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Science in the democratic process: the euro in the UK General Election

Evans, Robert 2003. Science in the democratic process: the euro in the UK General Election. [Working Paper]. School of Social Sciences Working Papers Series, vol. 33. Cardiff: Cardiff University.

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The idea that increasing participation leads to wider debate, deeper scrutiny and more robust decisions underpins much of the modern policy agenda for dealing with questions that combine contested science with complex value judgement. In this paper, the aim is not to argue against the principle of increasing participation but to ask how its implementation can bring about the benefits claimed for it. The paper explores the tension between increasing participation and promoting dialogue and learning by examining the discussion of the single european currency during the UK Election in 2001. Although the decision about UK membership the single currency will ultimately be taken in a referendum the election, in which the Conservative Party attempted to make the euro a major issue, provides an ideal case study through which to identify the problems created by democratisating such a decision. Their failure to do so, however, shows even major political parties can struggle to get their views into the public sphere when decision making becomes democratised. If a similar pattern emerges during any referendum on the single european currency, the consequence will be that increasing participation in this decision may, paradoxically, decrease the range of views that are articulated in public debate. More generally, it suggests that policy initiatives that draw on the public understanding of science literature need to respond not just to the public’s capacity to evaluate knowledge claims but their access to such arguments in the first place.

Item Type: Monograph (Working Paper)
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Social Sciences (Includes Criminology and Education)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Publisher: Cardiff University
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 30 March 2016
Last Modified: 08 Oct 2015 13:51

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