Public Engagement in Responsible Research and Innovation. A Critical Reflection from the Practitioner’s Point of View✎
This dissertation deals with the concept of Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI), with a focus on Public Engagement as one of its main dimensions and the roles identified within. By undertaking a broad review of the related literature as well as an empirical study, this work investigates problems of practical implementation. It describes origins and developments of Public Engagement in research and innovation and closes with options for future direction.
Part 1 begins with a look back on the changing relationship of science and society as it has evolved over time (Chapter 3 — Science and Society). It shows how societal concerns have increasingly gained importance for science and research and how roles and attitudes have changed accordingly. It describes this participatory turn towards new forms of science and research governance and explains the rise of the normative concept of Responsible Research and Innovation at its present stage.
Chapter 4 — The RRI Concept in Brief — introduces the theoretical concept of RRI. As there is no standard definition or understanding of the concept, the chapter shows some of the more
commonly used understandings and main elements of Responsible Research and Innovation. The chapter also gives an overview of current interpretations and their connection to other concepts. Public Engagement is more than just one of the six key dimensions of the RRI concept. Chapter 5 — The Importance of Public Engagement within the RRI Concept — describes how Public Engagement can be regarded as the core dimension of RRI and how it
reflects the actual trend of the democratisation of science. To be able to understand Public Engagement and its main requirements, Chapter 6 — Participation — is dedicated to describing
the approach of participation in general. It gives an overview of understandings, offers concepts for classification and different theoretical backgrounds on which the idea of Public Engagement
in RRI could rely on.
Chapter 7 — Reflective Practices for Responsible Research and Innovation –shows how reflexivity as a requirement of modern society is embedded in the RRI concept. It explains which role Public Engagement could play to question and reflect on actual findings or trends in research and innovation and also to contribute to finding alternative approaches. Public Engagement in research and innovation can already look back at decades of experience and it has become even more popular these days as actual trends in the relation of science and society have previously shown. Much critique and difficulties, however, have been formulated since the beginning as well. Based on a literature review Chapter 8 — Public Engagement in Research and Innovation — looks at the current situation of Public Engagement in research and innovation practices and compiles a variety of different perspectives and critiques. With the description of as many aspects as possible, it offers a broad assessment on the field.
The subchapters describe the main challenges as they occurred within the literature study. At the end of the chapter, a summary of recommendations are provided for consideration if Public Engagement processes intend to be applied.
The empirical work of Part 2 gives an overview and a general description of the applied methodologies. Chapter 9 also contains detailed descriptions of the data collection and analysis process.
Part 3 comprises results obtained in the course of writing this work. Chapter 10 contains narrative descriptions of results of the empirical work. Subchapters are structured according to the outcomes which emerged from the data analysis. Chapter 10.1 describes the general discourse of Public Engagement in research and innovation and shows its main components. Chapter 10.2 presents the central role of practitioners identified within the discourse and
chapter 10.3 encompasses suggestions and recommendations for Public Engagement processes as uncovered in the empirical material.
In chapter 11 — Conclusions — empirical results are related to findings of the literature review of chapter 8 to show where and how actual critiques could have been confirmed and where they
could have been enriched with more details. It also summarises further aspects to be considered.
The closing chapter 12 describes consequences that could be obtained from the results presented in the previous chapter. It raises issues and open questions on Public Engagement in Responsible Research and Innovation which would need extra attention.