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From Consultation to Deliberation? A Qualitative Case Study of Governing Science and Technology Projects for the Public Good
Critical Public Health 22 (2) 235-251
December 2011 (Version of record first published December 2011)
The concept of ‘public consultation’ and the idea of ‘democratic deliberation’ describe different forms of engagement of various citizens and stakeholders in the governance of science and technology projects (STPs). On the one hand, public consultation is concerned with enhancing the quality of decisions through public understanding of a complex STP. On the other hand, democratic deliberation is concerned with taking quality decisions through communicative action and free argumentation between all parties affected. This article focuses on the STP of the UK Biobank, addressing the following question: which form of upstream engagement is required in governing the next phase of the UK Biobank for the public good of health? Drawing on political theory debates and qualitative evidence, it is argued that although ideal democratic governance of the (next phase of) UK Biobank requires transition from public consultation to democratic deliberation the latter faces practical limitations. Thus, deliberative engagement cannot be full in specific STPs for the public good of health.