Different forms of expertise in democratising technological cultures.


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Different forms of expertise in democratising technological cultures and experiences from the  current Societal Dialogue on Nanotechnologies in the Netherlands.

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Different forms of expertise in democratising technological cultures.

  1. 1. Different forms of  expertise in democratising technological cultures and experiences from the  current Societal Dialogue on Nanotechnologies in the Netherlands Wiebe E. Bijker Maastricht University Giannino Bassetti Foundation Milano, May 2010
  2. 2. “ We live in a Technological Culture” We cannot hope to understand society without understanding the role of technoscience We cannot hope to apply science and to design working technologies without understanding their role in society
  3. 3. Question <ul><li>How to democratize technological culture while: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Building on the insights of STS (SSK, SCOT, boundary work, ...) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Making use of the specific qualities of various forms of expertise, including scientific and engineering expertise </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Or: </li></ul><ul><li>Is there still a role for scientific advice? </li></ul>
  4. 4. Background in STS (Science, Technology and Society studies) <ul><li>SSK  scientific knowledge: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Is socially constructed </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Has no a priori special status </li></ul></ul><ul><li>SCOT  technology: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Is socially constructed </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Does not have any intrinsic obduracy </li></ul></ul>
  5. 5. Case-study: Health Council of the Netherlands <ul><li>Strategic research site </li></ul><ul><li>Our project: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Impact on society  ethnography </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>International generalization </li></ul></ul>
  6. 6. What is the societal influence of the Health Council? How big is the societal influence of the Health Council? In what way does the Health Council exercise influence?
  7. 7. The Health Council of the Netherlands <ul><li>Task: to advice Dutch government on the ‘state of knowledge’ concerning public health </li></ul><ul><li>Established in 1902: 100th anniversary on 8 October 2002 </li></ul><ul><li>Works mainly through a committee process </li></ul><ul><li>Highly respected: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>in scientific and policy circles, and among professional organisations </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>nationally and internationally </li></ul></ul>
  8. 8. Key concepts <ul><li>Constructed character of scientific knowledge </li></ul><ul><li>Frontstage — backstage </li></ul><ul><li>Co-ordination mechanisms and tools </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Problem definition </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Committee composition </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Committee process </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Rhetorical and literary techniques </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Distribution management and repair work </li></ul></ul>
  9. 9. <ul><li>Scientific advising </li></ul><ul><li>Risk governance of nanotechnologies </li></ul><ul><li>Societal dialogue on nano </li></ul>
  10. 10. Theory of scientific advising* <ul><li>Specifies scientific advising as: </li></ul><ul><li>Product </li></ul><ul><li>Work </li></ul><ul><li>Process </li></ul>* Bijker, W. E., Bal, R., & Hendriks, R. (2009) Paradox of Scientific Authority: the role of scientific advice in democracies . Cambridge, MA: MIT Press .
  11. 11. Product of Scientific Advising <ul><li>Advisory report: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Front stage identity </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Scientific, but not like research: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Serviceable truth: Scientific knowledge, which is tuned to policy making (e.g. GBF, Scienza e Governance , 2008) </li></ul></ul></ul>
  12. 12. Work of scientific advising <ul><li>Backstage activity </li></ul><ul><li>Boundary work (Gieryn, Jasanoff, Guston) + </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Social in addition to rhetorical </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Within restrictive conditions, and not in complete control </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Bridging boundaries after delineating them </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>In a variety of domains (not only science—policy) </li></ul></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>Coordination mechanisms: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Inseparable acts of distinguishing and coordinating </li></ul></ul>
