Public participation in policy issues is increasing in the Dutch society. There are several reasons for this increase and they will be discussed in the paper.

First there is the historical emphasis on concensus-development in the dutch democratic system. The interesting part about this may be that the public here is often represented by strong ́public-interest ́- groups, in the dutch system often called ” the societal midfield”. Until recently participation was considered the ”cinderella of democracy”. But recent experiments in infrastructural planning show promising results. Secondly there is an increasing participatory approach in government environmental policymaking.

The interesting experience here is with the ́targetgroup-approach ́ where policymakers develop agreements with interestgroups, but more and more start including also public interestgroups in the process. Some examples of both successful and unsuccessful attempts will be given. Thirdly the national Technology Assessment agency has developed a series of ́technology debates‘, including a representative groups of citizens (much inspired by Danish examples).

And in this same field the Ministry of Economic Affairs has taken a greater interest in the societal dimension of science and technology, e.g. by promoting a new science museum in Amsterdam where also debates are organized on issues in science and technology. Fourthly, there is an interesting trend in decisionmaking in some Dutch industrial companies (notably Shell) that take the outside world seriously beyond public-relation efforts.

We will look into the role of the public, both as consumers and as concerned citizens. Especially the role of the Dutch churches has been interesting in this field.

Last, but not least, the use of electronic instruments is increasingly experimented with, especially in some of the infrastructure debates. Here the participants are primarily public-related experts, but increasingly the use of electronic consultation with the public is promoted.

After these examples we will develop some theoretical notions about the development of the passive concept of public acceptance moving in the direction of the more active public responsibility Also some comments will be made about the different roles that scientist may have to play in this new playing field.

">
 [PCST]
PCST Network

Public Communication of Science and Technology

 

What role for what public?
Dutch participation on a learning curve

Erik Tuininga   Free University of Amsterdam

Public participation in policy issues is increasing in the Dutch society. There are several reasons for this increase and they will be discussed in the paper.

First there is the historical emphasis on concensus-development in the dutch democratic system. The interesting part about this may be that the public here is often represented by strong ́public-interest ́- groups, in the dutch system often called ” the societal midfield”. Until recently participation was considered the ”cinderella of democracy”. But recent experiments in infrastructural planning show promising results. Secondly there is an increasing participatory approach in government environmental policymaking.

The interesting experience here is with the ́targetgroup-approach ́ where policymakers develop agreements with interestgroups, but more and more start including also public interestgroups in the process. Some examples of both successful and unsuccessful attempts will be given. Thirdly the national Technology Assessment agency has developed a series of ́technology debates‘, including a representative groups of citizens (much inspired by Danish examples).

And in this same field the Ministry of Economic Affairs has taken a greater interest in the societal dimension of science and technology, e.g. by promoting a new science museum in Amsterdam where also debates are organized on issues in science and technology. Fourthly, there is an interesting trend in decisionmaking in some Dutch industrial companies (notably Shell) that take the outside world seriously beyond public-relation efforts.

We will look into the role of the public, both as consumers and as concerned citizens. Especially the role of the Dutch churches has been interesting in this field.

Last, but not least, the use of electronic instruments is increasingly experimented with, especially in some of the infrastructure debates. Here the participants are primarily public-related experts, but increasingly the use of electronic consultation with the public is promoted.

After these examples we will develop some theoretical notions about the development of the passive concept of public acceptance moving in the direction of the more active public responsibility Also some comments will be made about the different roles that scientist may have to play in this new playing field.

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

BACK TO TOP