20160523

Communication at IDP2016. Activismo desde el consumo cooperativo de productos agroalimentarios: ¿Economía alternativa o tecnopolítica?

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Since 1995, cooperativism in general, and agro-food consumption groups in particular have grown in number very quickly in Barcelona, after decades of total sleep of the movement. The dictatorship of Francisco Franco killed most of the existing initiatives dating from the XIXth century, but the dictator died in 1975 and democracy was restored in 1977: why did it take so much time for cooperatives to flourish back? Is it a coincidence that their rebirth was at the same time that the Internet went public and digital mobile technologies began to be massively adopted? In other words, does cooperativism has to do with the digital revolution? Even more, does cooperativism has an activist component that is closely related with technopolitics?

This is the starting point that Ricard Espelt, Enrique Rodríguez and I took in Activismo desde el consumo cooperativo de productos agroalimentarios: ¿Economía alternativa o tecnopolítica?, a communication that has been accepted at IDP2016 – Internet, Law and Politics. Building a European digital space, organized by the School, Open University of Catalonia, and taking place in July 7-8 2016 in Barcelona (Spain).

A pre-print of the paper can be downloaded below. Note that some minor issues can differ from the final version to be published in the proceedings of the conference.

Abstract

El análisis de la cronología de los grupos de consumo de la ciudad de Barcelona muestra tres etapas: la primera, a lo largo de la década de 1990, con la aparición de los primeros grupos; la segunda, con el cambio de siglo, con un nuevo auge de cooperativas; y, finalmente, una tercera oleada, coincidiendo temporalmente con el movimiento 15M, caracterizado ―entre otros elementos― por su constitución en asambleas.

A pesar de que todas las organizaciones autogestionadas en el marco del consumo agroalimentario no tienen formato jurídico cooperativista (la mayoría son asociaciones e incluso identificamos algunas sin marco legal), comparten un modelo de toma de decisiones asambleario. Las asambleas son el espacio donde se gestiona el eje central de la actividad que da sentido a la constitución del grupo (el abastecimiento de productos agroalimentarios cumpliendo con los criterios de la Economía Social y Solidaria) pero, también, el compromiso social y político de la organización.

En este artículo se analiza la relación existente entre los grupos de consumo agroalimentario y el movimiento 15M en la constitución de nuevas organizaciones o en el refuerzo de las ya existentes en la ciudad. Por un lado, evaluaremos el papel del modelo de toma de decisiones en asamblea ―liderazgo horizontal y distribuido―, como parte fundamental de su funcionamiento autogestionado y desinstitucionalizado, con especial atención al papel de las Tecnologías de la Información y la Comunicación (TIC) en la organización de la misma. Por otro lado, estudiaremos la relación entre el compromiso social y político que los distintos grupos manifiestan y su vinculación con los movimientos de activismo social y político.

Esta investigación se ha realizado sobre la totalidad (60) de los grupos de consumo agroalimentario de Barcelona, con presencia en todos los distritos de la ciudad.

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Full paper:
Espelt, R., Peña-López, I. & Rodríguez, E. (forthcoming). “Activismo desde el consumo cooperativo de productos agroalimentarios: ¿Economía alternativa o tecnopolítica?”. In Balcells, J. et al. (Coords.), Internet, Law and Politics. Building a European digital space. Proceedings of the 12th International Conference on Internet, Law & Politics. Universitat Oberta de Catalunya, Barcelona, 7-8 July, 2016. Barcelona: UOC-Huygens Editorial.

20160522

Communication at IDP2016. Structural Conditions for Citizen Deliberation: A Conceptual Scheme for the Assessment of “New” Parties

Cover of Structural Conditions for Citizen Deliberation (IDP2016)

Maria Haberer and I will be presenting our latest communication, Structural Conditions for Citizen Deliberation: A Conceptual Scheme for the Assessment of “New” Parties, also at IDP2016 – Internet, Law and Politics. Building a European digital space, organized by the School, Open University of Catalonia, and taking place in July 7-8 2016 in Barcelona (Spain).

