Organising science policy : participation, learning & experimentation in British democracy

Pallett, Helen (2014) Organising science policy : participation, learning & experimentation in British democracy. Doctoral thesis, University of East Anglia.

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The incorporation of public participation into science policy processes has been an important feature of policy practice and the academic literature for more than two decades, yet it has failed to realise its democratising potential or to engender broader changes in organisational and political cultures. To understand this apparent paradox this thesis focuses on organisational changes and practices around public participation, thus transcending the conventional focus on individual participation processes which characterises much academic work on the topic. Given the apparent lack of learning from and about public participation in key science policy organisations, this thesis explores diverse processes and facets of organisational learning, reflection and reflexivity in and around Sciencewise, a UK Government-funded body, which is emblematic of emerging professionalised organisations of participation.
Drawing upon ethnographic and qualitative methods within a co-productionist idiom (Jasanoff 2004a), the thesis tells a number of stories about Sciencewise’s organisational learning processes during 2013; some are localised and specific, others identify more coherent shifts, and others draw connections between Sciencewise and broader political events. Diverse facets of organisational learning are explored from themes of spatiality, formal organisational mechanisms and organisational memory to non-knowledge, future imaginaries and processes of experimentation. It is argued that organisational learning cannot be understood without attention to the minutiae of everyday meetings and communications systems, or to broader political shifts like civil service reform. Despite the apparent rigidity of Sciencewise practices and discourses, there were significant instances of learning and change observed, resulting in shifting organisational categories, understandings and practices. These represent examples of more reflective and reflexive capacities within the programme. The thesis makes significant conceptual contributions to understandings of organisational learning, contributes empirical insights into the institutionalisation of participation in UK policy practice, and offers practical insights into the challenge of conducting engaged research and encouraging organisational reflexivity.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Science > School of Environmental Sciences
Depositing User: Jackie Webb
Date Deposited: 25 Jun 2015 15:37
Last Modified: 26 Jun 2015 10:40


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