9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN24 Science and Technology

2009-09-05 11:00:00 2009-09-05 12:30:00 Saturday, 5 September 11:00 - 12:30 Emerging Technologies Building AA, AA.225

Embodied Narratives, Participation and Peformance in Emergent Technologies: Debating Nanotehcnology

The development of emerging sciences and technologies, such as nanosciences and nanotechnologies, has led to the proliferation of promissory notes and scenarios for the future. Unlike the case of other technologies, such as biotechnologies, which were "put into politics" and brought to public debate after they had been developed and made available, there is a widely shared concern that these emerging technologies be subject to public discussion regarding the priorities of research, the directions of their development, the concerns over their possible risks and the hopes regarding their benefits at early stages of research and development. This debate calls for the creation of spaces incorporating citizens, their concerns and diverse ethical conceptions, experiences and knowledges. Conversely, the organization of such spaces must take into account new challenges and issues raised by the specificities of nanosciences and nanotechnologies.
As part of the European project DEEPEN (Deepening Ethical Engagement and Participation in Emerging Nanotechnologies), exploratory methodologies for citizen involvement in debate on the possible trajectories of these technologies were rehearsed. A variant of the focus group technique, conceived as a collective learning exercise, inspired by Paulo Freire, and complemented by a performative exercise incorporating tools from Augusto Boal's forum theatre, allowed "matters of concern" to emerge. In a second moment of the project, a deliberative forum was organized, bringing together a heterogeneous range of actors and modes of knowledge production, including citizens, nanoscientists and social scientists. This paper is a preliminary account of the outcomes of these two moments, as well as a discussion of the epistemological, methodological and conceptual implications of these procedures as tools for the democratization of science and technology policies.