Citizen and stakeholder engagement is frequently portrayed as vital for socially accountable science policy but there is a growing understanding of how institutional dynamics shape engagement exercises in ways that prevent them from realising their full potential. Limited attention has been devoted to developing the means to expose institutional features, allow policy-makers to reflect on how they will shape engagement and respond appropriately. Here, therefore, we develop and test a methodological framework to facilitate pre-engagement institutional reflexivity with one of the United Kingdom’s eminent science organisations as it grappled with a new, high-profile and politicised technology, genome editing. We show how this approach allowed policy-makers to reflect on their institutional position and enrich decision-making at a time when they faced pressure to legitimate decisions with engagement. Further descriptions of such pre-engagement institutional reflexivity are needed to better bridge theory and practice in the social studies of science.
- genome editing
- institutional reflexivity
- public engagement
- research funding organisations
- science policy