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Democratic Theory and Citizen Participation: democracy models in the evaluation of public participation in science and technology

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Biegelbauer, Peter; Hansen, Janus

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Abstract We argue that some of the controversies over the democratic merits of (participatory) technology assessment can be traced to conflicting assumptions about what constitutes a legitimate democratic procedure. We compare how two influential normative models of democracy – ‘representative’ and ‘direct’ – value public engagement processes according to different criteria. Criteria drawn from this analysis are used to compare a series of case studies on xenotransplantation policy-making. We show that the democratic merits of participatory technology assessments probably owe as much to the institutional context as to the precise evaluative criteria or procedural designs. This calls for a closer interaction between science and technology studies research on public engagement and comparative politics scholarship.
Keywords citizens' participation; direct democracy; representative democracy; conception of democracy; technology; science; governance; international comparison; participation; technical development; technological progress; political participation; technology assessment
Classification Political Process, Elections, Political Sociology, Political Culture; Technology Assessment
Free Keywords Demokratietherorie; Participation; Participatory Technology Assessment
Document language English
Publication Year 2011
Page/Pages p. 589-598
Journal Science and Public Policy, 38 (2011) 8
DOI 10.3152/030234211X13092649606404
Status Published Version; peer reviewed
Licence Creative Commons - Attribution