For the last years we have been involved in research projects related to citizen participation in public technoscientific controversies as well as policies and services for dependency care in Spain. Such researches indicate changes in the form that Spanish society perceives the role of science and technology in the daily lives of citizens and show the implications of expert knowledge and technical devices in ageing, identity construction, social organisation and institutions. The constitution and proliferation of hybrid assemblies mixing lay people and experts in order to solve public controversies has become a common feature of our societies. Such hybrid forums can take place as an institutional (“top-down”) initiative, promoting participatory mechanisms such as public consultation and consensus conferences, or as social mobilization (“bottom-up”) actions, as for example, those of concerned groups that call for greater participation in the definition of social care policies.
In this context, this project aims to analyze the reality and political action of the concerned groups involved in the promotion of independent living in Spain.
More specifically our aims are:
- to map these groups’ reality in Spain;
- to identify the processes of hybridization of knowledge and expertise entailed in these mobilizations;
- to assess and compare the different political outcomes resulting from the different strategies of mobilization;
- to find out the effects on the processes of collective identity production that these strategies have;
- to evaluate the pros and cons of these forms of political intervention;
- to develop forms of engagement and collaboration with the concerned groups that may help individuals, organizations, or other actors to participate in and improve independent living policies and services.
The project is part of a wider project that aims to compare the mechanisms of participation with the processes of mobilization by experiencing and analyzing the formation of hybrids forums of experts and non-experts on issues relating to collectives with difficulties to express their voice in the public arena. The combination of these two dimensions will offer a general diagnostic on participatory experiences and mobilisations of concerned groups in Spain. It will reveal the strengths and weakness of both processes, as well as the potential of each one for the hybridization of knowledge.