Remaking Participation in Science and Democracy

Science, Technology, and Human Values 45 (3):347-380 (2020)
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Abstract

Over the past few decades, significant advances have been made in public engagement with, and the democratization of, science and technology. Despite notable successes, such developments have often struggled to enhance public trust, avert crises of expertise and democracy, and build more socially responsive and responsible science and innovation. A central reason for this is that mainstream approaches to public engagement harbor what we call “residual realist” assumptions about participation and publics. Recent coproductionist accounts in science and technology studies offer an alternative way of seeing participation as coproduced, relational, diverse, and emergent but have been somewhat reluctant to articulate what this means in practice. In this paper, we make this move by setting out a new framework of interrelating paths and associated criteria for remaking public participation with science and democracy in more experimental, reflexive, anticipatory, and responsible ways. This framework comprises four paths to: forge reflexive participatory practices that attend to their framings, emergence, uncertainties, and effects; ecologize participation through attending to the interrelations between diverse public engagements in wider systems; catalyze practices of anticipatory reflection to bring about responsible democratic innovations; and reconstitute participation as constitutive of systems of technoscience and democracy.

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