Different forms and technologies for presenting science to a wider audience are capable of producing many different types of publics. Technologies for generating qualitative deliberations among citizens on science and technology issues are often presented as generic genres of public participation methods (such as the consensus conference or the citizens jury), in practice however the type of ‘public’ they mobilise may differ depending on how they are designed and organised. This paper draws on different genres of public participation methods in order to discuss the mechanisms by which publics are constructed (selection criteria, stimulus material etc.). The aim is also to examine in detail a case, GM Nation, which consisted of a series of events happening in the UK in 2003, representing one of the largest participatory processes around disputed technologies in Europe. GM Nation also reveals another category or genre – one that involves a hybrid or baroque structure, mixing various modes and scales of public engagement and deliberation. These mixed modes or types of for a can be said to invoke or enrol different modes of publicness. The GM Nation case is also used to illustrate the importance of historic context or conjuncture, revealing how deliberative fora and processes can play different roles and take on different forms depending on their context.

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Public Communication of Science and Technology

 

Engagement and purification
Locating the public in GM Nation?

Bron Szerszynski   Lancaster University

Larry Reynolds   Lancaster University

Linda Soneryd   Score, Stockholm, Sweden

Different forms and technologies for presenting science to a wider audience are capable of producing many different types of publics. Technologies for generating qualitative deliberations among citizens on science and technology issues are often presented as generic genres of public participation methods (such as the consensus conference or the citizens jury), in practice however the type of ‘public’ they mobilise may differ depending on how they are designed and organised. This paper draws on different genres of public participation methods in order to discuss the mechanisms by which publics are constructed (selection criteria, stimulus material etc.). The aim is also to examine in detail a case, GM Nation, which consisted of a series of events happening in the UK in 2003, representing one of the largest participatory processes around disputed technologies in Europe. GM Nation also reveals another category or genre – one that involves a hybrid or baroque structure, mixing various modes and scales of public engagement and deliberation. These mixed modes or types of for a can be said to invoke or enrol different modes of publicness. The GM Nation case is also used to illustrate the importance of historic context or conjuncture, revealing how deliberative fora and processes can play different roles and take on different forms depending on their context.

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