Accepted Paper:

Converging in dialogue? Nanotechnology as multi- and transnational field of democratic experimentation  


Franz Seifert

Paper short abstract:

The presentation outlines the analytic premises and preliminary results of an on-going research project focussing on dialogical experimentation regarding nanotechnology in France, Germany and the UK, drawing on concepts of political culture, policy diffusion and advocacy coalitions.

Paper long abstract:

Nanotech advocates and critics typically converge in a call for ethical expertise and public dialogue, deliberation, participation on nanotech. This convergence among disparate actors and national discourses is not a trivial matter. Specifically, it cannot be attributed to some 'anti-nanotech' mood in the public/media as nanotech has hardly ever been controversial in the media, and only in single cases targeted by activists. So, why has this 'deliberative', 'participatory' or 'dialogical turn' in this technology field come to pass? More specifically, how did it unfold over time and across countries? The presentation gives an overview over the analytic premises and preliminary results of an on-going research project focussing on deliberative experimentation in three countries—France, Germany and the UK—over an observation period of 15 years. It combines three aspects—a domestic perspective, transnational diffusion, and policy-oriented learning. Domestic contextual conditions account for the fact that dialogical experimentation in various countries manifest themselves in characteristic ways (e.g., 'civic epistemologies' Jasanoff). At the same time, the deliberative turn is a transnational phenomenon since deliberative experimentation has gained currency in a number of countries at about the same time. This, in turn, can be explained through transnational diffusion—the transfer of policy models between states (e.g., Voß, Amelung, Soneryd). The concept of policy-oriented learning describes the deliberative/participatory/dialogical turn as a learning process from past collective experiences such as public controversies. The study crucially draws on the 'Advocacy Coalition' approach (Sabatier/Jenkins).

Panel E09
Experiments in democracy