  13. 13. Coordination mechanisms <ul><li>Problem definition </li></ul><ul><li>Selection committee members </li></ul><ul><li>Disciplines involved </li></ul><ul><li>Committee shaping </li></ul><ul><li>Civil servants as advisers </li></ul><ul><li>Disclosure procedure </li></ul><ul><li>Contacts HC-ministries </li></ul><ul><li>Committee chairing </li></ul><ul><li>Concept development </li></ul><ul><li>Hearings </li></ul><ul><li>Writing </li></ul><ul><li>Product differentiation </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Speed vs depth </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Adaption to political agenda </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Confidentiality / openness </li></ul><ul><li>Transparency </li></ul><ul><ul><li>At HV level </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>At committee level </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Information on committee process </li></ul><ul><li>President’s letter </li></ul><ul><li>Press policy </li></ul><ul><li>Relations to other advisory agencies and research institutes </li></ul><ul><li>International relations </li></ul>
  14. 14. Scientific advising in Process <ul><li>How to position scientific advising in the wider process of democratic (risk) governance? </li></ul>Case: risk governance in nanotechnologies
  15. 15. <ul><li>Scientific advising </li></ul><ul><li>Risk governance of nanotechnologies </li></ul><ul><li>Societal dialogue on nano </li></ul>
  16. 16. Vulnerability : <ul><li>… is a characteristic of technological cultures: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Vulnerability is caused by S&T </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>S&T help to harness vulnerability </li></ul></ul><ul><li>… is inevitable: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>As unintended consequence of S&T </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>As prerequisite for innovation, learning, flexibility, development, ... </li></ul></ul>
  17. 17. Risk is more than a number: <ul><li>Depending on definitions and boundaries </li></ul><ul><li>Varying with perceptions </li></ul><ul><li>Value-laden </li></ul><ul><li>Scientific knowledge is not always certain </li></ul>Risk communication Risk governance
  18. 18. Shift of paradigm: <ul><li>Risk communication: </li></ul><ul><li>Risk is hard fact that needs to be explained better to lay public </li></ul><ul><li>Citizen is stupid </li></ul><ul><li>One-way communication </li></ul><ul><li>Risk governance: </li></ul><ul><li>Should acknowledge: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Plurality of knowledge </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>(Un)certainty of scientific knowledge </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Addition to 19th century constitution of democracy </li></ul><ul><li>Two-way communication </li></ul>
  19. 19. Risk Governance: core idea <ul><li>Classify risk situations </li></ul><ul><li>For each risk situation, there is an appropriate: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Approach of risk management </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Set of involved experts/groups </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Set of possible risk management & policy instruments </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Continuously monitor S&T developments and risk situations </li></ul>
  20. 20. What is ‘nano’? <ul><li>Nano science and technologie s : </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Scale 1-100 nm </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Top-down + bottom-up approaches </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>High expectations; yet few commercial applications (sun cr è mes, tires, opto-electrical layers, aseptic layers, ...) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Heterogeneous, enabling technologie s </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Promises and risks? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Nothing new, merely very small? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Fundamentally new phenomena? </li></ul></ul>
  21. 21. New problem (due to special character of [nano-] developments) <ul><li>Promising developments that deserve support </li></ul><ul><li>Serious indication for damage, but no firm scientific evidence yet </li></ul><ul><li>Unclear to what extent existing rules & regulations are adequate </li></ul>
  22. 22. Dilemma of nanotechnologies <ul><li>(applies to many new technologies) </li></ul><ul><li>If problems surface, momentum of technologies has built up so that they are difficult to change </li></ul><ul><li>When technologies can be changed, problems have not yet become clear </li></ul>
  23. 23. Risk Governance: classification Risk-situation Approach Involved groups (and their specific expertises) Simple Routine Scientists (institutes) Complex Information ..... + Scientists (NGO’s) Uncertain Precaution ..... + Stakeholders Ambiguous Discourse ..... + Citizens
  24. 24. But, of course: Who decides? Risk-situation Approach Involved groups Simple Routine Scientists (institutes) Complex Information ..... + Scientists (NGO’s) Uncertain Precaution ..... + Stakeholders Ambiguous Discourse ..... + Citizens
  25. 25. ‘ triage’ of risk & expertise <ul><li>Broad monitoring committee </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Advises government on nanotechnologies’ state of the art and associated risk classification </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>With heterogeneous membership of citizens, stakeholders, scientific & technical experts </li></ul></ul></ul>Health Council Public Debates Sector Councils .....
