In the past twenty years, the field of science and technology studies (S&TS) has made considerable progress toward illuminating the relationship between scientific knowledge and political power. These insights have not yet been synthesized or presented in a form that systematically highlights the connections between S&TS and other social sciences. This timely collection of essays by some of the leading scholars in the field attempts to fill that gap. The book develops the theme of "co-production", showing how scientific knowledge both (...) embeds and is embedded in social identities, institutions, representations and discourses. Accordingly, the authors argue, ways of knowing the world are inseparably linked to the ways in which people seek to organize and control it. Through studies of emerging knowledges, research practices and political institutions, the authors demonstrate that the idiom of co-production importantly extends the vocabulary of the traditional social sciences, offering fresh analytic perspectiveson the nexus of science, power and culture. (shrink)
STS research has devoted relatively little attention to the promotion and reception of science and technology by non-scientific actors and institutions. One consequence is that the relationship of science and technology to political power has tended to remain undertheorized. This article aims to fill that gap by introducing the concept of sociotechnical imaginaries. Through a comparative examination of the development and regulation of nuclear power in the US and South Korea, the article demonstrates the analytic potential of the imaginaries concept. (...) Although nuclear power and nationhood have long been imagined together in both countries, the nature of those imaginations has remained strikingly different. In the US, the state’s central move was to present itself as a responsible regulator of a potentially runaway technology that demands effective containment. In South Korea, the dominant imaginary was of atoms for development which the state not only imported but incorporated into its scientific, technological and political practices. In turn, these disparate imaginaries have underwritten very different responses to a variety of nuclear shocks and challenges, such as Three Mile Island (TMI), Chernobyl, and the spread of the anti-nuclear movement. (shrink)
The power of technology? -- Risk and responsibility? -- The ethical anatomy of disasters? -- Remaking nature? -- Tinkering with humans? -- Information's wild frontiers? -- Whose knowledge, whose property? -- Reclaiming the future? -- The ethics of invention?
This collection of essays by Sheila Jasanoff explores how democratic governments construct public reason, that is, the forms of evidence and argument used in making state decisions accountable to citizens.
Scholars in science and technology studies (STS) have recently been called upon to advise governments on the design of procedures for public engagement. Any such instrumental function should be carried out consistently with STS’s interpretive and normative obligations as a social science discipline. This article illustrates how such threefold integration can be achieved by reviewing current US participatory politics against a 70-year backdrop of tacit constitutional developments in governing science and technology. Two broad cycles of constitutional adjustment are discerned: the (...) first enlarging the scope of state action as well as public participation, with liberalized rules of access and sympathetic judicial review; the second cutting back on the role of the state, fostering the rise of an academic-industrial complex for technology transfer, and privatizing value debates through increasing delegation to professional ethicists. New rules for public engagement in the United Sates should take account of these historical developments and seek to counteract some of the anti-democratic tendencies observable in recent decades. (shrink)
This article argues that climate change produces discordances in established ways of understanding the human place in nature, and so offers unique challenges and opportunities for the interpretive social sciences. Scientific assessments such as those of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change helped establish climate change as a global phenomenon, but in the process they detached knowledge from meaning. Climate facts arise from impersonal observation whereas meanings emerge from embedded experience. Climate science thus cuts against the grain of common sense (...) and undermines existing social institutions and ethical commitments at four levels: communal, political, spatial and temporal. The article explores the tensions that arise when the impersonal, apolitical and universal imaginary of climate change projected by science comes into conflict with the subjective, situated and normative imaginations of human actors engaging with nature. It points to current environmental debates in which a reintegration of scientific representations of the climate with social responses to those representations is taking place. It suggests how the interpretive social sciences can foster a more complex understanding of humanity’s climate predicament. An important aim of this analysis is to offer a framework in which to think about the human and the social in a climate that seems to render obsolete important prior categories of solidarity and experience. (shrink)
Dreamscapes of Modernity offers the first book-length treatment of sociotechnical imaginaries, a concept originated by Sheila Jasanoff and developed in close collaboration with Sang-Hyun Kim to describe how visions of scientific and technological progress carry with them implicit ideas about public purposes, collective futures, and the common good. The book presents a mix of case studies—including nuclear power in Austria, Chinese rice biotechnology, Korean stem cell research, the Indonesian Internet, US bioethics, global health, and more—to illustrate how the concept of (...) sociotechnical imaginaries can lead to more sophisticated understandings of the national and transnational politics of science and technology. A theoretical introduction sets the stage for the contributors’ wide-ranging analyses, and a conclusion gathers and synthesizes their collective findings. The book marks a major theoretical advance for a concept that has been rapidly taken up across the social sciences and promises to become central to scholarship in science and technology studies. (shrink)
This essay introduces a collection of articles gathered under the theme of “law, science, and constitutions of life.” Together, they explore how revolutions in notions of what biological life is are eliciting correspondingly revolutionary imaginations of how life should be governed. The central theoretical contribution of the collection is to further elaborate the concept of bioconstitutionalism, which draws attention to especially consequential forms of coproduction at the law–life nexus. This introduction offers a theoretical discussion of bioconstitutionalism. It explores the constitutional (...) significance of interplay between scientific and technological power over life and a given political community’s shared imaginary of what modes of reasoning, judgment, and rule are proper and legitimate in a well-ordered state. It argues that knowing what life is for purposes of governance does not follow from scientific knowledge alone. Rather, such knowledge is refracted through culturally distinctive imaginaries that commit societies to particular understandings of what life means and what should be done to encourage its flourishing. (shrink)
