Reflexively engaging with technologies of participation: constructive assessment for public participation methods
In this chapter, I do two things. First, I briefly reconstruct how political participation becomes technologized and argue that there is a modal shift in how constitutions of democracy are built: from politics to technoscience. I discuss how this modal shift is accompanied by reflexive engagement practices that counter technoscientific closure and seek to open up and re-politicize methods of public participation. Second, I give a more detailed account of a recent interactive assessment exercise on the future development of citizen panels. It was an attempt to apply methodological considerations of constructive technology assessment (CTA) to the ‘social technology’ of participation methods. The chapter discusses how the exercise engages with the innovation of citizen panels, but also how, as an expertly devised method, it may itself be conceived of as a further instance of the technoscientization of governance. In conclusion, I return to the overall innovation dynamics of public participation methods. I argue that technoscientization and reflexive engagement make a precarious balance in coping with ambiguities of innovation, and I briefly discuss what this means for wider areas of ‘social innovation’ and their links with issues of ‘responsible research and innovation’.