Its content will be quite similar to what we presented at CeDEM2016 in Krems, Austria, though this version has been improved with the comments from the attendants of this conference and, of course, the reviewers of IDP2016.

A pre-print of the paper can be downloaded below. Note that some minor issues can differ from the final version to be published in the proceedings of the conference.

Abstract

The purpose of this paper is to elaborate a conceptual scheme for assessing deliberative spaces within political parties that propose the direct input of citizens in policy-making as a possible solution for the crisis that representative democracy is facing. Theory on deliberative democracy has long been concerned with the question on how to assess the structural conditions for deliberation and the advantages deliberation has for the democratic process. Building on existing dimensions, we used a qualitative research design with data from observation, interviews and document analysis to investigate a neighbourhood group of “Barcelona en Comú” (BComú). This recently formed political party experiments with the incorporation of horizontal decision-making practices facilitated through ICTs to establish modes and bodies for citizen deliberation. We discovered relevant themes that allowed us to develop a conceptual scheme when critically assessing deliberative structural conditions. This scheme can serve as a map and a monitoring device for evaluating the actual practice of parties that claim to engage in citizen deliberation. We conclude by indicating the performance of BComú and by asking if the successful implementation of deliberative spaces can lead to a new party model and new trends in political practice including recommendations for further research.

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Full paper:
Haberer, M. & Peña-López, I. (forthcoming). “Structural Conditions for Citizen Deliberation: A Conceptual Scheme for the Assessment of “New” Parties”. In Balcells et al. (coords.) Internet, Law and Politics. Building a European digital space. Proceedings of the 12th International Conference on Internet, Law & Politics. Universitat Oberta de Catalunya, Barcelona, 7-8 July, 2016. Barcelona: UOC-Huygens Editorial.

20160521

Communication at CeDEM2016. Structural Conditions for Citizen Deliberation. A Conceptual Scheme for the Assessment of “New” Parties

Cover of Structural Conditions for Citizen Deliberation (CeDEM2016)

Maria Haberer and I have presented a communication, Structural Conditions for Citizen Deliberation: A Conceptual Scheme for the Assessment of “New” Parties, at CeDEM2016 – International Conference for E-Democracy and Open Government 2016, organized by the Danube University Krems and that took place in May 18-20 2016 in Krems, Austria.

The research is a first approach to the phenomenon of the “network party” (or net-party) — though we are cautious about the naming and prefer so far a more neutral “new party” — and analyzes the case of Barcelona en Comú, the party now in office in the municipality of Barcelona and whose origin is deeply rooted in the 15M Spanish Indignados movement and other recent social movements with a strong technopolitical profile. The approach takes deliberation as the core around which all the organization spins while transitioning from a social movement to a (traditional?) political party.

Below can be found and downloaded the slides and full text of the communication.

Abstract

The purpose of this paper is to elaborate a conceptual scheme for assessing deliberative spaces within political parties that propose the direct input of citizens in policy-making as a possible solution for the crisis that representative democracy is facing. Building on existing dimensions, we used a qualitative research design with data from observation, interviews and document analysis to investigate a neighbourhood group of “Barcelona en Comú”. This recently formed political party experiments with the incorporation of horizontal decision-making practices facilitated through ICTs to establish modes and bodies for citizen deliberation. We discovered relevant themes that allowed us to develop a conceptual scheme when assessing deliberative structural conditions. This scheme can serve as a map and a monitoring device for evaluating the actual practice of parties that claim to engage in citizen deliberation. We conclude by indicating the performance of Barcelona en Comú and by asking if the successful implementation of deliberative spaces can lead to a new party model and new trends in political practice.

Slides

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Full paper:
Haberer, M. & Peña-López, I. (2016). “Structural Conditions for Citizen Deliberation. A Conceptual Scheme for the Assessment of “New” Parties”. In Parycek, P. & Edelmann, N. (Eds.), CeDEM16. Proceedings of the International Conference for E-Democracy and Open Government 2016. 18-20 May 2016, Danube University Krems, Austria. Krems: Edition Donau-Universität Krems.

