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Shifting and Deepening Engagements.

Abstract : Public participation in science, technology, and innovation is a significant trend in contemporary western democracies, which increasingly implicates the social scien-tist in diverse ways. Yet, the question as to how social scientists actually engage in public participation, and how their engagements may be normatively justified, is not the object of systematic consideration in participatory frameworks and in ac-tion-oriented social science. In this article, we ask how social scientists can take responsibility for their normative choices when engaging in participatory practice. Drawing on our experiences as researchers of public participation in nanotechnol-ogies in Flanders (Belgium) and France, respectively, we reflectively consider our relationship with research subjects, the political relevance of our work, and the research problems we deal with. This leads us to articulate three modes of norma-tivity that inform our commitments: a process mode, a critical mode, and a mode inspired by Actor Network Theory. Differentiating between these modes and gar-nering sensitivity towards each mode's characteristics opens the way to experi-mentation with different types of normativity through which the social scientist accounts for his commitments and shifts or deepens his engagements in response to conflicting demands and real-world circumstances. Thus, rather than endorsing one approach to participation, we recommend a pragmatic attitude that implies systematic probing of the roles the social scientist assumes vis-à-vis other partici-pants, interests, and objectives, and that enables him to continually adjust his po-sition in view of the particularities of his situation.
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https://hal-mines-paristech.archives-ouvertes.fr/hal-00858362
Contributor : Catherine Lucas <>
Submitted on : Thursday, September 5, 2013 - 11:58:12 AM
Last modification on : Saturday, May 15, 2021 - 3:00:02 PM

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  • HAL Id : hal-00858362, version 1

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Michiel van Oudheusden,, Brice Laurent. Shifting and Deepening Engagements.. Science, Technology & Innovation Studies, 2013, 9 (1), pp.3-22. ⟨hal-00858362⟩

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