When Public and Science Form a Community of Practice – Organizing Participation in Technology Development in a German Mining Region

Wednesday, 13 July 2016: 10:45
Location: Hörsaal 6A P (Neues Institutsgebäude (NIG))
Oral Presentation
Alena BLEICHER, Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research - UFZ, Germany
Magdalena WALLKAMM, Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research - UFZ, Germany
Martin DAVID, Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research - UFZ, Leipzig, Germany
In the last decades many scholars in STS have identified a loss of trust in scientific expertise and an erosion of authority of scientific institutions. Based on this diagnosis a rethinking of the relationship of science and society as well as a democratization of expertise has been required.

However, more recently the diagnosis of lost trust in science recently has been criticized by several authors. Within this presentation we will take an example in which trust in science is still high and explore the relationship of local experts, scientists, and engineers in the context of projects for developing innovative technologies, notably deep geothermal energy technology and technologies for secondary mining.

Taking the example of a former mining region in Germany we will show how the acknowledgement of scientific authority is rooted in social structures and ask how this hampers or facilitates democratic involvement of none scientific expertise in scientific knowledge production. More precisely we will exploit how local expertise in mining technologies and practices of research and technology development interact. We will show that none scientific experts and scientists form a community of practice and how this community hampers involvement of expertise beyond mining expertise. Thereby we will shed light on the role of coalitions between citizens’ experts und scientists, of hierarchical social structures, of shared understanding of the roles of science and public, as well as on processes of evaluating knowledge of local experts by scientists. Several mechanisms of boundary drawing will be revealed.

Theoretically our work will employ the idea of community of practices and try to make a fruitful contribution to the politics of science and technology.