Participatory technology assessment: a response to technical modernity?
Science and Public Policy 26(1999)5, S. 303-312
This paper discusses the societal context of technology assessment and the reasons underlying recent calls for participation. Participatory technology assessment is analysed in the light of current sociological debate about 'uncertainty', and its functional role is considered in relation to public controversy and decision-making on science and technology. Three key questions are addressed: what are the reasons given for using participation in technology assessment processes? which features of modern society have prompted the increasing demands for participation in technology policy? and what role can participation be expected to play in modern, technological society? Participatory technology assessment, as a response to technological controversy, should be understood as a means of dealing, in creative and interactive ways, with the issue of (scientific, social, ethical) uncertainty at the heart of modern society.