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Publisher: Cardiff University
Languages: English
Types: Book
Subjects: H1
The science of genomics raises important questions about what it means to be a citizen in a scientific culture. Critics of genetics frequently point to public concern about genomics as a means of legitimating their own stance, whilst scientists and other proponents tend to see public opposition as based on, at best, partial information. In this paper, the complex and often contradictory rationales for public participation in debates about contested science are examined and the distinctions between engaged/un-engaged participants and expert/representative forums emphasised. The first distinction recognises the role played by experience and expertise in challenging technical arguments, whilst the second emphasises that debates about science and technology need are not solely matters of contested fact. Using these distinctions, the paper argues that the categories of ‘scientists’ and ‘the public’ need to be replaced by a more subtle differentiation between experts and citizens. The effect of this alternative terminology is to permit a more inclusive approach to the ‘technical’ whilst providing a positive role for the non-expert citizen in the democratic control of science policy.
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