'The Public Spectre': A Critical Concept of Public Engagement with Technology – Københavns Universitet

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29. marts 2017

'The Public Spectre': A Critical Concept of Public Engagement with Technology

Professor emeritus Margareta Bertilsson contributed together with her colleagues Ana Delgado and Kim Sune Jepsen with the article 'The Public Spectre': A Critical Concept of Public Engagement with Technology' to the journal 'Technoscience and Citizenship: Ethics and Governance in the Digital Society'

The paper is concerned with how forms of publics come into being in situations of technological innovation and change. The paper attends to sudden social formations which arise as responses to what is perceived of as threatening socio-technical inventions into the routine of everyday social life. The paper revisit the Dewey-Lippmann debate, and looks at spontaneous citizens’ reactions towards emerging technologies such as Google Street View as well as we discuss some institutionally organized events of public engagement with science. As Margareta Bertilsson and her colleagues explore the formation of publics inside and outside various institutional contexts, they suggest a concept of mobilizing unexpected agencies that we call the public spectre. Crowds emerge spontaneously, and assume the figure of a 'public spectre' that resides in the unforeseen. When repeated as collective events, crowds stabilize and assume the figure of publics. The notion of the public as a spectre draws attention to the plurality of forms in terms of which publics emerge and take form.

Margareta Bertilsson, 'The Public Spectre': A Critical Concept of Public Engagement with Technology in Technoscience and Citizenship: Ethics and Governance in the Digital Society, vol. 17