Lab Work Goes Social, and Vice Versa: Strategising Public Engagement Processes
- 609 Downloads
Midstream modulation is a form of public engagement with science which benefits from strategic application of science and technology studies (STS) insights accumulated over nearly 20 years. These have been developed from STS researchers’ involvement in practical engagement processes and research with scientists, science funders, policy and other public stakeholders. The strategic aim of this specific method, to develop what is termed second-order reflexivity amongst scientist-technologists, builds upon and advances earlier more general STS work. However this method is focused and structured so as to help generate such reflexivity—over the ‘upstream’ questions which have been identified in other STS research as important public issues for scientific research, development and innovation—amongst practising scientists-technologists in their specialist contexts (public or private, in principle). This is a different focus from virtually all such previous work, and offers novel opportunities for those key broader issues to be opened up. The further development of these promising results depends on some important conditions such as identifying and engaging research funders and other stakeholders like affected publics in similar exercises. Implementing these conditions could connect the productive impacts of midstream modulation with wider public engagement work, including with ‘uninvited’ public engagement with science. It would also generate broader institutional and political changes in the larger networks of institutional actors which constitute contemporary technoscientific innovation and governance processes. All of these various broader dimensions, far beyond the laboratory alone, need to be appropriately open, committed to democratic needs, and reflexive, for the aims of midstream modulation to be achieved, whilst allowing specialists to work as specialists.
KeywordsMidstream modulation Upstream public engagement in science Reflexivity Governance of innovation Institutional change
- BBSRC. (2004). Review of BBSRC-funded research relevant to crop science: A report for BBSRC Council. Swindon, UK: Biotechnology and Biosciences Research Council.Google Scholar
- BBSRC. (2007). Crop science initiative. Swindon, UK: Biotechnology and Biosciences Research Council. http://www.bbsrc.ac.uk/publications/corporate/crop-science-initiative.aspx. Last Accessed 30 Sept 2011.
- Doubleday, R., & Wynne, B. (2011). Despotism and democracy in the United Kingdom: Experiments in reframing citizenship. In S. Jasanoff (Ed.), Reframing rights: Bioconstitutionalism in a genomic age (chap. 11, pp. 239–261). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
- Genome British Columbia (2011). Pathways of integration of social sciences and humanities with genomics research. Working group, chair R. Ommer, Vancouver BC, Canada. http://www.genomebc.ca/index.php/download_fileview/611/910/. Last Accessed 19 Sept 2011.
- Jasanoff, S. (1990). The fifth branch: Science advisers as policymakers. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
- Kuhn, T. S. (1962, 1970). The structure of scientific revolutions. Chicago and London: Chicago University Press.Google Scholar
- Levidow, L., & Carr, S. (2010). GM food on trial: Testing European democracy. New York and Abingdon, UK: Routledge.Google Scholar
- Marris, C., Wynne, B., Simmons, P., & Weldon, S. (2001). Public attitudes to agricultural biotechnologies in Europe, PABE. EU FP7 Research Project report, FAIR Programme, Brussels D-G Research. http://www.lancs.ac.uk/sociology/csec/pabe. Last Accessed 19 Sept 2011.
- Schuurbiers, D. (2011). What happens in the lab does not stay in the lab: Applying midstream modulation to enhance reflection in the laboratory. Science and Engineering Ethics, 17(4) (this issue).Google Scholar
- Waterton, C., Grove-White, R., Mansfield, T., & Wynne, B. (2001). Scientists reflect on science: How scientists reflect upon their experience of the research-environment-policy interface. UK ESRC End-of-Award report, April 2001, CSEC, Lancaster University.Google Scholar
- Webster, A. (1989). The privatisation of public research: The case of the plant breeding institute. Science and Public Policy, 16, 224–232.Google Scholar
- Wynne, B. (1989). Frameworks of rationality in risk assessment: Towards the testing of naive sociology. In J. Brown (Ed.), Environmental threats: Perception, analysis, management (pp. 33–47). London and New York: Frances Pinter.Google Scholar
- Wynne, B. (2008). Public participation in science and technology: Performing and obscuring a political—conceptual category mistake. East Asian Science, Technology and Society: An International Journal, 1(1), 147–171.Google Scholar