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Message posted on 11/07/2018

Workshop CfP: Ignorance and non-knowledge: what consequences for democratic governance, politics and policy? 13-14 November, 2018, Vienna, Austria

Dear colleagues,

With apologies for crossposting, please find below a Call for Papers for a
workshop at the University of Vienna (Faculty of Social Sciences) taking place
13-14 November 2018.

Best regards,

Katharina T. Paul,
on behalf of Ingrid Metzler, Erik Aarden, Helene Sorgner

Workshop: Ignorance and non-knowledge: what consequences for democratic
governance, politics and policy?

When: November 13-14, 2018
Where: University of Vienna, Austria

Confirmed keynote speakers:
Linsey McGoey (University of Essex),
Matthias Gross (University of Jena, Helmholtz Centre for Environmental
Research – UFZ),
Stefan Böschen (RWTH Aachen).

Call for papers
Ignorance and non-knowledge have become the subject of a growing body of
research in the social sciences and humanities, giving rise to a new
“sociology of ignorance.” In this line of thought, ignorance is not merely
a consequence of the limits of our knowledge practices, but a knowledge
practice in its own right. Concepts such as McGoey’s ‘strategic
unknowns’ also challenge the assumption that power thrives only on
information: In this perspective, ignorance and non-knowledge are often
actively produced, cultivated, and exploited as a resource and a strategy.

While engagements with ignorance and non-knowledge have become more salient
over the past decade, there are different conceptual understandings of these
phenomena across disciplines. To begin with, sociologists of ignorance have
highlighted the importance of nonknowledge practices as a resource for
industry actors. Moreover, political sociologists, such as Matthias Gross,
have recently made more explicit links between Beck’s concept of ‘risk
society’, ignorance studies, and contemporary governance of risks and
security. From a slightly different perspective, political scientists approach
uncertainty – sometimes termed ‘contingency’ – as an inherent
condition or even mechanism of governance, rather than an instrumentally
negotiated outcome of governance.

This workshop takes these different understandings and concepts as points of
departure and seeks to spark an interdisciplinary dialogue. In doing so, we
seek to enhance our understanding of non-knowledge practices and their
consequences for democratic governance, politics and policy. We expect issues
of ignorance and non-knowledge to be particularly pertinent in areas such as
environmental policy and climate change, the regulation of financial markets,
public health, migration, research governance, and the governance challenges
arising in response to increasing digitalization and automation, to name but a
few. Specific questions of interest are:

• What relevance do different understandings of ignorance, contingency and
uncertainty have for the study of governance?
• What practices of governing unknowable or unknown objects, and futures,
can be
discerned empirically?
• What strategies of action or inaction do non-knowledge and/or uncertainty
on the part of governance actors, and where and how can we identify such
• How do non-knowledge practices challenge or reinforce governance
• What taxonomies of knowledge practices emerge in particular case studies
and policy
areas, and what do these practices mean for our understandings of governance
contemporary democracies?
• How are unknowns and uncertainties currently addressed in different policy
and research practices, and with what consequences?

We invite scholars and early-career researchers to explore these questions
conceptually,through empirical case studies in different fieldwork settings,
or both. This may includeperspectives from a range of disciplines, such as
political science, anthropology, sociology,geography, history and STS.

We envisage a small workshop, with sufficient room for comments and
There will be a public panel discussion with Matthias Gross, Stefan Böschen
and Ulrike Felt (tbc) and practitioners on November 13. Day 2 will feature a
keynote by Linsey McGoey.

Abstract submission
Abstracts should be submitted as a Word document to , no later than 31 August 2018 and should
contain approximately 250 words. In addition, pleaseinclude your title, your
position and institution, and explain in 3-5 sentences what yourspecific
interest is in the topic to focus our attention to particular issues or
themes. We willnotify you if your abstract is successful by mid-September. If
accepted, we will ask you tosubmit an extended abstract (i.e. 1000-2000 words)
in advance of the workshop (mid-October), to be shared with other
participants. The sharing of these short papers will helpinform a productive

The workshop is organised by Katharina T. Paul, Ingrid Metzler, Erik
Aarden(University ofVienna), and Helene Sorgner (AAU Klagenfurt). The Key
Research Area ‘Knowledge societies in turbulent times
’ (Faculty of Social Sciences) of the University of
Vienna has generouslyagreed to co-fund the workshop, and additional funding
will come from the FWF AustrianScience Fund (Grant

We anticipate a publication composed of selected papers from the workshop in
an interdisciplinary social science journal.

Attendance is free of cost to invited participants. Lunch and refreshments
will be provided on both days, and there will be a networking and social event
on the evening of the 13th November. Regrettably, we are unable to fund any
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