Accepted Papers:

Dirty dancing on democratic stages: knowledge that matters in nuclear waste experiments  

Author:

Céline Parotte (University of Liège)

Paper Short Abstract:

This paper focuses on the co-production of publics and experts knowledges in nuclear waste experiments. Based on three situated experiments in Belgium, France and Canada, it compares the dance styles of nuclear waste management organizations dealing with active publics on democratic stages.

Paper long abstract:

Among the many experiments in democracy, nuclear waste management is a fascinating case to question the co-production of publics and experts knowledge. Nuclear waste management (NWM) organizations know that audiences are not trusting worshipers anymore, but rather critical spectators, so they adapt their knowledge production strategies accordingly. Several authors already underlined that reception and production sides of knowledge occur at the same time in particular physical and social spaces, which all have their own procedural and normative rules of what should and will be considered as reliable. One key argument is that there is no knowledge performer (and performance) without an audience and vice versa. Publics and NWM organizations could metaphorically be considered as partners dancing together on a particular stage. In this sense, dancing partners jointly participate in the performance as they can each produce and receive knowledge, to which they can be "subjected" or of which they can be an "agent" (Jasanoff 2011, Hilgartner 2000, Ezrahi 1990). But do publics and experts equally perform the dance in nuclear waste experiments? Is one partner more authoritative than the other? Do publics have to wait for the invitation or can they sometimes lead the dance? Is one dancer "hitting the notes, but missing the music" (Wynne 2006)? And whose music?

Based on 82 semi-directive interviews conducted in Belgium, in France and in Canada, this paper focuses on three situated experiments in Western democracies and compares the dance styles of nuclear waste management organizations dealing with active publics on democratic stages.

panel V03
Expertise, publics and anticipations