This paper explores the politics of representing events in the world in the form of data points, data sets, or data associations. Data collection involves an act of seeing and recording something that was previously hidden and possibly unnamed. The incidences included in a data set are not random or unrelated but stand for coherent, classifiable phenomena in the world. Moreover, for data to have an impact on law and policy, such information must be seen as actionable, that is, the (...) aggregated data must show people both something they can perceive and something that demands interrogation, explanation, or resolution. Actionable data problematize the taken-for-granted order of society by pointing to questions or imbalances that can be corrected or rectified, or simply better understood, through systematic compilations of occurrences, frequencies, distributions, or correlations. The paper describes and analyzes three different modes of authorized seeing that render data on global environmental phenomena such as climate change both visible and actionable. It argues that the political force of environmental data compilations derives from the divergent epistemological standpoints and expert practices associated with producing views from nowhere, everywhere, and somewhere. (shrink)
Human embryos produced in labs since the 1970s have generated layers of uncertainty for law and policy: ontological, moral, and administrative. Ontologically, these lab-made entities fall into a gray zone between life and not-yet-life. Should in vitro embryos be treated as inanimate matter, like abandoned postsurgical tissue, or as private property? Morally, should they exist largely outside of state control in the zone of free reproductive choice or should they be regarded as autonomous human lives and thus entitled to constitutional (...) protection like full-fledged citizens? Administratively, if they deserve protection, what institutional and policy mechanisms are best suited to carrying out the necessary oversight? Using a method termed comparative problematization, this article traces divergent answers to these questions produced in three countries—the United States, United Kingdom, and Germany—across the last twenty-five years. Comparison reveals distinct bioconstitutional foundations that give rise to systematically different understandings of each state’s responsibilities toward human life and hence its particular treatment of claims on behalf of embryonic lives. (shrink)
Nearly 70 years after the dawn of the genetic age, biotechnology, scientists proclaim, is poised to rewrite the book of life. Yet, how far can science go in making sense of what "life" means to human beings and societies? This book looks at flash points in law, politics, ethics, and culture to argue that the claims of rewriting life are overblown.
Genetic testing has become a vehicle through which basic constitutional relationships between citizens and the state are revisited, reaffirmed, or rearticulated. The interplay between the is of genetic knowledge and the ought of government unfolds in the context of diverse imaginaries of the forms of human well-being, freedom, and flourishing that states have a duty to support. This article examines how the United Kingdom, Germany, and the United States governed testing for Alzheimer’s disease, and how they diverged in defining potential (...) harms, benefits, and objects of regulation. Comparison before and after the arrival of direct-to-consumer genetic tests reveals differences in national understandings of what it means to protect life and citizenship: in the United Kingdom, ensuring physical wellness through clinical utility; in the United States, protecting both citizens’ physical well-being and freedom to choose through a framework of consumer protection; and in Germany, emphasizing individual flourishing and an unburdened sense of human development that is expressed in genetic testing law and policy as a commitment to the stewardship of personhood. Operating with their own visions of what it means to protect life and citizenship, these three states arrived at settlements that coproduced substantially different bioconstitutional regimes around Alzheimer’s testing. (shrink)
Building on recent theories ofscience in society, such as that provided bythe `Mode 2' framework, this paper argues thatgovernments should reconsider existingrelations among decision-makers, experts, andcitizens in the management of technology.Policy-makers need a set of ` technologies ofhumility' for systematically assessing theunknown and the uncertain. Appropriate focalpoints for such modest assessments are framing,vulnerability, distribution, and learning.
Nation states in the twenty‐first century confront new challenges to their political legitimacy. Borders are more porous and less secure. Infectious disease epidemics, climate change, financial fraud, terrorism, and cybersecurity all involve cross‐border flows of material, human bodies, and information that threaten to overwhelm state power and expert knowledge. Concurrently, doubts have multiplied about whether citizens, subject to manipulation through the internet, have lost the critical capacity to hold rulers accountable for their expert decisions. I argue that the primary threat (...) to democracy is not the public's epistemic incompetence but a slow dissolution of the deliberative practices that are essential for self‐rule. We need a radical reimagining of the sites, forms, and performances of democratic deliberation. For this purpose, the American state needs to reconstitute a public square open to citizens who are deemed to be epistemically competent and capable of informed judgment. (shrink)
There is growing need for hybrid curricula that integrate constructivist methods from Science and Technology Studies (STS) into both engineering and policy courses at the undergraduate and graduate levels. However, institutional and disciplinary barriers have made implementing such curricula difficult at many institutions. While several programs have recently been launched that mix technical training with consideration of “societal” or “ethical issues,” these programs often lack a constructivist element, leaving newly-minted practitioners entering practical fields ill-equipped to unpack the politics of knowledge (...) and technology or engage with skeptical publics. This paper presents a novel format for designing interdisciplinary coursework that combines conceptual content from STS with training in engineering and policy. Courses following this format would ideally be team taught by instructors with advanced training in diverse fields, and hence co-learning between instructors and disciplines is a key element of the format. Several instruments for facilitating both student and instructor collaborative learning are introduced. The format is also designed for versatility: in addition to being adaptable to both technical and policy training environments, topics are modularized around a conceptual core so that issues ranging from biotech to nuclear security can be incorporated to fit programmatic needs and resources. (shrink)
Both opponents and proponents of the death penalty express faith in science and in DNA evidence to justify their positions. This article examines the production of forensic evidence as a social activity and suggests that tendencies toward bias and error may not apply symmetrically in inculpation and exoneration contexts.
