Public engagement and RRI - The quest for meaningful engagement
(Fraunhofer Institute for Systems and Innovation Research ISI)
Ralf Lindner (Fraunhofer Institute for Systems and Innovation Research ISI)
Paper short abstract:
Paper long abstract:
Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) is a relatively new and still developing approach within the debate about the organization and steering of research processes as well as of STI policy. In evolving frameworks for RRI, public engagement and deliberation processes are integral elements which are supposed to support the creation of socially robust knowledge and to open up research and innovation processes. The aim of this contribution is to present research results based on an examination of the recently introduced RRI Unit within the Fraunhofer Society, where elaborated participatory methods are developed and implemented. In line with the project Res-AGorA, in which the authors are involved and which seeks to develop a governance framework for RRI, this contribution assesses the role public engagement can play within such a future governance framework. In order to do this, we examine explicit and implicit understandings of engagement processes and mechanisms and assess the governance arrangements in place, actors involved and de facto governance practices. While doing this, two interrelated levels of analysis are of relevance. First, we want to learn something THROUGH engagement by analyzing translations between the societal sphere (represented by individual citizens) and decision-making in questions related to science, technology and innovation. What needs to be considered here are, e.g., type and degree of institutionalization of public engagement as well as predominant power structures. Second, we also want to learn ABOUT engagement by taking into account potential changes in understandings of processes and actors and the role of public engagement as a governance tool.
Conceptualizing the practice of responsible research and innovation