The potential for public engagement to democratise science has come under increasing scrutiny amid concerns that conflicting motivations have led to confusion about what engagement means to those who mediate science and publics. This raises important yet relatively unexplored questions regarding how publics are constituted by different forms of engagement used by intermediary scholars and other actors. It is possible to identify at least two possible ‘rationalities of mediation’ that mobilise different versions of the public and the roles they are assumed to play, as ‘citizens’ or ‘users’, in discussions around technology. However, combinations of rationalities are found in practice and these have significant implications for the ‘new’ scientific democracy.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
One notable exception is the recent paper by Phil (Macnaghten et al. 2005), ‘Nanotechnology, governance, and public deliberation: what role for the social sciences’.
Barben, D. (2010). Analyzing acceptance politics: Towards an epistemological shift in the public understanding of science and technology. Public Understanding of Science, 19(3), 274–292.
Barry, A. (2000). Making the active scientific citizen. In Paper presented at 4S/EASST conference, ‘Technoscience, citizenship and culture’, University of Vienna, 28–30 September. From http://www.goldsmiths.ac.uk/csisp/papers/barry_active_scientific_citizen.pdf. Retrieved January 28, 2008.
Beder, S. (1999). Public participation or public relations. In B. T. Martin (Ed.), Technology and public participation (pp. 169–192). Wollongong, Australia: University of Wollongong: Science and Technology Studies.
BMRB (2008). Stem cell dialogue. From http://www.bbsrc.ac.uk/society/dialogue/activities/stem_cell_final_report.pdf. Retrieved January 22, 2009.
Callon, M., Law, J., & Rip, A. (1986). Mapping the dynamics of science and technology: Sociology of science in the real world. Macmillan: London.
Crombie, A., & Ducker, C. (2000). The first Australian consensus conference: Gene technology in the food chain (Evaluation—Phase 2 Report). Canberra: Grain Research and Development Corporation.
Elam, M. & Bertilsson, M. (2002). Consuming, engaging and confronting science: The emerging dimensions of scientific citizenship. In STAGE (Science, Technology and Governance in Europe) Discussion Paper One, March 2002. From http://www.stage-research.net/STAGE/downloads/StageDiscussPaper.pdf. Retrieved January 28, 2008.
Elam, M., Reynolds, L., Soneryd, L., Sundqvist, G., & Szerszynski, B. (2007). Mediators of issues and mediators of process: A theoretical framework arenas for risk governance (Contract Number: FP6–036413). Brussels: European Commission, Community Research, ARGONA.
Fiorino, D. J. (1990). Citizen participation and environmental risk: A survey of institutional mechanisms. Science, Technology and Human Values, 15, 226–243.
Irwin, A. (2001). Constructing the scientific citizen: science and democracy in the biosciences. Public Understanding of Science, 10, 1–18.
Irwin, A. (2006). The politics of talk: Coming to terms with the ‘New’ scientific governance. Social Studies of Science, 36(2), 299–320.
Laurent, B. (2011). Technologies of democracy: Experiments and demonstrations. Science and Engineering Ethics, 17, this issue.
Lezaun, J., & Soneryd, L. (2007). Consulting citizens: Technologies of elicitation and the mobility of publics. Public Understanding of Science, 16, 279–297.
Macnaghten, P., Kearnes, M., & Wynne, B. (2005). Nanotechnology, governance, and public deliberation: What role for the social sciences. Science Communication, 27(2), 1–24.
Michael, M. (1998). Between citizen and consumer: Multiplying the meanings of the ‘public understanding of science. Public Understanding of Science, 7, 313–327.
Mohr, A. (2002). Of being seen to do the right thing: Provisional findings from the first Australian consensus conference on gene technology in the food chain. Science and Public Policy, 29(1), 2–12.
Mohr, A. (2003). A new policy-making instrument? The first Australian consensus conference. Faculty of arts. From http://www4.gu.edu.au:8080/adt-root/public/adt-QGU20030707.075312/index.html. Retrieved February 2, 2008.
Mohr, A., Raman, S., & Elliott, R. (2009). An independent evaluation of the BBSRC and MRC Stem Cell Dialogue Project 2008. Institute for Science and Society: University of Nottingham.
Morgan, D. L. (1997). Focus groups as qualitative research. London: Sage.
Stirling, A. (2008). ‘Opening up’ and ‘closing down’: Power, participation, and pluralism in the social appraisal of technology. Science, Technology and Human Values, 33, 262–294.
Wynne, B. (1993). Public uptake of science: A case for institutional reflexivity. Public Understanding of Science, 2, 321–337.
About this article
Cite this article
Mohr, A. Publics in the Making: Mediating Different Methods of Engagement and the Publics These Construct. Sci Eng Ethics 17, 667–672 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11948-011-9312-0