Introduction: Public Participation in Science and Technology in East Asia
- East Asian Science, Technology and Society: an International Journal
- Duke University Press
- Volume 1, Number 1, December 2007
- pp. 15-18
- Additional Information
Introduction: Public Participation in Science and Technology in East Asia Dung-sheng Chen & Chia-Ling Wu Published online: 1 December 2007 # National Science Council, Taiwan 2007 In the recent history of democracy, East Asian countries have tried vigorously to consolidate their democratic foundation, and to implement new practices of public participations to create strong civil societies. Such efforts extend to the field of science and technology policy-making, which has been dominated by elites and experts, but has now become the touchstone to examine the depth of democratization . This special issue shows how STS scholars from Japan, Taiwan and our Western counterparts approach public participation of science and technology. The three research articles and Brian Wynne’s critical commentary collectively demonstrate the diversity of cases, methods and theoretical perspectives in this important field, and we hope this special issue opens up more room for further intellectual adventure. For the past few years, public participation in science and technology has been a highlight of East Asian STS conferences or workshops, held in Taipei, Seoul, Tokyo, Kobe or Shenyang. Scholars present various cases, from how communities are involved with environmental controversies in Korea, to how labor workers challenge “bad epidemiology” preventing them from asking for health compensation in Taiwan, to how amateur designers create alternative computer games in Japan. The article by Juraku, Suzuki and Sakura in this special issue adds interesting findings to this group of publications, and demonstrates how specific Japanese local contexts lead to particular ways of mobilization toward techno scientific controversy like the sitting of nuclear power plant. Equally impressively, some formalized participatory methods, like consensus conference, citizen jury and deliberative polls, have often been the focus of STS scrutiny, attracting much discussion and debate. Among them, the consensus conference, innovated by the Danish Board of Technology in the East Asian Science, Technology and Society: an International Journal (2007) 1:15–18 DOI 10.1007/s12280-007-9005-6 D.-s. Chen :C.-L. Wu (*) Department of Sociology, National Taiwan University, Taipei, Taiwan e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org D.-s. Chen e-mail: email@example.com 1980s, has been most enthusiastically adopted by Korea, Japan and Taiwan in the past decade as an important way to democratize science and technology policymaking . Chen and Deng’s article in this special issue examines how lay participants interact with experts in two consensus conferences in Taiwan, on surrogate motherhood and prenatal testing, respectively. The diverse but converge links to the efforts to promote consensus conference among the East Asian societies would serve as a showcase to exhibit East Asian STS community’s shared agenda as well as dilemma. Therefore, let us briefly tell the story of how the ideas and practices of consensus conference and other deliberative methods travel to and among East Asia, as a window to observe the recent trend and reflection in public participation. When the ideas and practices of deliberative democracy became mature in 1980s in the Western societies, they developed sophisticated methods of public participation such as consensus conference, scenario workshop, citizen jury, and deliberative polls. South Korea is the first country in East Asia to implement a pilot project of consensus conference in 1998 to discuss safety and ethics of Genetically Modified (GMO) food. In the next year, Professor Hwan-Suk Kim, a sociologist from Kookming University as well as a leading activist of the People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy, a social movement organization, gained support from the Korean National Commission for UNESCO (KNCU) to organize the second consensus conference. The issue for the conference was on cloning, which was very popular in Korea because of the duplication of a cow by the well-known scientist, Dr. Woo-Suk Hwang (Kim 2002). The KNCU appointed Professor Kim as the project manager of the conference. He had visited the Danish Board of Technology in the early 1990s to learn both the basic principle of deliberative democracy and detailed procedures of different public participation practices, invented by this Danish institution. STS scholars in Korea also promote consensus conference to community level (Lee 2004) and explore other deliberative methods such as citizen jury (Cho 2005). Also in the 1990s, Dr. Yukio Wakamatsu from Tokyo Denki University...