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Slides:
Haberer, M. & Peña-López, I. (2016). “Structural Conditions for Citizen Deliberation. A Conceptual Scheme for the Assessment of “New” Parties”. In Parycek, P. & Edelmann, N. (Eds.), CeDEM16. Proceedings of the International Conference for E-Democracy and Open Government 2016. 18-20 May 2016, Danube University Krems, Austria. Krems: Edition Donau-Universität Krems.

20160518

The challenge of being (professionally) connected. Proceedings of the VII EAFT Terminology Summit 2014: Social Media and Terminology work

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The European Association for Terminology has just published the Proceedings of the VII EAFT Terminology Summit 2014: Social Media and Terminology work in which I opened with a keynote speech: The challenge of being (professionally) connected.

The topic dealt with the fact that being up-to-date with digital technologies (ICTs in general, social media in particular) is not a luxury but a must for people working in knowledge intensive environments or jobs. And, beyond the uptake of digital technologies, there is also the need to build networks around one-self — not necessarily digital ones, but surely enhanced and often enabled by digital technologies.

Please find below the slides and (subsequent) full text of the conference.

Abstract

Throughout the history of humankind, information has been trapped in a physical medium. Cuneiform tablets in Mesopotamia, papyrus of ancient Egypt, modern books, newspapers. Even the most intangible information, the one locked inside the brains of people, usually implied having to coincide in time and space with the device that contained what we wanted to know. That’s why, for centuries, we have structured our information management around silos – archives, libraries, collections, gatherings of experts – and around ways to structure this information – catalogues, taxonomies, ontologies. The information lives in and out of the well, there’s the void. With the digitization of information, humankind achieves two milestones: firstly, to separate the content of the container; secondly, that the costs of the entire cycle of information management collapse and virtually anyone can audit, classify, store, create, and disseminate information. The dynamics of information are subverted. Information does not anymore live in a well: it is a river. And a wide and fast-flowing one. Are we still going to fetch water with a bucket and pulley, or should we be looking for new tools?

Slides

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Text of keynote:
Peña-López, I. (2016). “The challenge of being (professionally) connected”. In European Association for Terminology (Ed.), Proceedings of the VII EAFT Terminology Summit 2014: Social Media and Terminology work, 11-28. Barcelona 27-28 November 2014. Barcelona: EAFT.

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Slides (Prezi):
Peña-López, I. (2014). The challenge of being (professionally) connected. Keynote at the EAFT Terminology Summit, 27 November 2014. Barcelona: EAFT.

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Slides (Prezi as PDF):
Peña-López, I. (2014). The challenge of being (professionally) connected. Keynote at the EAFT Terminology Summit, 27 November 2014. Barcelona: EAFT.

20150819

Communication. Mapping agro-food consumption groups in the city of Barcelona

Cover of Espelt, R., Peña-López, I., Losantos, P., Rodríguez, E., Martín, T. & Pons, F. (2015). “Mapping agro-food consumption groups in the city of Barcelona”

My colleague Ricard Espelt is these days at the XXVI European Society for Rural Sociology Congress, in Aberdeen, Scotland. The motto of this year’s edition of the congress is Places of possibility? Rural societies in a neoliberal world and this is just what Ricard is presenting on behalf of a small team he put up to analyse and map agro-food consumption groups in the city of Barcelona.

The communication he just presented, Mapping agro-food consumption groups in the city of Barcelona, is but a part of a major research project that Ricard is doing and that I have the luck to be a part of. Following can be found the abstract, slides and downloads of our communication, signed together by Ricard Espelt, Pere Losantos, Enrique Rodríguez, Toni Martín, Francesc Pons and myself. Mind that it is only a short paper and, thus, only a small part of the information produced is available. Comments (and/or requests) will definitely be welcome.

