Governing risk, engaging publics and engendering trust: New horizons for law and social science?

S. H. E. Harmon, G. Laurie, G. Haddow
2013 Science and Public Policy  
Modern biosciences require governance frameworks that are capable of simultaneously managing risk, coping with uncertainty, combatting ambivalence, and building trust, all the while encouraging the delivery of those instrumental outputs that we value/demand. This multi-dimensional task makes the design and delivery of good governance frameworks extremely difficult. Efforts to date have, by and large, failed, particularly where the law has been relied on. Preoccupation with risk has tended to
more » ... pe regulatory systems, but the conception of risk relied on is deficient, and its use is often oriented to support precautionary approaches in the absence of 'evidence'. Our collaborative efforts lead us to suggest that more robust mechanisms need to be deployed which reveal and promote interactions with a fuller gamut of risks, and that these must be seen as relative to the twin objective of both protecting and promoting the range of interests involved in any given technology endeavour. We do not argue that the law should be ignored, but that a reflexive mode of governance which is 'performed' in a manner reflective of the dynamic nature of science and which uses the law more effectively as a value-and institutionframing mechanism is demanded.
doi:10.1093/scipol/scs117 fatcat:rtbqrklwcrfkpbbd5dpxfogh6q