University of Lüneburg working paper series in economics 58
Recent discussions about the evolvement of nanotechnologies criticize that the notion 'risk' is too abstract and an all-inclusive category. Moreover, the concept of risk is not precise enough to describe the potential issues related to the development of nanotechnologies. Instead, experts of technological development speak more about risk communication. Within the field of nanotechnologies, they even redefined this expression in February 2005 and related it to the question of the societal acceptance of nanotechnologies. Risk communication is about to gain stakeholder acceptance of policy decisions, whereas public and stakeholders are encouraged to participate actively in the communication process through public consultations, hearings, etc. Thus on the one hand, the category of risk has been pragmatically nuanced in order to better highlight the vulnerability of the communication on nanotechnologies. On the other hand, this vulnerable communication is not the result of a deficit of information. It is based on the idea of participation, where the vulnerability relies on the social groups specialized in the design, the application, and the diffusion of nanotechnologies within society. How is this participation possible, and what does it mean? We develop this question in the framework of a comparative survey on experts that are involved in the deployment of nanotechnologies in Grenoble (France) and Hamburg (Germany).