Recent years have witnessed a ‘democratic turn’ in science – society procedures and practices, focusing on active public participation in public debate and policy-making regarding issues of science and technology. The emerging paradigm of participation has - at least partly –been framed as a critique of what is perceived to be a reductionist, outdated ‘deficit model’ of citizen competence, literacy or understanding. In that sense, participatory modes of citizen involvement with science appear to be competing rather than complementary in offering a strategy for making science and technology accountable and open to society, based on discharge of concerns about public knowledge or scientific competence.

We argue that the question of how to discuss, analyze, and assess the role of citizens in knowledge societies should not be an either/or – participation or competence – but a matter of balancing both. We suggest that the idea of a ‘scientific citizenship’ could be useful as an integrative notion that aims at bridging the divide between concerns about public participation and public competence. In this paper we try to develop a robust measure of scientific citizenship by combining indicators of citizen competence and indicators of citizen participation. The empirical basis for the analyses is the 2005 63.1 Eurobarometer on ‘Europeans, Science and Technology’ and ‘Social values, Science and Technology’, and we present cross-country comparisons on the practice of scientific citizenship in Europe.

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Indicators of Scientific Citizenship and Civic Participation

Meijgaard Niels   (Alborg University) & Stares

Recent years have witnessed a ‘democratic turn’ in science – society procedures and practices, focusing on active public participation in public debate and policy-making regarding issues of science and technology. The emerging paradigm of participation has - at least partly –been framed as a critique of what is perceived to be a reductionist, outdated ‘deficit model’ of citizen competence, literacy or understanding. In that sense, participatory modes of citizen involvement with science appear to be competing rather than complementary in offering a strategy for making science and technology accountable and open to society, based on discharge of concerns about public knowledge or scientific competence.

We argue that the question of how to discuss, analyze, and assess the role of citizens in knowledge societies should not be an either/or – participation or competence – but a matter of balancing both. We suggest that the idea of a ‘scientific citizenship’ could be useful as an integrative notion that aims at bridging the divide between concerns about public participation and public competence. In this paper we try to develop a robust measure of scientific citizenship by combining indicators of citizen competence and indicators of citizen participation. The empirical basis for the analyses is the 2005 63.1 Eurobarometer on ‘Europeans, Science and Technology’ and ‘Social values, Science and Technology’, and we present cross-country comparisons on the practice of scientific citizenship in Europe.

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

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