Changing perspectives - Analysing deliberative processes for the governance of science and technology
Due to the COVID-19 crisis the PhD defence of Mirjam Schuijff will take place (partly) online.
The PhD defence can be followed by a live stream.
Mirjam Schuijff is a PhD student in the research group Communication Science (CS). Her supervisors are prof.dr. M.D.T. de Jong and dr. A.M. Dijkstra from the Faculty of Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences (BMS).
Drawing on the frameworks of responsible research and innovation and deliberative democracy, this thesis contributes to the understanding of the role of small-scale deliberations for the governance processes of controversial science and technology. The thesis contains five studies. First, a literature review provides insights into the world-wide public attitudes to human enhancement technologies. Second, a focus group study explores the perspectives of Dutch participants on human enhancement technologies and the dynamics in those perspectives. Third, a literature review on practices of responsible research and innovation maps out four groups of approaches to the concept: opening up; stimulating reflection; anticipating ethical, legal, and social aspects; and institutionalisation and governance. The fourth study is a modified midstream modulation study that aims to catalyse responsible research and innovation. The final study uses Q methodology to uncover the perspectives on CRISPR-Cas9 in the Netherlands. The findings of the five studies indicate that small-scale deliberations provide an enriched understanding of the perspectives, preferences, and concerns of the participants and insight into the dynamics of those perspectives, which can differ from expert debates. This enriched insight can complement the governance processes and help governance actors to give all perspectives due consideration and to consider the needs and preferences of society in decision-making. Small-scale deliberations can also influence participants’ own views or lead to a better understanding of the perspective of other participants, which can be valuable in increasingly polarised societies.