Science and Engineering Ethics

, Volume 17, Issue 4, pp 649–666

Technologies of Democracy: Experiments and Demonstrations


DOI: 10.1007/s11948-011-9303-1

Cite this article as:
Laurent, B. Sci Eng Ethics (2011) 17: 649. doi:10.1007/s11948-011-9303-1


Technologies of democracy are instruments based on material apparatus, social practices and expert knowledge that organize the participation of various publics in the definition and treatment of public problems. Using three examples related to the engagement of publics in nanotechnology in France (a citizen conference, a series of public meetings, and an industrial design process), the paper argues that Science and Technology Studies provide useful tools and methods for the analysis of technologies of democracy. Operations of experiments and public demonstrations can be described, as well as controversies about technologies of democracy giving rise to counter-experiments and counter-demonstrations. The political value of the analysis of public engagement lies in the description of processes of stabilization of democratic orders and in the display of potential alternative political arrangements.


Technology of democracySTSPublic engagement

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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre de Sociologie de l’InnovationMines ParisTechParis Cedex 06France