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The Danish consensus conference model in Switzerland and France: on the importance of framing the issue (PLA 40)

Jacques Mirenowicz

Journal article

In Spring 1998, a Swiss and a French official institution each organised a national deliberative technology assessment (TA) procedure based on the model of the Danish consensus conference. In May 1998, the Swiss Center for TA organised a 'Publiforum' on 'Electricity and Society'. A month later, the French Office Parelementaire d'Evaluation des Choix Scientifiques et Technologiques (OPECST) organised a 'Conference de Citoyens' on 'Genetic modification in agriculture and food'. Despite differences in these two countries' democratic institutions and traditions, both OPECST and the Swiss Center for TA felt the model of the consensus conference could improve public debate on science and technology. However, in comparing the two initiatives, this article shows that the democratic content of consensus conferences is highly dependent on the initial framing of the issue.

This article was published in PLA 40: Deliberative Democracy and Citizen Empowerment (February 2001). Participatory Learning and Action (PLA, formerly PLA Notes) is the world's leading series on participatory learning and action approaches and methods. PLA publishes articles on participation aimed at practitioners, researchers, academics, students and activists. All articles are peer-reviewed by an international editorial board.

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