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Participatory Technology Assessment And The “Institutional Void”: Investigating Democratic Theory And Representative Politics

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Chapter Summary

This chapter sheds some light on the programmatic debate on Participatory Technology Assessment (pTA) and its link to practical pTA. It discusses the implications for a more comprehensive institutional design that strengthens the linkage of pTA to representative politics. It then reasons that most of pTA literature limits itself to a particular strand in democratic theory only, i.e. participatory and deliberative democracy. The chapter argues that this shortcoming affects the adequate conceptualisation of empirical plethora of pTA instruments and procedures. Any theoretical conceptualisation of pTA has repercussions on future institutional design of pTA instruments. The 'institutional void' in which most pTA takes place today certainly puts severe constraints on its potential impacts. And this is certainly true not specifically for pTA, but also for innovative participatory procedures in other fields of public policymaking. It argues that pTA can and should develop institutionalized links to representative politics, i.e. fill the void.

Keywords: democratic theory; institutional void; participatory Technology Assessment (pTA); public policymaking; representative politics



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