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Abstract

Consistent with studies on inclusive management, this paper adopts the concept of “boundary object” and therefore an emergent approach to explain the collaboration of heterogeneous social actors in public deliberation. My long-term participant observation of the consensus conferences in Taiwan from 2002 through 2005 in general and the transcript of a national consensus conference on prenatal examination in 2005 in particular form the data sources. The identification of a series of boundary objects in the consensus conferences led me to conclude that, on the one hand, the consensus conference is a boundary infrastructure that fosters the establishment of a community of participation and thereby facilitates diverse parties’ deliberation on sensitive issues. On the other hand, whereas a newly formed collective identity is emerging in public deliberation, boundary tensions and the differences between diverse social actors are managed and halted temporarily instead of eliminated permanently by boundary objects. That is, collaboration in public deliberation is always an achievement “in the making” by all parties.