  26. 26. <ul><li>Scientific advising </li></ul><ul><li>Risk governance of nanotechnologies </li></ul><ul><li>Societal dialogue on nano </li></ul>
  27. 27. Dutch Societal Dialogue on Nano <ul><li>Open agenda and participation </li></ul><ul><li>Organizing Committee is independent </li></ul><ul><li>Means: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Information distribution </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Awareness building </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Dialogue </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Outcome: “Dutch societal agenda nanotechnologies” </li></ul><ul><li>Timing: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Public activities: April-October 2010 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Final report with societal agenda: December 2010 </li></ul></ul>
  28. 28. Initial themes for dialogue <ul><li>Ethics </li></ul><ul><li>Health (opportunities and risks) </li></ul><ul><li>Environment </li></ul><ul><li>Sustainable economic growth </li></ul><ul><li>Distribution </li></ul><ul><li>Security, privacy and vulnerability </li></ul>
  29. 29. Projects <ul><li>Information </li></ul><ul><li>I know nano: Nano in 2 nd school </li></ul><ul><li>Books </li></ul><ul><li>TV programs </li></ul><ul><li>Exhibitions </li></ul><ul><li>Touring lab bus </li></ul><ul><li>Animal experiments </li></ul><ul><li>Awareness </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Nano in the baby room </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Theatre plays </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Artistic reflections on nano </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Vignets & scenario’s </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Dialogue </li></ul><ul><li>Nano LinX – school debates on nano </li></ul><ul><li>Web debates </li></ul><ul><li>Science cafés </li></ul><ul><li>Nano and religion </li></ul><ul><li>Nano law and peace </li></ul>
  30. 30. Conclusion (1): on Expertise & Democracy <ul><li>Democratic technological cultures need balancing of different kinds of expertise </li></ul><ul><li>Our ‘theory of scientific advising’ provides a framework to discuss and shape this ‘balancing’ </li></ul><ul><ul><li>For example: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>It points to the need for institutions such as the Health Council of the Netherlands, or the US National Academy of Sciences </li></ul></ul>
  31. 31. Conclusion (2): on case-study <ul><li>Institutions like the Health Council : </li></ul><ul><ul><li>serve democracy by providing an (‘undemocratically’) secluded space for scientific debate and advising </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>create trust in scientific expertise while reflexively and consciously recognizing a constructivist epistemology </li></ul></ul>
  32. 32. Conclusion (3): on nanotechnology dialogue <ul><li>No conclusion yet, </li></ul><ul><li>keep fingers crossed… </li></ul><ul><li>You can try your Dutch on: </li></ul><ul><li>http://www.nanopodium.nl </li></ul>
  33. 33. Conclusion (4): on new forms of democracy <ul><li>Experiments on democracy are needed </li></ul><ul><li>To build towards a new constitution for democracy in technological cultures </li></ul><ul><li>Because we do not want to leave societal development to be determined (solely) by technoscience </li></ul>
  34. 34. References <ul><li>Bijker, W. E., Bal, R., & Hendriks, R. (2009). Paradox of Scientific Authority: the role of scientific advice in democracies . Cambridge, MA: MIT Press . ( Reviewed by Alessandro Colombo , IReR, in Evidence & Policy: A Journal of Research, Debate and Practice) </li></ul><ul><li>Bijker, W. E. (2006). Why and How Technology Matters. In R. E. Goodin & C. Tilly (Eds.), Oxford Handbook of Contextual Political Analysis (pp. 681-706). Oxford: Oxford University Press. </li></ul><ul><li>Bijker, W. E. (2010). How is technology made? -That is the question! Cambridge Journal of Economics , 34(1), 63-76. </li></ul><ul><li>Bijker, W. E., & d'Andrea, L. (Eds.). (2009). Handbook on the Socialisation of Scientific and Technological Research. A tool for promoting science and technology socialisation policies addressed to policy makers, research and innovation actors and stakeholders. Brussels: EU. </li></ul><ul><li>Gezondheidsraad. (2006). Health Significance of Nanotechnologies (No. 2006/06E). Den Haag: Gezondheidsraad . </li></ul><ul><li>Bijker, W. E. (2004). Sustainable Policy? A Public Debate about Nature Development in the Netherlands . History and Technology , 20(4), 371–391. </li></ul><ul><li>Bijker, W. E. (1998). La bicicletta e altre Innovazioni . Milano: McGraw-Hill Libri Italia. </li></ul>
  35. 35. http://www.fdcw.unimaas.nl/staff/bijker
  36. 36. Precautionary principle: <ul><li>Act (including possibility of non-intervention) : </li></ul><ul><li>because there are scientific indications of serious damage </li></ul><ul><li>although there is insufficient scientific knowledge </li></ul>
  37. 37. Discussion of Precaution <ul><li>Two versions: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Strong: “if no proof of safety, do not apply” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Weak: “lack of certain knowledge is no reason to abstain from intervention” </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Burden of proof: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Reversal? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Redistribution! </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Evaluation: between extremes such as </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ the end of all innovation ! ” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“ at last we can stop capitalist technology-push ! ” </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Problem: when and how to apply? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>(cf. Wittgenstein) </li></ul></ul>
  38. 38. backstage frontstage Coordination- mechanisms science policy interests knowledge Civil servant as advisor hearings
  39. 39. A ‘third position’? societal problems political decision-making democracy HC third position shortest route technocracy
  40. 40. Third position, characterization: <ul><li>Third position = Detour : lends distance: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>To politics </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>To acute societal problems </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>but is serviceable to both </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Third position = different genre by itself : scientific advising: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Creating hybrids (advice = science + policy) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Take “academic time” for political issues </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Third position is: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Necessary for democracy </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Only possible in democracy </li></ul></ul>