Participatory Technology Assessment (pTA) initiatives have usually been analyzed as if they existed in a social and political vacuum. This article analyzes the linkages that occur, in both directions, between the microcosm set up by a pTA exercise and the real world outside. This dual-dynamics perspective leads to a new way of understanding the function and significance of pTA initiatives. Rather than viewing them as a means to create the ideal conditions for real public debate, they are viewed here as an additional public arena in which sociotechnical controversies are played out. This perspective is developed from the analysis of an interactive technology assessment exercise conducted by the French National Institute for Agricultural Research, on the topic of genetically modified vines.
- Technology assessment