Political engagement with science, expertise and democracy

Rob Hagendijk (Political Science Department, Universiteit van Amsterdam)

October 21, 2011, 17h00

Room 2, CES-Coimbra

The success of the movement to promote public participation in decision-making about science and technology that emerged in the 1990s has clear limitations. Across Europe and beyond public engagement policies have been endorsed but it in different formats and in different degrees across countries and domains.  In the rest of the world the effect has been even less pronounced. And often governmental consultations are a new form of political marketing instead of genuine attempts to extend political democracy.  Public debate about technoscience is more often a by-product of disastrous events and not primarily a sign of ‘upstream’ public involvement to shape common destinies. And although it may be difficult to tell the various forms of engagement apart, I will argue it is rather important to try to do so. Furthermore, I will argue that to do so requires a fresh look at empirical examples as well as more theoretical reflection, both in STS and in political theory.  A good starting point for such work may be to start to speak of ‘political engagement’ instead of ‘public engagement’ with science, expertise and democracy. In my presentation I will explore where such a move might lead us.

Rob Hagendijk
is Associate Professor in the Political Science Department of the Universiteit van Amsterdam. Former Dean of the International School of Humanities and Social Sciences (ISHSS) 1998-2008. Prof. Hagendijk's research interests include social theory, theory of science, science policy, public understanding of science, scientific and technological controversies, public participation in technological decision making, technology and global development, social sciences and public policy, social and cultural studies of  genomics,  urban policy making and multiculturalism, urban management and the social sciences. From 1992-2000 he was treasurer and president of the European Association for the Study of Science and Technology EASST, Founder and Board Member of the Netherlands Graduate School for Science, Technology and Modern Culture (WTMC), and recently initiator of the 'Science and Democracy Network', a Harvard network of scholars and researchers to discuss research work and developments in the theoretical perspectives related to issues of science and democracy. He is also Collaborative Editor of the journal Science, Technology and Human Values and a Member of the ASSR.

Conference organized by Programa de Doutoramento 'Governação, Conhecimento e Inovação'