PCST Network

Public Communication of Science and Technology


“I mean I left school at fourteen dear so I've never, you know, I’m not very well educated”
Public Identities and Engagement

Clare Wilkinson  

Public engagement brings new responsibilities to citizens that are involved to be 'representative' and yet we rarely consider it from their perspective, instead often focussing on it from a practitioner perspective in considering how to target, design and evaluate public engagement exercises for the 'right' mix of participants. Yet at the same time as we have a desire for public representation it appears that many public participants may in fact work to conceptualise themselves as 'unique'. When compared to 'other people' who they see as unconcerned, misinformed or relatively ignorant, or as possessing knowledge and understanding over and above their own. When compared to our understanding of the motivations and aims of scientists and engagement practitioners involved in such procedures (Martín-Sempere, Garzón-García, and Rey-Rocha, 2008; Poliakoff and Webb, 2007; Pearson, 2001) research on the attitudes of publics themselves and their contributions to it are relatively lacking (Felt and Fochler, 2008). In addition whilst there are many practical resources on dialogues benefits and outcomes from a researchers and/or communicators perspective, few start from the perspective of the public voice. This paper via exploration of three projects, considering subjects as diverse medical genetics, robotics and infant weaning will consider how public participants frame and represent their own contributions, in contrast to that of 'others'?

A copy of the full paper has not yet been submitted.