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Engaging Across Boundaries-Emerging Practices in 'Technical Democracy'


This special issue examines strategies for public engagement in science and technology issues in Australia, Japan and Aotearoa/New Zealand. It traverses issues relating to new energy technologies, food nanotechnology, the environmental impacts of dioxins, toxic waste disposal, genetic modification and the way scientists engage with the social dimensions of new biotechnologies. The papers look critically at engagement across scientist/non-scientist boundaries and explore how these boundaries are confounded and reworked in particular contexts. This is an increasingly popular theme in Science, Technology and Society studies. So what distinguishes these six papers from Australia, Japan and New Zealand? First, they are situated in the Asia-Pacific, a region that has not traditionally featured in international STS knowledge production and where theoretical perspectives and methods have until recently been clearly dominated by North American and European thinking. It is a research community in which STS scholarship and cross-national linkages are rapidly developing. Second, the papers are the outcome of the Towards STS Networking in the Asia-Pacific Workshop, held in Wellington, Aotearoa/New Zealand on 3–5 December.

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