Lost in Translation

Czech Dialogues by Swedish Design

  • Zdeněk Konopásek Center for Theoretical Study, Charles University & The Czech Academy of Sciences
  • Linda Soneryd Department of Sociology and Work Science, University of Gothenburg
  • Karel Svačina Center for Theoretical Study, Charles University & The Czech Academy of Sciences

Abstract

This study explores the journey of a model for stakeholder involvement called RISCOM. Originally developed within the field of radioactive waste management in Sweden, it was later used in the Czech Republic to re-establish public dialogue in the process of siting a geological repository. This case offers an opportunity to empirically study the fragility and ambiguous results of organized spread of public involvement across various domains of technological innovation and national contexts. We show how three circumstances – (1) the ambition to make RISCOM an internationally used model for public dialogue, (2) the specific situation in the Czech siting process, and (3) the short-lived and limited success of the subsequent Czech dialogues by Swedish design – were intrinsically related and sustained each other. Better understanding of such complexities might contribute to a more realistic attitude toward technologized democracy, i.e., toward practices of public deliberation increasingly becoming instrumental, transferable, and depoliticized.