe is undergoing a process of depoliticization and that, in the wake of this, it is increasingly unclear what the meaning of ‘public interest’ is and what the democratic potency is of what is traditionally called ‘the public sphere’. How can public interest be represented and articulated in the face of technocratic governance, populist politics or corporate power protected by supranational regulation? Among other things, depoliticization entails exactly the blotting out of fundamental democratic questions of justice, equality, representation and precarity by the technical details of technological solutions and of regulatory frameworks, by risk calculations or by political debates that have increasingly taken on a technocratic and supposedly post-ideological character. By means of three strategic cases, EIPK’s REI-funded project seeks to untangle the technological, regulatory and affective dimensions of depoliticization, and the potentials for alternative forms of repoliticization. They are: (1) Public aspects of algorithmic environments; (2) The politics of austerity in Europe; (3) TTIP: regulatory depoliticization and new participatory rights. This is an interdisciplinary research project, hosted by the Erasmus Institute for Public Knowledge (EIPK).

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