Minerva 51 (2):225-251 (2013)

The ambiguous material identity of nanotechnology is a minor mystery of the history of contemporary science. This paper argues that nanotechnology functioned primarily in discourses of social, not physical or biological science, the problematic knowledge at stake concerning the economic value of state-supported basic science. The politics of taxonomy in the United States Department of Energy’s Office of Basic Energy Sciences in the 1990s reveals how scientists invoked the term as one of several competing and equally valid candidates for reframing materials sciences in ways believed consonant with the political tenor of the time. The resulting loss of conceptual clarity in the sociology of science traces ultimately to the struggle to bridge the disjunction between the promissory economy of federal basic science and the industrial economy, manifested in attempts to reconcile the precepts of linearity and interdisciplinarity in changing socio-economic conditions over a half century
Keywords Complex systems  Condensed-matter physics  Department of Energy  Federal science policy  Industrial laboratory  Materials sciences and engineering  Nanotechnology  National laboratory
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DOI 10.1007/s11024-013-9224-z
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Real Science: What It is, and What It Means.J. M. Ziman - 2000 - Cambridge University Press.
The Commercialization of Science, and the Response of STS.Philip Mirowski & Esther-Mirjam Sent - 2007 - In Edward Hackett, Olga Amsterdamska, Michael Lynch & Judy Wajcman (eds.), The Handbook of Science and Technology Studies. MIT Press. pp. 635-89.

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