During the first live session for the Collaborative Exploration case about making an e-trail on the Democratic control of science (http://sicw.wikispaces.com/CEFeb14), the meaning of the term “democratic” arose. This has led me along two paths:
a) reviewing the assumptions I carry over from the period of my political and scientific formation in the early 1970s:
Historical and autobiographical origins of an ongoing project on scientific and social complexity,
which includes a note (with references) on The critique of science during the 1970s
b) clarifying what I am thinking these days:
Democratic influence on (not so much “control” of) science consists, for me, of three aspects:
- Exposing multiple points of engagement at which the course of development of a particular (or local) situation involving science could be modified (e.g., mapping, heterogeneous construction, strategic participatory planning, …);
- Paying critical (as against fatalistic) attention to trans-local trends and decisions, such as those made in governments and corporations operating on a larger spatial and temporal arena that the particular situations (e.g., consolidation of animal production, which Wallace shows increases the possibility of human pandemics); and
- Linking people making the various engagements in #1 and doing so in a way that allows them to take into account the linkages between the trans-local trends and decisions of #2 and the development of particular situations involving science in #1 –even better, to push back against the trans-local decisions (see post on “transversal engagement“).
Many questions arise: Who is pursuing all three aspects? How is this done? When is it effective? How does a democratically inclined person find their best entry point for engagement?