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On constructive technology assessment and limitations on public participation in technology assessment

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Audley Genus



The paper reviews selected literature on the theory and practice of constructive technology assessment (CTA), which represents a promising approach for managing technology through society. CTA emphasises the involvement and interaction of diverse participants to facilitate 'upstream' (or anticipatory) learning about possible impacts of technology and socially robust decision-making. The paper seeks to identify limitations of CTA, as these relate to the broadening of debate about nascent, controversial technology. In particular, it considers the relevance of CTA to the achievement of more democratic decision-making about technology. In addition, the paper directs attention towards differences in participants' discursive capacities and rhetorical skills that may affect the role and contribution of non-expert citizens in technology assessment. The paper draws upon the debate between Habermas and Foucault to suggest promising avenues for future research based on technology assessment conceptualised as discourse. It concludes that the theory and practice of CTA may be improved by addressing explicitly possible structural limitations on the broadening of debate, whilst invoking a notion of technology assessment as discourse to point up cultural, subjective or cognitive limitations on agency.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Genus AT, Coles A-M

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Technology Analysis & Strategic Management

Year: 2005

Volume: 17

Issue: 4

Pages: 433-443

Print publication date: 01/12/2005

Date deposited: 10/12/2007

ISSN (print): 0953-7325

ISSN (electronic): 1465-3990

Publisher: Routledge


DOI: 10.1080/09537320500357251


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