Since the notion of infrastructures was introduced in social theory (Marx & Engels 2012), and subsequently elaborated by leading anthropologists (Godelier 1979; Harris 1969), it has involved a paradox. On the one hand, human labour, namely the way that people engage with each other and the material world – together with the related technologies and techniques – constituted a crucial component of infrastructures. On the other hand, infrastructures were considered a primarily economic-technical material entity rather than a socio-cultural element. This has set a theoretical paradigm that extends to today, affecting the way social sciences – and related disciplines – approach infrastructures (Edwards 2003:186; Dourish & Bell 2007:417; Graham 2010; Dalakoglou 2009).
Thus infrastructures are often portrayed as an objective economic-material entity that embodies a process of order and control that organizes the social fabric (Humphrey 2006; Edwards 2003). This ideal was related to modern forms of State governance that promoted the mass-scale centralised production of hard and soft infrastructures aimed at economic growth, but also to social control and political consent. So infrastructural development during the second half of the 20th century in Europe was based on this ‘modern infrastructure ideal' (Graham & Marvin 2001; Dalakoglou 2009).
We have a growing literature that addresses the relationship between the decrease of infrastructural capacity of the market-state model and citizenship or political subjectivity (Wafer 2012; Schnitzler 2008, 2016; Dalakoglou 2017). Most of these studies examine the connection between state, power and infrastructure (Kooy and Bakker 2008; Mann 2008; McFarlane 2008, Larkin 2013). Infrastructures’ significance in the shaping of this relationship is reflected in terms such as ‘infrastructural citizenship’ (Shelton 2015:2).
Hence, while the post-2008 crisis, along with its associated IG, has material consequences, it stands primarily as a socio-political event. However, as mentioned above in the context of the innovative social practices centred around IG, we witness the emergence of technologies that are related to grassroots smart cities, the Internet of Things, ideals of commons, practices and e-infrastructures of shared, social and solidarity economies that merge with novel domains of social participation into an infrastructural world that occupies realms of the IG. Ultimately, these open up new potentialities for a very different (infrastructural) future. The daily challenge made against the established systems leads to fundamental transformations in the divisions between soft and hard infrastructures and socio-technological tactics, calling into question traditional divisions between digital/immaterial networks and physical/material ones. Thus there is in fact a rearticulation of socio-cultural conditions in negotiation with digital and other technological innovations, based on common human and non-human frameworks of participation (Marres 2012; Marres and Lezaun 2011; Latour 2005; Dalakoglou 2017; Dalakoglou & Kallianos 2014). Therefore, employing the notion of infrastructural participation in reference to the relationship between democracy and infrastructure, Infra-Demos project will explain theoretically and empirically the forms and functions of these newly emerging techno-social “hybrid forums and agoras” that emerge reconfiguring democracy in Europe (Latour 2005:23; Callon et al. 2001; Dalakoglou 2016a).
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