WP7: Data visualization and deliberative democracy (Nærland, Engebretsen)
What are the relations between data visualization, visual-numeric literacy and democratic practices and resources?
WP7 will summarize the findings from WPs 1-6 and assess the democratic implications of these in light of what has come to be known as deliberative theories of democracy (Habermas 1992). In the existing body of theory, writing and oratory are favored as modes of public communication, as these are seen to facilitate public argumentation as well as the dissemination and uptake of information – all of which constitute core practices in a functioning democracy. Yet, as recently argued by several scholars (Nærland 2014), this favoritism takes place at the expense of visual, sonic or narrative modes of public communication. The expansion of DV in society thus necessitates both the assessment of DV as a democratic practice in itself, and, the reassessment of democratic theory in light of the developments that DV represents.
On the one hand, DV involves a new and emerging mode of communication that may or may not enable (media) institutions to fulfill their ideal function as facilitators of public discourse and disseminators of information and arguments. On the other, DV necessitates a new kind of literacy among its audiences that may or may not enable them to act as informed and critical citizens. Consequently, WP7 discusses the findings from the overall project in light of the following two interrelated aspects of DV:
DV and communicative rationality: To which extent does the visual and multimodal language of DV enable the diffusion of arguments and statements about the world open to argument and falsification, or conversely; does DV involve concealment or obscuration? Here, findings from the previous WPs will be discussed in light of the core concept of ‘communicative rationality’ (Habermas 1981).
DV and civic culture: to which extent can DV be seen to provide its audiences with resources that enable them to act as citizens? Here, the findings from the project will be discussed in light of the multidimensional conceptual framework of ‘Civic culture’ (Dahlgren 2000) which captures the different ways in which engagement with the media may function as resource for democratic participation and inclusion.
Financial source: The Norwegian Research Council
Project management: The University of Agder, Martin Engebretsen