Solidarity and plurality: Dimensions of 'the public' in scientific engagement
Warren Pearce (University of Sheffield)
Stevienna de Saille (University of Sheffield)
Judith Tsouvalis (The University of Nottingham)
Engaging publics
C. Humanisticum AB 3.18
Thursday 18 September, 9:30-11:15, 11:30-13:15, 15:00-16:45 (UTC+0)

Short abstract:

1) Who sets the rules of engagement? 2) Who is defined as 'unruly' and outside 'the public'? 3) What are the role(s) of publics perceived by different actors in engagement processes and how are they transformed by their context? 4) Are there differences between new and old forms of engagement?

Long abstract:

Through its interrogation of the production of techno-scientific artefacts and knowledge, the field of STS has been key to the collective project of 'making science public'. In recent years, this work has been linked to experiments in public participation, anticipatory governance, responsible innovation, and calls for more inclusive modes of engagement. However, the institutional norms of both science and public policy have often proven difficult to dislodge, complicating the process of incorporating values and ethics into scientific decision-making, and the use of scientific evidence in the political sphere. How and by whom 'the public' is defined -- as a generality or as specific collectivities -- is central to understanding the confluence of growing inequality and the call for inclusive practices of governance for directing technoscience towards 'the public good'.

We warmly invite a range of empirical and theoretical studies exploring these and other questions relating to science, policy and public engagements. These could include, but are not limited to the following:

1) Who sets the rules of engagement?

2) Who is defined as 'unruly' and therefore outside 'the public'?

3) What are the role(s) of publics, as perceived by different actors in the engagement process and how are they transformed and/or (dis)empowered by their situated context?

4) Are there substantive differences between 'new' forms of inclusive engagement versus older models, and how are asymmetries in power, knowledge and expertise understood?

The papers will be presented in the order shown and grouped 4-3-3 between sessions