Public engagement coming of age: From theory to practice in STS encounters with nanotechnology

  • Delgado A
  • Kjølberg K
  • Wickson F
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Abstract

In this paper, we present a study of Science and Technology Studies (STS) perspectives on public engagement, specifically focusing on the gap between theory and practice. In aiming to develop a conceptual map of this gap, we identify five top topics of tension. These are related to the general questions of: “Why should we do public engagement?,” “Who should be involved?,” “How should it be organised?,” “When should it be done?” and “Where should it be grounded?” We employ nanotechnology as a paradigmatic case to help us explore these tensions. In practice, the choices one makes in relation to one topic of tension may influence the choices available for others. Enhanced awareness of the presence of these tensions, as well as their interconnections, can help build reflexive capacity and make visible the various alternative routes available for STS practitioners working in the “age of engagement.”

Author-supplied keywords

  • STS
  • nanotechnology
  • public engagement
  • public participation

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Authors

  • Ana Delgado

  • Kamilla Lein Kjølberg

  • Fern Wickson

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