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Vol 7 - Issue 4

Technology and Innovation

List of Articles

’Science in society’: how to cooperate and do research differently?

Our societies are faced with major societal challenges alongside a growing awareness of these issues through various citizen initiatives. Taking this perspective seriously implies thinking about the required transformations in the form of non-performant processes. Citizen participation is clearly invoked at the level of public research policies. The social sciences can benefit from pragmatic and socio-constructivist approaches for the development of participation methodologies, based on the premise of egalitarian cooperation between the stakeholders of a research collective. This special issue deepens the methodological frameworks of participatory action research based on three criteria: identified places, specific temporalities and positions of cooperation. This survey is an extension of new forms of open and/or responsible research and innovation, with explicit reference to joint work with civil society on the themes related to socio-ecological transition.

The renewal of Science Shops in practice and in theory: with a focus on two territorialized platforms at the Science-Society crossroads

Sciences Shops, which disappeared in the 1980s, reappeared in the French research landscape in the 2010s. Promoted by those in France who supported their development as a network at an international level, today they are part of a context of change in Science-Society relations. Stuck between a "social demand" for the resolution of complex problems and the scientific community, which is supposed to be able to respond to these demands, we note that there is a need to renew the place as well as the role of science in the face of current socio-environmental issues. Science Shops thus bring together the development of joint projects between researchers, civil society organizations and sometimes students. This support is divided into three operational categories that illustrate the current renewal of Science Shops: intermediation, co-construction and incubation. This article is based on two case studies. They describe the trajectories and operating methods of the Science Shop in Lyon, and the Trait d’Union mechanism in Montpellier. This comparison focuses on the modes of governance, the modalities for receiving collaboration requests and the incubation of the co-construction phases of supported participatory projects. An analysis of the impact of these mechanisms on field actors, researchers and students is also
given. This reflection allows us to question the contribution of Science Shops to the transformation of the relationship between science and society and feeds the debates that are currently taking place on the epistemological, ethical, political and economic dimensions of scientific research as well as on the space that should be given to participatory research. Finally, the article questions the support methods necessary for the perpetuation and development of these types of territorial interfaces, which are still very precarious today.

PartiCitaE: history and lessons from a step-by-step experiment

This article presents the considerations and experiments leading to the launch of PartiCitaE, a participatory observatory on the urban environment. A foreshadowing study, composed of a questionnaire and participatory meetings, was carried out in 2016. It guided us to organize PartiCitaE along three axes: urban atmosphere, living city and living in the city. This inquiry also identified air quality and urban soils as major interests and thus helped us to develop projects on these topics. The success or failure of these projects has fueled reflection on the step-by-step co-construction of projects with city dwellers, making it the hallmark of PartiCitaE. We believe that the way the team positioned itself encouraged the strong and transformative involvement of volunteers, which has resulted in the proposal and implementation of new projects beyond the framework of PartiCitaE.

Elusive Lambda. Co-construction and cooperation of skills in a forest participation project

Who can claim the status of an "ordinary citizen" in a participatory process? What are the expectations of the actors – scientific, political or others – who call upon it? Under what conditions can individuals embody it and what effects can they have on their skills or on the recognition and valorization of these skills? We address these questions in a reflexive way, through an a posteriori analysis of a participatory action research experience set up in the framework of a transdisciplinary research project. Our approach is based on a logic of dynamic, relational, situated and distributed competences between the mobilised citizens and the other actors of the project, including the researchers. In a territory marked by a long tradition of environmental management entrusted to an administration supported by scientific experts, an innovative participation mechanism is invoked to co-construct a vision of the sustainable management of a forest territory nourished by citizen proposals. We analyze the different stages of this participatory project, from the selection of a mini-public by drawing lots, to the deliberation of the result of their work, through the gradual constitution of the citizens as an informed collective likely to use its legitimacy to modify the balances and games of actors on the territory.

Supporting the participation of people living in poverty under the governance of a participatory action research (PAR) project: challenges and lessons learned from a research project on food autonomy

The practices used to support people living in poverty who are participating as co-researchers in a participatory action research (PAR) project have been little documented. After presenting the framework for carrying out a PAR on food security, we discuss the significant challenges encountered in sustaining the participation of the most marginalized people, beyond the alibi role to which they are too often confined, including the creation of bonds of trust, the development of a shared vision, the identification of constraints to participation, and the consideration of power relations. We present action strategies developed based on a guide co-constructed by our research team. We suggest ways to promote the deployment of participatory practices in the governance of research projects.

The SPINCOOP participatory action research: on the cooperation between market gardeners and researchers in adapting the SPIN Farming model in Brussels

Participatory action research (PAR) provides an epistemological framework to apprehend complex transversal problems that require one to work with local stakeholders. Drawing on the description and analysis of the SPINCOOP project, this paper seeks to provide insight into the processes involved in building the partnership and in producing knowledge, as well as insight into ways to translate these in a PAR study. SPINCOOP was implemented between 2015 and 2018 with two urban neo-farmers. The project addresses the viability of urban market gardening initiatives by contrasting the aspirations of neo-farmers and the modalities of their implementation in the context of Brussels. The paper thus tells the co-creative research story of SPINCOOP in three phases: (i) the co-creation of partnership and the problem around a systemic vision of viability; (ii) the co-production of knowledge through the continuous adaptation of methodological frameworks, illustrated with strategies to access land; and (iii) the appropriation of the knowledge co-produced by stakeholders both within and beyond the project. This paper thus details a reflexive look at the difficulties of PAR and the delicate balance between research and action and on the influences of the institutional context that is embedded in any PAR project. In the case of PAR aiming at a long-term transition towards sustainability in an urban setting, the SPINCOOP experience underlines the necessary change of attitude. This change of attitude not only concerns the co-researchers but is also required for research funding agencies to rise above the inherent paradoxes of the short-term nature and constraining conditions of project funding.

The “Growing up with Nature” PAR (participatory action research) project: Towards an education and research learning partnership

This paper presents and models the co-built knowledge and practice process in participatory action research in the field of Sciences of Education and Training: the « Growing up with Nature » PAR project. This research studies the effects of outdoor education on children and on adults, in their school environment according to practice and space. Furthered by the French Network for Nature and Environment Education, through its methods, tools and principles, this research partnership is characterized by a horizontality associative culture. This article demonstrates that the design stages of the PAR process is derived from learning partnership practices related to this culture, and PAR projects are fashioned as Education and Research learning partnerships. This framework might in the long run provide markers for this kind of research so as to assess both means and ends.