Communities need to get involved. The other important thing that people need to remember . . . is that they probably know as much or maybe even more than some of the experts drafted in to view certain things. I know I get called into certain things . . . someone asks me about something they’ve been researching for a long time and they’ve put a lot of stuff together and quite often they know far more about it than I do, yet people will defer to me because I’ve done toxicology or something else. . . . I am increasingly impressed with what people can put together. 1
Whatever skills and forms of knowledge lay people may lose, they remain skilful and knowledgeable in the contexts of action in which their activities take place and which, in some part, those activities continually reconstitute. Everyday skill and knowledgeability thus stands in dialectical connection to the expropriating effects of abstract systems, continually reshaping the very impact of such systems on day-to-day existence. 2
In Chapter 4 we took a major step away from the conventional paradigm of ‘science and citizenship’. Rather than charting the apparent lack of public understanding, we found a more complex picture of social and technical interactions as they have operated within one local context. In this chapter, we need to build on this specific case in order to see whether it is indicative of a wider pattern of citizen response. Is it possible - as Beck’s analysis of the ‘risk society’ suggests 3 - that new relations of knowledge, science and citizenship are emerging within late modern society?
At least partly, we can consider that change is occurring as a