Citizen Involvement in Public Policy-making: Does it Improve Democratic Legitimacy and Accountability? The Case of pTA

Gabriele ABELS
<span title="">2007</span> <i title="Graduate School of Information Sciences, Tohoku University"> <a target="_blank" rel="noopener" href="" style="color: black;">Interdisciplinary Information Sciences</a> </i> &nbsp;
In many policy areas demands for enhanced citizen participation have been met in the last twenty years or so. Recently, the participatory discourse has entered the till then highly expert-oriented debates over science and technology policy-making. In the field of technology assessment in particular, different types of participatory procedures have been developed that aim to include stakeholders, those directly affected and/or the general public at local, national, or even supranational level.
more &raquo; ... merous procedures have been employed-above all with regard to social conflicts over biotechnology-in many European countries, but also elsewhere in the world. The debate on participatory technology assessment (pTA) is influenced by an almost romanticising picture. Participatory procedures are believed to (1) increase the motivation of those involved, (2) enhance the knowledge and values basis of policy-making, (3) initiate a process of social learning, (4) open up opportunities for conflict resolution and achieving the common good, and (5) improve the level of acceptance and legitimacy of political decisions. A more direct relation between citizens and policy-makers shall foster democracy and accountability. I argue that these claims are based on a reductionism of what 'true' democracy is, i.e. deliberative democracy, whereas empirical research on the impacts of participatory procedures displays a more differentiated picture. Participatory procedures are still in an experimental stage; their linkages to the institutions of representative democracy vary from case to case and from country to country-and are, by and large, weak. Consequently, many procedures have, at best, a limited impact on the socio-technological conflict and its resolution. I claim that participatory procedures do not per se improve the democratic legitimacy and accountability of policy-making. In order to do so, their linkage to the political system has to be reconsidered and improved-empirically as well as conceptually.
<span class="external-identifiers"> <a target="_blank" rel="external noopener noreferrer" href="">doi:10.4036/iis.2007.103</a> <a target="_blank" rel="external noopener" href="">fatcat:st7zvhjw3zak5dzqt556b24zeq</a> </span>
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