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Accepted Paper:

Public participation in techno-scientific controversies: a focus group of Italian residents on the Turin-Lyon high-speed train  
Federica Cagnoli (University of Genoa)

Short abstract:

This paper intends to question what we have taken for granted in public participation in techno-scientific controversies by listening to ordinary people participating in focus groups and dealing with a high-speed train as a controversy to discuss.

Long abstract:

Our society is facing ever more complex techno-scientific controversies, ranging from urban infrastructures to emerging technologies. From this viewpoint, several STS scholars have praised the so-called ‘participatory turn’, in which laypeople can provide societal resources and knowledge to help solve such challenges. However, problems continue to be part of this framework. The laypeople-scientists relationship has tended to be based on a top-down approach, where science maintains a higher position at the expense of ordinary people and their participation in the debate. But current issues are wicked and need new perspectives: The co-production of knowledge has been considered a consequent evolution for better participation of laypeople.

This paper intends to shed light on these assumptions by questioning what we have taken for granted so far in such a participatory turn. To do so, it conducts focus groups on the Turin-Lyon high-speed train, an infrastructure that should connect Italy and France via the Alps and has generated many controversies in Italy, both among scientists and citizens, over the past 20 years. Four focus groups, for a total of 24 Italian residents, will discuss the relationship between citizens and scientists in this kind of controversy. Stimuli will be presented to help participants present their thoughts on the matter.

Besides the contribution from an empirical viewpoint, this paper can be valuable for practitioners to see other versions of this phenomenon, which are usually hidden, thanks to directly listening to those supposed to be involved, the people.

Traditional Open Panel P376
What are we missing, what do we take for granted? Disruption and reconfiguration of public participation in science and technology studies
  Session 1 Friday 19 July, 2024, -