Abstract

“Consumption groups” (or “consumption cooperatives”) is one of the types of short circuits of food consumption. They are organized to create an alternative to the dominant model, the agro-food big chain. Breaking the barriers between consumers and producers, this model of organization strengthens the possibility of stimulating social and economic local development.

In this article, we show how consumption groups take advantage of the traditional cooperative move-ment rooted in the XIXth century, and Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) in the context of Barcelona.

We analyse how the Social and Solidary Economy (SSE) measurement indicators are achieved by agro-food consumption groups, the nature of the networks made up by consumers and producers and the rele-vance of ICTs to maintain the business activity. Using geolocalized data and social network analysis we highlight the significance of local economical connec-tions among the actors involved.

Even though consumption groups stimulate local business and correlate with SSE indicators, they are not represented in the design of public policies. This article wants to draw a different point of view in the promotion of alternative food futures as emerging social and economic actors, and the public policies to promote them.

Slides

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Short paper:
Espelt, R., Peña-López, I., Losantos, P., Rodríguez, E., Martín, T. & Pons, F. (2015). “Mapping agro-food consumption groups in the city of Barcelona”. In Places of possibility? Rural societies in a neoliberal world. Proceedings of the XXVI ESRS Congress, Aberdeen, Scotland, 2015. Aberdeen: The James Hutton Institute

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Slides:
Espelt, R., Peña-López, I., Losantos, P., Rodríguez, E., Martín, T. & Pons, F. (2015). “Mapping agro-food consumption groups in the city of Barcelona”. In Places of possibility? Rural societies in a neoliberal world. Proceedings of the XXVI ESRS Congress, Aberdeen, Scotland, 2015. Aberdeen: The James Hutton Institute

20150531

Book chapter. The double edge of technology: an opportunity for inclusion and a risk of exclusion

Portada del Informe FAROS 2015

FAROS is the childhood and youth health observatory of the Sant Joan de Déu Hospital, one of the most renowned hospitals specialized in children and youngsters in Spain.

Every year they publish a book — the FAROS report — which deals about a topic of especial relevance for families and carers, helping them to understand it and to address it.

The 2015 edition of the FAROS report its entitled Las nuevas tecnologías en niños y adolescentes. Guía para educar saludablemente en una sociedad digital [New technologies in children and youngsters. Guide for a healthy education in a digital society]. As it can be inferred from the title, the report deals about minors accessing technology, the use of devices, online and videogaming, social networking sites, privacy and security, socialization, etc.

I was kindly invited to write one of the final chapters about the pros and cons of digital life. Unlike the preceding co-authors, my approach is not about one specific point of view or technology, but more panoramic. It tries to bring to the debate that the use of technology is a matter of socialization. And, as such, it does carry embedded the very same advantages and risks of interacting with others. Without fully digital inclusion, one will not be in risk of e-exclusion, but in risk of sheer social exclusion. On the other hand, an inappropriate digital inclusion will be very much like inappropriate socialization, putting us in risk of being abused, be an abuser (or a criminal), lack education opportunities and so on.

My chapter is called El doble filo de la tecnología: una oportunidad de inclusión y un peligro de exclusión [The double edge of technology: an opportunity for inclusion and a risk of exclusion] and can be downloaded as follows.

Lots of gratitude to Olga Herrero for counting me in and making it possible.

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Download the chapter(PDF):
Peña-López, I. (2015). “El doble filo de la tecnología: una oportunidad de inclusión y un peligro de exclusión”. In Roca, G. (Coord.), Las nuevas tecnologías en niños y adolescentes. Guía para educar saludablemente en una sociedad digital, 123-133. Barcelona: Hospital Sant Joan de Déu.

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Download the full report (PDF):
Roca, G. (Coord.) (2015) Las nuevas tecnologías en niños y adolescentes. Guía para educar saludablemente en una sociedad digital. Barcelona: Hospital Sant Joan de Déu.