Stephen Turner
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Publics, hybrids, transparency, monsters and the changing landscape around science
in Science and the politics of openness

Science is changing, rapidly, with respect to its relation to the public, to political and collective goals, and in terms of the organizational structures through which science works. The new forms are not completely unprecedented, because there were earlier periods and situations in which scientists reached out to stakeholders, and tried to engage with and understand publics and politicians in the course of trying to persuade them. But the variety and extent of these activities, and the innovative structures that have been produced, is unprecedented. This volume is a compilation of case studies and theoretical reflections on this new situation, for which there is no good language: the new creations are “monsters.” Openness and transparency is the supposed cure for this sense of the monstrous: it makes science less alien. We can tame these monsters by turning them into ordinary objects of expert knowledge, for example by making “risk” into the sort of thing that can be subjected to a bureaucratic regime, with a hybrid discipline of risk assessment with a special provision for public input. But in the end these devices create new monsters, which are as alien as the old ones.

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