In Spring 2006, for the first time in Italy, two citizens’ juries have been carried out in Bologna and Torino. Both focused on a notoriously tricky issue, traffic-sourced urban pollution, and adopted the same basic structure, including experts as key informants as well as opinion surveys before and after the jury process. However there were some significant differences in their design and implementation, the origins of which can be traced back to contrasting understandings of deliberation. One regards it as a means to build and express individual preferences. The other regards it as a means to perform public inquiries. The paper reflects on this divide, addressing also some theoretical implications of scientific uncertainty on deliberative process. It then looks at the two experiences, drawing on the reports and analyses conducted so far. It elaborates on the extent to which partially different goals and designs affect the debate and the final ‘verdict’, with remarkable similarities being complemented by some interesting discrepancies, and on the interplay between expert and lay participants and among the latter. Communication on uncertainty, fairness and authority seem to play a major role, together with an emergent ‘bridging effect’ between various aspects of the issue at stake.

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Public Communication of Science and Technology

 

Opinion and inquiry in science and technology deliberation.
Insights from two Italian citizens’ juries

Luigi Pellizzoni   University of Trieste

In Spring 2006, for the first time in Italy, two citizens’ juries have been carried out in Bologna and Torino. Both focused on a notoriously tricky issue, traffic-sourced urban pollution, and adopted the same basic structure, including experts as key informants as well as opinion surveys before and after the jury process. However there were some significant differences in their design and implementation, the origins of which can be traced back to contrasting understandings of deliberation. One regards it as a means to build and express individual preferences. The other regards it as a means to perform public inquiries. The paper reflects on this divide, addressing also some theoretical implications of scientific uncertainty on deliberative process. It then looks at the two experiences, drawing on the reports and analyses conducted so far. It elaborates on the extent to which partially different goals and designs affect the debate and the final ‘verdict’, with remarkable similarities being complemented by some interesting discrepancies, and on the interplay between expert and lay participants and among the latter. Communication on uncertainty, fairness and authority seem to play a major role, together with an emergent ‘bridging effect’ between various aspects of the issue at stake.

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

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