Accepted paper:

Opening science to civic society: the case of stakeholder committees in research organisations in France


Lucile Ottolini (INRA / INERIS)

Paper short abstract:

This paper studies an institutional innovation: the creation of stakeholder committees in public research organizations. Paying attention ''to rules and rule making'' of stakeholder committees in 4 cases we will explore if it changed the scientific governance in the institutions concerned.

Paper long abstract:

This paper draws on the analysis of an institutional innovation: the creation of stakeholder committees in public research organisations. In France, this innovation dates back from the 2000's. The official objective is to open up the governance to members of the 'civic society' in order to increase research pluralism and to improve the alignment between 'societal needs' and production of scientific and technical knowledge.

So far, such opening up has not been studied. As these stakeholder committees have now ten years experiences, successes and failures, the time is ripe to thoroughly analyse this institutional innovation. Can such committees influence knowledge production and orientations? Does it change the sociology of people involved in scientific decisions? What practices does it promote in scientific institutions? To explore those general questions, this paper pays attention "to rules and rule making" of stakeholder committees (Epstein 1998, Fischer 2000, Weisman 1998, Frickel & Moore 2005). Here we focus on specific rules: accreditation as a representative (people and organizations) - hearing (roles and knowledges) - file process - agendas setting - relationships to other institutional governance parts.

Our comparative study draws on the analysis of 4 stakeholder committees settled as part of scientific governance in French expertise and research institutions in sanitary and environmental fields. Qualitative and quantitative data were collected by participant observatory, interviews and archival work. The results shows that public engagement is highly shaped by rules processes.

panel D03
Contested gates -- epistemic and social implications of opening knowledge production and science communication