Societies in Conflict: Experts, Publics and Democracy - Panels

8th International Interpretive Policy Analysis Conference (IPA) 2013:

Societies in Conflict: Experts, Publics and Democracy

à Vienne (Autriche) du 3 au 5 juillet 2013

Les panels sont ouverts aux chercheurs et aux praticiens. Vous êtes invités à proposer une contribution pour le :

Panel 15: Energy Transitions between Forms of Knowledge and Public Controversies: New Tools and Perspectives for the Analysis of Key Turning Points

Organizers:  Francis Chateauraynaud (GSPR, EHESS) et Markku Lehtonen (Sussex University) ;

Panel 36: Participatory Spaces: Facilitators, Experts, Rules and the Management of Dualities

Organizer:  Laurence de Carlo, professeure à l'ESSEC ;

Panel 37 : Participatory Turn and Scientific Controversies

Organizers: Pr. Jean-Gabriel Contamin, Professor in Political Science, Lille 2 University/CERAPS (Lille Center for European Research on Administration, Politics and Society) and Martine Revel, Research Engineer, Lille 2 University/CERAPS

E-mail :,

Rationale for the Panel 37 :

Since fifteen years, studies on participatory and deliberative democracy have multiplied in Occidental democracies. To cope with the limitations of representative systems, political regimes tend to introduce procedures in order to involve citizens in public decision-making Ordinary citizens have then been asked to give their opinion or even to decide about topics that affect their daily lives (deliberative poll, neighborhood councils, municipal councils for children), but also about collective public facilities (public inquiries) financial topics (participatory budgeting), and even about scientific or sociotechnical controversies (citizens'conferences, for instance).

Indeed, the field of science and technology has long been considered as the property of the few experts who were able to find the most efficient technical solutions and to share them with public policy makers. The intrusion of citizens in these controversies was therefore read as a mere obstacle to rationality that scientists had to overcome (Fischer, 2000 ; Pestre, 2011)

However a series of events and works have progressively challenged this supposedly impenetrable boundary between experts and ordinary citizens. The scientific field might be considered as a ‘normal’ world where interests compete and which, therefore, could be equally subject to a participatory imperative (Wynne, 1992; Callon and alii, 2001).

This questioning of the dissociation between the scientific field and the civic society has then resulted in a set of devices that provide citizens very different places in the relation between scientific expertise and public action : as source of the needs that science should respond (social demand) ; as taken into account through the theme of the social acceptability of science (through collective mobilizations, for instance) ; as subject and object of transformations initiated by scientists (sociological intervention) ; as represented by the researcher himself ; or as invited to contribute directly in 'collaborative researchs' (Hall, 2005) or in citizen’s conferences.

This panel will precisely aim to more broadly question how citizens might intervene in scientific controversies through participatory devices. It will then be an opportunity to make the link between science studies and studies on participatory democracy, wondering what questions, methods and tools developed in each of these sub-disciplines can be used for others, and how the specificities of the scientific field may limit these reciprocal crosses. To what extent and under what conditions citizens can be heard by policy makers in fields that at first seem only technical and scientific? What people? With what arguments? In what contexts and configurations? Towards which policy makers and which scientists? It will also be an opportunity to reflect on our own practices as researchers.

This session will finally be an opportunity to help organizing an international community of researchers working on these issues. It is based on a European project which questions the citizens’participation in research and should then give rise to panels in other international conferences (IPSA, ISA, ECPR) and to some publication in a Springer collection.

démocratie participation controverse scientifique STS dispositifs participatifs