9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN12 Environment and Society

2009-09-05 13:30:00 2009-09-05 15:00:00 Saturday, 5 September 13:30 - 15:00 Science, Environment and the Public Building I, Auditório J.J. Laginha

Assessing Joint Knowledge

Participation in the context of decision-making on complex issues and, in particular, in the face of sustainability issues, environmental and technological uncertainty or risk, is often presented as a "must" because of its benefits in terms of legitimacy and acceptance. Most prescriptive literature focussing on issues such as process design and deliberation techniques, does pay abundant attention to interest representation and representativeness of participants in terms of interests and values, but tends to touch only marginally upon the cognitive, knowledge generating dimension of participation. In light of the changing relationship between science and society described by scholars such as Functowicz and Ravetz, Gibbons, Nowotny or Jasanoff, we think there is a clear need to investigate whether and how "joint knowledge production" contributes to creating a better and more advanced understanding of environmental and sustainability issues. Our planned for research aims at developing an assessment methodology in which objectives, criteria and procedures for measuring cognitive impact are discussed. This methodology will be developed inductively, based on the analysis of three cases related to human bio-monitoring, nanotechnology and nuclear waste disposal: real life experiments concerning participation in environmental and sustainability issues. By identifying bottle necks and factors fostering joint knowledge production, we hope to provide recommendations for use in real knowledge production processes. In fact, the feasibility of an assessment methodology is today still an open ended question, therefore we are looking forward to discuss these research intentions with colleagues at the ESA conference.