This discussion is based upon the theoretical framework and overview of cases presented in Part I of this book as well as on the in-depth studies of selected processed reviewed in Parts II and III. These conclusions drawn will constitute the starting point discussion about the potential future of deliberative processes in this field. Will more exercises in participatory democracy only produce more of the same reflections and just repeat a limited set of political concerns and suggestions, or do we need a third generation? Finally we suggest some areas suitable for public involvement, areas we believe to be rather soon on the political and scientific agenda. 13.2 The Generational Perspective
We introduce the notion of ‘generations’ of deliberative processes as a means of describing a kind of learning process across time and space, and as a way of conceptualising a development towards increased sophistication up to the present and into the future. In this perspective, if some ways of approaching the themes of nano deliberation seem less relevant today it is not because of any process design faults, but because they probably no longer produce new and interesting insights. At this point, we will just present a very broad overview of how we distinguish between generation one and two. One should bear in mind that the differences between generations are about main tendencies and not clear-cut definitions. Obviously, the generational perspective is applied after the events. The organisers of the Citizens’ Conference in Île-de-France never knew that they would later be seen as pioneers of a new generation of deliberations. Deliberations placed under generation one are necessarily rather general, often focusing on the role of science in modern societies, how it is financed, and how it should be controlled. Their take on nano is also rather general, since they were conducted at a time when there were much talk about unlimited potentials, unspecific possible risks, and few real applications. The image of nano was closely linked to the science laboratory. In addition, organisers at the time would have to assume that the average citizen knows nothing about ‘nano’ and perhaps has never even heard the expression. Also, the relationship between the deliberation and world of political decision-making was unclear.