Event Name Making space for the political in Responsible Research and Innovation
Start Date 18th Sep 2017 3:30pm
End Date 18th Sep 2017 5:00pm
Duration 1 hour and 30 minutes


Science and Technology Studies (STS) has gone through a “deliberative turn” (Carrozza 2015) in recent years, producing research and analysis calling for the democratization of expertise in public decision-making. While many aspects of this have been fiercely debated – from who holds expertise to how different kinds of knowledge can be accommodated – discussions of the democratic model underlying this work are fewer and farther between (see Durant 2011; van Oudheusden 2014). Deliberative democracy has quietly become the basis for many STS scholars’ approaches to decision-making processes. Yet, there is much to question and critique in this idealized model seeking rational, moral consensus.

In this talk, I examine how work on Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) has been implicitly (and sometimes explicitly) modelled on deliberative democracy. RRI envisions coupling anticipation, reflection and inclusive deliberation to policy and decision-making processes (Owen et al. 2012). It promises a new approach to politics in an era of emerging science and technology, but I argue that RRI’s grounding in deliberative democracy limits its impact and makes it vulnerable to depoliticization. How could we use the space opened up by RRI differently? What could decision-making on emerging technosciences look like following an agonistic model of democracy?

Bio: Deborah Scott is a Research Fellow at the University of Edinburgh in Science, Technology and Innovation Studies. Trained in human geography and law, she is part of the “Engineering Life” project investigating the movement of ideas, practices and promises from engineering to the life sciences.