Public participation and government ‘s scientific decision – taking the disputes caused by China’ s Px Project as an example

Author: Jian quan Ma – National Academy of Innovation Strategy CAST, China

As technology is more and more popular in public’s daily life, the scientific policy decision making become the burst point between the government and the public: if lack of public participation government decision-making will be taken as against modern democratic and political aspirations, but once intruduce public participation, the decision full of “science and technology” is easy to be questioned and even boycott by the “ignorant” public. The PX project decision-making process in China is a typical case. PX is a chemical product with wide range of use, it has little environmental pollution and security incidents, but it causes general disputes in different areas of China. Initially the government took the preparations underwater, exclude the public from the decision-making process, after several large-scale public opposition the government began to vigorously launch popular science campaigns of relevant knowledge, the public asked to participate in the decision-making process, but generally showed a desire to believe rumors rather than the government and scientists. From these PX events , we can see that the public on the one hand do not understand PX, on the other hand do not want to believe the interpretation of government and scientists, the public’s understanding of PX is not simply based on science, but also based on their experience knowledge and relationship knowledge. Based on these PX events cases in China since 2007, this paper will use the public understanding of science theory as the analytical framework, integrate of power legitimacy theory, risk society theory, trying to answer the following questions: First, how science become the cornerstone of the legitimacy of the government; second, why the authority of science is questioned by the public; third, how the public transform from the scientific passive recipients to scientific active participants.

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Presentation type: Individual paper
Theme: Society
Area of interest: Influencing policies through science communication