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Uncertainty and Participatory Democracy

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  • Luigi Pellizzoni
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    Abstract

    The article deals with some implications of radical uncertainty for participatory democracy, and more precisely for Participatory Technology Assessment (PTA). Two main forms of PTA are discussed. One is aimed at involving lay citizens and highlighting public opinion. The other is addressed to stakeholder groups and organisations, not only in terms of interest mediation but also of inclusion of their insight into a problem. Radical uncertainty makes 'intractable' many environmental and technological issues and brings into question traditional and new approaches to policy-making. Its consequences are explored from the viewpoint of new science, deliberative democracy, and network governance. Radical uncertainty calls for a rethinking of the aims of public deliberation, and a reinterpretation of the divide between opinion- and position-oriented PTA. To look for a public opinion, understood as a shared principled view, can prove misleading, as can thinking of stakeholder participatory arrangements in the usual way. When facts and values overlap, and are deeply controversial, the only opportunity for mutual understanding may be to look for practical, 'local' answers, based on different positional insights. Moreover, radical uncertainty also affects interest determination and pursuit, and may enhance the opportunity of joint, inclusive, non-strategic issue definition and solution-devising. This vision of public deliberation is consistent with the idea of network governance. However, fragmentation can affect the effectiveness and legitimacy of participatory policies. Trying to handle fragmentation from the top, as many suggest, is unlikely to be successful. A more promising endeavour is to foster deliberative settings which, although positioned at the level of 'local' and often contingent networks and commonalities, are open to include 'Otherness' - other contexts, other problem definitions, other concerns.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by White Horse Press in its journal Environmental Values.

    Volume (Year): 12 (2003)
    Issue (Month): 2 (May)
    Pages: 195-224

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    Handle: RePEc:env:journl:ev12:ev1210

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    Web page: http://www.erica.demon.co.uk

    Related research

    Keywords: Intractable problems; deliberative democracy; governance; participatory technology assessment; incommensurability;

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    Cited by:
    1. Blackstock, K.L. & Kelly, G.J. & Horsey, B.L., 2007. "Developing and applying a framework to evaluate participatory research for sustainability," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 60(4), pages 726-742, February.
    2. Vandermeulen, V. & Van Huylenbroeck, G., 2008. "Designing trans-disciplinary research to support policy formulation for sustainable agricultural development," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 67(3), pages 352-361, October.
    3. A. Russell & Frank Vanclay & Janet Salisbury & Heather Aslin, 2011. "Technology assessment in Australia: the case for a formal agency to improve advice to policy makers," Policy Sciences, Springer, vol. 44(2), pages 157-177, June.
    4. Ely, Adrian & Van Zwanenberg, Patrick & Stirling, Andrew, 2014. "Broadening out and opening up technology assessment: Approaches to enhance international development, co-ordination and democratisation," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 43(3), pages 505-518.
    5. Vatn, Arild, 2009. "An institutional analysis of methods for environmental appraisal," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(8-9), pages 2207-2215, June.
    6. Susanne Menzel & Tom L. Green, 2013. "Sovereign Citizens and Constrained Consumers: Why Sustainability Requires Limits on Choice," Environmental Values, White Horse Press, vol. 22(1), pages 59-79, February.
    7. John Parkins, 2006. "De-centering environmental governance: A short history and analysis of democratic processes in the forest sector of Alberta, Canada," Policy Sciences, Springer, vol. 39(2), pages 183-202, June.
    8. Kristof van Assche & Sandra Bell & Petruta Teampau, 2012. "Traumatic Natures of the Swamp: Concepts of Nature in the Romanian Danube Delta," Environmental Values, White Horse Press, vol. 21(2), pages 163-183, May.
    9. Thomas Koetz & Katharine Farrell & Peter Bridgewater, 2012. "Building better science-policy interfaces for international environmental governance: assessing potential within the Intergovernmental Platform for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services," International Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 12(1), pages 1-21, March.
    10. Tim Forsyth, 2006. "Cooperative environmental governance and waste-to-energy technologies in Asia," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 4718, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.

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