Du Plessis Public engagement for good governance

Report
HUMAN AND SOCIAL DYNAMICS SEMINAR SERIES
DST/HSRC/ MISTRA
PUBLIC ENGAGEMENT FOR GOOD GOVERNANCE: THE ROLE OF
THE HUMANITIES
CSIR CONFERENCE CENTRE
11 MARCH 2015
DR HESTER DU PLESSIS, FACULTY HEAD: HUMANITY, MISTRA.
TOPIC: POLITICAL CHALLENGES OF PUBLIC ENGAGEMENT
“… the science engagement framework embraces a broad understanding
of ‘science’ or ‘the sciences’ and encompasses systematic knowledge
which includes natural sciences, engineering sciences, medical sciences,
agricultural sciences, social sciences and humanities, indigenous
sciences, technology, all aspects of the innovation chain and indigenous
technologies. Public Engagement requires not only awareness and
discussion of scientific or technical aspects of issues but also of the
societal and attitudinal aspects as well” (Science engagement Framework
Version 2 September 2013).
SCIENCE ENGAGEMENT FRAMEWORK: 7.4.2
To develop a critical public which actively engages and participates in the
national discourse on science and technology, thereby supporting the spirit of
our participative democracy.
We need to pay attention to two external factors:
1.
The persuasion of ideology in the conceptualization of democracy
and its impact on the public sphere.
2.
The post-colonial governance system in South Africa; illustrating the
difficulties in the democratic struggle for ideological freedom.
IDEOLOGICAL PERSPECTIVES
The persuasion of ideology in the conceptualization of
democracy and its impact on the public sphere.
The French Revolution left the legacy of three principles:
1. Social change is not something intrinsically objectionable,
but normal and desirable.
2. The proper institution to manage the course of social
change is the state.
3. States receive their legitimacy from an entity that can be
referred to as ‘the people’.
DIFFICULTIES IN THE DEMOCRATIC STRUGGLE FOR
IDEOLOGICAL FREEDOM.
Knowledge production shifted epistemological boundaries through an
evolution of complexity. There exists a remarkable coincidence between the
development of a more open system of knowledge production (Mode 2) and
the growth of complexity in society – and here chaos theory serves as
example (Helga Nowotny 2001)
European Commission’s Monitoring Policy and Research Activities on Science
in Society in Europe (MASIS) 2012 report (www.masis.eu) states:
“Discussions and processes relating to the appropriateness of science in
society should be inclusive and based on broad public and stakeholder
engagement” …since… “societal challenges can only be tackled if society is
fully engaged in science, technology and innovation and it should be stressed
that the dynamics of public and stakeholder engagement remains an
important object for further research and experimentations”.
PUBLIC ENGAGEMENT
1. Shift of epistemological boundaries through an evolution of
complexity.
2. Multitude of actions: ‘citizen involvement’, ‘stakeholder
engagement’, ‘participatory technology assessment’, ‘indigenous
people’s rights’, ‘local community consultation’, ‘NGO intervention’,
‘multi-stakeholder dialogue’, ‘access to information’ and ‘access to
justice’.
Three priority conditions underpinning public participation:
•
Access to information,
•
Participation in decision-making and
•
Judicial redress (where necessary).
PUBLIC ENGAGEMENT FOR GOOD GOVERNANCE
Improved governance and the empowerment of citizens are often quoted as
main reasons for public engagement and participation activities, but also for a
range of other reasons:
• To provide a platform and meeting place for discussion and debate between
the public and researchers.
• To facilitate mutual learning between public and researchers.
• To identify public needs and concerns.
• To merge citizens’ values and opinions with the expertise of scientists, to
create an increased acceptance and research agendas that are both
scientifically interesting and socially robust.
THE BROKEN SOCIAL COMPACT AND THE PHILOSOPHY OF DEFIANCE: A
HUMANITY PERSPECTIVE
“… the word resistance resonated in my desire and my
imagination as the most beautiful word in the politics and history
of this country, this word loaded with all the pathos of my
nostalgia, as if, at any cost, I would like not to have missed
blowing up trains, tanks and headquarters between 1940 and
1945 – why and how did it come to attract, like a magnet, so
many other meanings, virtues, semantic or disseminal changes”
Jacques Derrida (1998:2) .
“ … look, if there was no resistance there would be no relations of
power. Because everything would be simply a question of
obedience. From the moment an individual is in the situation of
not doing what they want, they must use relations of power.
Resistance thus becomes first, it remains above all the forces of
process, under its effect it obliges relations of power to change. I
thus consider the term resistance to be the most important word,
the key word of this dynamic” Michel Foucault (2001:1559-60) .
DEFIANCE AND RESISTANCE = SOCIAL UPRISINGS
In order for individuals to choose between different opinions and
options three factors are required for citizen participation in politics:
• resources (time, funds and civil skills),
• a psychological engagement that requires and interest in politics
including concern with public issues and membership in a group
with shared political interests;
• and recruiting networks through which citizens are politically
mobilised”( Brady et all 1995)
IMPROVED GOVERNANCE AND THE EMPOWERMENT OF CITIZENS
Improved governance and the empowerment of citizens are often
quoted as main reasons for public engagement and participation
activities, but also for a range of other reasons:
• To provide a platform and meeting place for discussion and
debate between the public and researchers.
• To facilitate mutual learning between public and researchers.
• To identify public needs and concerns.
• To merge citizens’ values and opinions with the expertise of
scientists, to create an increased acceptance and research
agendas that are both scientifically interesting and socially robust
(Jan Riise 2012:284).
WARNING: SOUTH AFRICA
• South Africa has been called the ‘protest capital of the world’. With
122 violent protest marches over the past 3 months it is sometimes
easy to forget that violent resistance has been part of the African
National Congress’s (ANC) strategy of rending the Apartheid regime
ungovernable and remain embedded in the political culture of the
ANC (David Bruce 14 February 2014 in the Mail and Guardian).
• Most grievances are around service delivery and in particular around
land, housing and municipal services (water and electricity).
Government corruption, lack of consultation by government,
rampant crime, unemployment, policy brutality and low wages are
listed as the lead causes of protests. Police statistics shows 8,000 to
11,000 ‘crowd control’ actions per year between 2004 and 2012.
These protests are the political manifestation of some 27 million
people in South Africa living off R799 or less per month.
TWO STRATEGIC ISSUES FOR CONSIDERATION TO DEMOCRATISE THE
ROLE OF SCIENCE COMMUNICATION:
1. Understanding the persuasion of ideology in the
conceptualization of democracy and its impact on the public
sphere.
2. Investigate the obstacles within the post-colonial democratic
governance system in South Africa to assist is in illustrating the
differences between a struggle for democracy and ideology.
We need to understand the kind of ideology we are talking about.
In this regard ample examples exist within Africa of efforts to
follow specific political ideologies in efforts to ‘decolonise’ Africa.
For example, numerous efforts were made to institute an African
socialism which manifested in many forms through the past
decades. We find that the African ideological spectrum ranges
from a “… more or less pure Marxism-Leninism to populist ideas
rather similar to the Russian narodiks or Gandhi in India, as well
as nationalist ideology (Fanon, Cabral)” (Hettne, 1995:85)
SO WHERE TO NOW?
In an atmosphere of anger and discontent, the science museums,
science journalism, science reporting though conferences and
workshops and science communication engagements with the public is
most probably ineffectual and futile.
Across the globe millions are homeless and hungry and science seems
to be unable to solve many of the basic problems. Given a choice, will
these millions of people wait for science to assist or will they rely on
common sense?
Scientists’ engagement with the public is turning into: the public
engagement with the scientists.
THANK YOU

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