Title: Bridging the divide between science and society: the case of institutionalised technological reflexivity
Author(s): Pierre Delvenne
Affiliation: Université de Liège
Presented At: STiS 2008
Primary Topic Area: Science and the Public
The Parliamentary Technology Assessment (PTA) is an instrument particularly suitable to analyse the new shape of science and society’s interface under the pressure of reflexive modernisation. It represents a remarkable attempt to reform the institutional settings of innovation.
We suggests that, following the PTA paradigm we are focusing on, Technology Assessment can stand as an institutional practice giving more space to foster the public debate and bring closer together experts, policymakers and social actors. Indeed, such participatory offices (like it is the case in Denmark, Holland, Switzerland or Belgium) open new forums of discussion to lay people and give them the opportunity to handle a predominant role in assessing science and technology, along with the experts endorsing a “facilitator” role within an interactive process. This relates to what we identified as “technological reflexivity”. It re-empowers the pre-existing representative democracy paradigm by broadening the structure to deliberative mechanisms.
Accordingly, participatory practices in the framework of PTA definitely represent a valid indicator of the industrial society being re-embedded in an other modernity, where science is humble and its experts are away from their former ivory tower to be considered as “specialized citizens”. Here again, fortunately, science is still the motor of progress, but it needs to be watched closely within organised, formalised procedures with more structured ways of discussion in order to expand the political possibilities of action vis-à-vis growing dynamics of scientific and technological developments and, hopefully, try to reach a broader social consensus on the technological development we want for society.