This paper addresses, and seeks to correct, some frequent misunderstandings concerning the claim that science is socially constructed. It describes several features of scientific inquiry that have been usefully illuminated by constructivist studies of science, including the mundane or tacit skills involved in research, the social relationships in scientific laboratories, the causes of scientific controversy, and the interconnection of science and culture. Social construction, the paper argues, should be seen not as an alternative to but an enhancement of scientists’ own (...) professional understanding of how science is done. The richer, more finely textured accounts of scientific practice that the constructivist approach provides are potentially of great relevance to public policy. (shrink)
History at one time drew unproblematically on records produced by human societies about themselves and their doings. Advances in biology and the earth sciences introduced new narrative resources that repositioned the human story in relation to the evolution of all else on the planet, thereby decentering earlier conceptions of time, life, and human agency. This essay reflects on what it means for our understanding of the human that the history of our species has become so intimately entangled with the material (...) processes that make up the biosphere, while concurrently the temporal horizon of our imagination has been stretched forward and back, underscoring the brevity of human existence in relation to earthly time. I suggest that, despite significant changes in the resources with which we can rethink the human condition, drawing upon the sciences, history’s fundamental purposes have not been rendered irrelevant. These center, as before, on the normative project of connecting past and future in ways that make sense of human experience and give meaning to it. In particular, the question of how humans should imagine the stewardship of the Earth in the Anthropocene remains an ethical project for history and not primarily the domain of the natural sciences. (shrink)
This chapter contains sections titled: Environmental impacts and health effects Risk assessment and management The precautionary principle Responsibility and burden of proof Environmental standards Market approaches Citizen participation and standing to sue International environmental law The future of environmental law.
Xenotransplantation, or the grafting of organs from one species to another, may seem at first a far cry from brain death, but there is rising hope in some quarters of the biomedical community that such transplants may reduce, even obviate, the need to harvest human organs—and hence eliminate the primary reason for needing an unambiguous definition of brain death. As with all research on the frontiers of biomedicine, xenotransplantation raises its own ethical quandaries. One concern that has long occupied ethical (...) thought is the degree to which advances in science and technology should control the boundaries between the human and the nonhuman. Might the dimming of a previously entrenched bright line between species entail negative consequences for concepts, such as human dignity and bodily integrity, that historically anchored the protection of both human and animal subjects in biomedical treatment and research? To date, ethical thinking about xenotransplantation, and about gene editing, has largely been left in the hands of scientists, subject only to loose supervision by institutional review boards and animal welfare committees whose remit may be too narrow to address age‐old moral concerns. (shrink)
The disastrous gas leak at a Union Carbide plant in Bhopal, India, in December 1984 displayed the law’s tragic inability to cope with the consequences of technological globalization. This essay describes the protracted efforts of the gas victims to obtain relief from courts in India and the United States and the reasons why the settlement of their legal claims did not satisfy their demands for justice. The victims’ self‐knowledge, whether scientific or social, found no traction in official medical record keeping (...) or in courts of law. Their experience highlights the structural asymmetries of technology transfer across national boundaries. Union Carbide’s technology of production moved from West to East with little hindrance and, in retrospect, with insufficient regard to conditions in Bhopal. By contrast, India’s attempts to transfer legal accountability back to the exporting country proved essentially impossible, as American courts insisted that claims be resolved by Indian judges under Indian law. (shrink)
“Relying on Science, Romney Files Death Penalty Bill.” With that headline, a press release on April 28, 2005 announced that Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney was seeking to reintroduce by legislation the death penalty that the state's Supreme Judicial Court ruled unconstitutional in 1984. The remainder of the text left little doubt that science was a major basis for the governor's action. The press release quoted Romney as saying that the bill provided a “gold standard for the death penalty in the (...) modern scientific age.” Positing a symmetry that will be questioned below, Romney also declared, “Just as science can free the innocent, it can also identify the guilty.” The bill itself deferred to science by calling for corroborating scientific evidence, multiple layers of review, and a novel “no doubt” standard of proof. By raising the required standard of evidence and by restricting the class of capital crimes, the proposed law hoped to correct the defects of other death penalty statutes. (shrink)