Call for Abstracts: “Democracy and TA. Practical issues and conceptual consequences”

TATuP-special topic in issue 3/2020. Deadline for submitting your abstract: 28 February 2020

Technology assessment (TA) was established more than 50 years ago to support democratic opinion formation and decision making. The idea of a societal development influenced by “technical constraints” should be overcome by a scientifically reflected analysis of preconditions, fields of conflict, and impacts of technologization processes. A policy supposedly “without alternative” should be replaced by a policy providing different options for action that could be subject to debate and decision making in democratic processes. Since that time, TA has developed and diversified in democratically constituted societies, especially towards participation and inclusion. Four developments give reason to put the relation between democracy and TA in the focus of a TATuP special topic:

  • All over the world, the assessment of technology impacts is also relevant for countries whose traditions and forms of government are far away from western democratic ideals;
  • populist movements and authoritarian politicians experience sometimes considerable increases in popularity in almost all western countries, so people often talk about a crisis of western democracy;
  • digitalization allows for new communication and mobilization patterns far from traditional forms of democratic decision-making processes;
  • at the local or national level, grass-roots and participative negotiations are becoming more and more relevant for the acceptance of new or obsolescent technologies. There is a conflict in the relationship to the attempts of democratic legitimization of global mechanisms and institutions of negotiations for global impacts of technology.

 Expected contributions

Traditional forms of policy-advising and participative TA reach their limits here. Against this background, we invite you to hand in conceptual/theoretical analyses of the current situation in the relationship between democracy and TA as well as empirical case studies in this field. In both categories, perspectives for the further development of TA should be identified.

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Guest editors of this TATuP special topic: Armin Grunwald (ITAS, KIT); Thomas Saretzki (University Lüneburg)