Scientists engaged in technology development are expected to incorporate the views and needs of users and stakeholders to ensure that new technologies are adopted. This study focuses on the discursive devices stakeholders in Dutch plant science employ when they talk about prospective users of technology. For this study eight meetings of a stakeholder board that advises government on what plant research should get funded, were analysed with the help of discursive psychology.

Depending on the topic discussed participants in the stakeholder board depict prospective users of technology as either emotional or as rational. Hypothetical dialogue with rationally acting users is invoked when stakeholders discuss the possible continuation of a research programme. In contrast, in problem talk the dominant discursive construction consists of a statement about users’ negative emotional disposition towards technology followed or preceded by a reported dialogue between technology developers and users. With these dialogical constructions of users, stakeholders in plant science demonstrate – among other things – that they take user engagement seriously without necessarily doing something with the  concerns of prospective users.

Increas do as a new technolgoingly, stakeholders are involved in the development process of technologies via advisory boards: the underlying assumption is that the stakeholders’ par- ticipation in these boards will result in technologies that will be adopted by prospective users. Although many user engagement activities are organised it is rarely investigated how participants in deliberations about (plant) technology development discursively engage with prospective users’ experiences and views (e.g. see Leach et al. 2005).

This study seeks to partly address this gap in the literature by providing insight into how portrayals of users of new plant technologies are made relevant in plant science. The situated uses of reported dialogue between developers and users are discussed in order to depict users as either emotional or as rational (see Tannen (1989) for more on reported dialogue). 

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Depictions of users in stakeholder board meetings in plant science

Karen Mogendorff   Wageningen University, The Netherlands

Scientists engaged in technology development are expected to incorporate the views and needs of users and stakeholders to ensure that new technologies are adopted. This study focuses on the discursive devices stakeholders in Dutch plant science employ when they talk about prospective users of technology. For this study eight meetings of a stakeholder board that advises government on what plant research should get funded, were analysed with the help of discursive psychology.

Depending on the topic discussed participants in the stakeholder board depict prospective users of technology as either emotional or as rational. Hypothetical dialogue with rationally acting users is invoked when stakeholders discuss the possible continuation of a research programme. In contrast, in problem talk the dominant discursive construction consists of a statement about users’ negative emotional disposition towards technology followed or preceded by a reported dialogue between technology developers and users. With these dialogical constructions of users, stakeholders in plant science demonstrate – among other things – that they take user engagement seriously without necessarily doing something with the  concerns of prospective users.

Increas do as a new technolgoingly, stakeholders are involved in the development process of technologies via advisory boards: the underlying assumption is that the stakeholders’ par- ticipation in these boards will result in technologies that will be adopted by prospective users. Although many user engagement activities are organised it is rarely investigated how participants in deliberations about (plant) technology development discursively engage with prospective users’ experiences and views (e.g. see Leach et al. 2005).

This study seeks to partly address this gap in the literature by providing insight into how portrayals of users of new plant technologies are made relevant in plant science. The situated uses of reported dialogue between developers and users are discussed in order to depict users as either emotional or as rational (see Tannen (1989) for more on reported dialogue). 

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