chapter  2
17 Pages

Contingent participation: imaginaries of sustainable technoscientific innovation in the European Union


Citizen or public participation (these tend to be used interchangeably, see: Irwin 2006a: 299) is often valorised in the governance of technoscience, both as a good in itself and as an essential component of legal and regulatory decision-making. In this chapter we consider how citizen participation is contingent on imaginaries. Our case study for the latter investigation is sustainable development as it has been linked to and operationalised in the European Union’s (EU’s) broader agenda on technoscientific innovation. At least in the global West, democracy and citizenship are so deeply embedded that citizens and publics always matter and ‘no participation’ is not an option. Indeed, there is increasing awareness of diverse citizenry and publics voicing and often contesting elite claims about public interests and needs, for example, with regard to risks and benefits of new technologies or (their attendant) environmental hazards (Fiorini 1990). A particularly important reason for the focus on participation is the recognition that complex scientific and technological systems have repeatedly and increasingly been unable to prevent – and can even actually produce – accidents, disasters and risks (Beck 1986; Beck 2009; Giddens 1998).