Participation is a form of control, and 15 other things I learned in Trondheim

Norway Curling Pants

Three days with CenSES in Trondheim, Norway.
Here are some things I learned:

  1. Who’s got the gold? Norway’s got the gold. And it’s distributed. Every monetary transaction is thick with some variety of social glue. There’s an in-your-face distribution happening five times per day per person. And once I turned off my internal currency calculator it felt okay.
  2. All of which means everybody, every day, literally buys into Society. Maybe.
  3. But they don’t talk about the oil so much.
  4. 99% of Norway’s electricity comes from hydro. That must be nice.
  5. A smart grid switch-on has been legislated for 2017 (That’s going to be tough).
  6. But nobody knows why. End users don’t want it. Energy producers don’t get it. Grid operators don’t want to pay for it. Big plays on end-use energy in this energy-rich environment make no sense. There’s a study in there somewhere on how policy motivations form, are enacted, and then completely forgotten about.
  7. “We’re Norway, we don’t need renewables.” True quote. Only slightly paraphrased.
  8. Norwegian academics are beyond hospitable. Takk!!!
  9. The locals are *very* proud of Gro Brundtland and Norway’s international climate leadership. Okay, but guys, about that oil…
  10. Turns out Norway, and not Dame Street Dublin, is the home of Spar. The “Spar roll” however is definitely an evolutionary Irish innovation.
  11. There’s a tonne of interesting research to be done criss-crossing multiple levels of governance, innovation and a (sub?)politics that is increasingly distributed. Some of this is going on at CenSES.
  12. Rohracher’s work on civil society orgs gets this. So does Raven, Smith and Kern’s [pdf] work on the protective spaces of innovation niches. Though lots of work still to be done on empowerment.
  13. I’m sceptical of Sørensen’s reiteration of Jasanoff’s (2011) call for policy makers/advisors/actors to replace ‘truth’ with ‘relevance’ when going about their evidence-based policy making business. Not sceptical of its merit, but its execution.
  14. Bruno Latour can also write brief and to the point papers. His response and de Vries’ initial challenge ($) on sub politics worth checking out. So nice to have other people set reading once in a while.
  15. A week of -10 and sunny beats +5 and wet.
  16. Participation is a form of control.

And one question for further research maybe

  • Can civil society organisations provide oppositional forms from and integrated distributed centre, do they need to remain at, or partly at the edges, or none of the above? More to follow…