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Revisiting "upstream public engagement" in nanotechnologies : from the perspective of the public sphere

Abstract : This dissertation contributes to the discussions of the notion 'upstream public engagement', which has been actively advocated by STS scholars in addressing nanotechnologies since the beginning of the twenty-first century. One of the major criticisms of 'upstream public engagement'is its lack of a link with the political system. Drawing on theoretical tools provided by Habermas, this dissertation seeks to examine such a 'link'with a specific focus on the capacity of civil society organizations (CSOs) to distill, raise and transmit societal concerns in an amplified form to the public spheres. Previous literature has mostly included theoretical reflection or one-off case studies, and research based on long-term observations is scant. Based on content analysis and semi-structured interviews with relevant actors, this dissertation investigates whether and how upstream public engagement could contribute to more vibrant public spheres and facilitate the formation of communicative power. The answer to these questions is twofold: on the one hand, moving public engagement 'upstream' enables CSOs to be better informed and to become part of the debates more quickly. Most CSOs employ cooperative, argumentative, and expertise-based forms of involvement. On the other hand,'upstream pubic engagement'has turned out to be unsuccessful in generating substantial and sustained interest, as some CSOs have quit this field in frustration at the tokenistic engagement.
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Xi Wang. Revisiting "upstream public engagement" in nanotechnologies : from the perspective of the public sphere. Library and information sciences. Université Paul Sabatier - Toulouse III, 2015. English. ⟨NNT : 2015TOU30249⟩. ⟨tel-01407252⟩

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