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The new spirit of technoscience: avenues for analysis, critique and intervention in STS 
Tess Doezema (Autonomous University of Barcelona)
Nina Frahm
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Traditional Open Panel

Short Abstract:

We explore the dynamics by which society and democracy are mobilized as central to the production and justification of technoscience. From critiques of power to novel modes of STS intervention, we pursue symmetrical analysis of invocations and implementations of democracy, ethics, and participation.

Long Abstract:

Over the last decades, social agency, control, and participation in technoscientific development has increasingly moved to the center of governance rationales, arguably presenting a shift from technological to social fix logics in the narratives of sociotechnical change (Frahm et al., 2021). These logics are today mainstreamed across institutions, sectors, and actors through frameworks and instruments such as Responsible Research and Innovation to Co-creation, Mission-oriented Innovation, or, most recently, AI Ethics. In this panel, we aim to engage a pragmatist reading of these new governance imperatives and corollary avenues for analyzing, critiquing and intervening in them. We invite contributions to help symmetrically trace the new ideological commitments that justify innovation as the central organizing principle of technoscientific governance – what pragmatist sociologists have referred to as the “new spirit of capitalism” (Boltanski & Chiapello, 1999), and which we are referring to as the “new spirit of technoscience” (Doezema & Frahm, Forthcoming). This entails taking democratic politics equally (alongside technoscience) as an explicit site of symmetrical analysis. Rather than offer democracy as an ideal attainable through public engagement, such an approach inquires how notions and practices of democracy are being produced in dynamic relation to technoscientific change. Questions guiding the panel discussion include, but are not limited to: How can we explain the turn toward society and the different discourses through which society and social expertise are portrayed as key actors in governing the advance of technoscience? Which visions of socio-technical progress guide these novel justificatory discourses, and how are they informed by larger, historically grounded imaginaries of democracy and self-governance by the people? How is attention to social agency and responsibility re-shaping governance arrangements, including the production of new, asymmetrical visions of appropriate relationships between science, technology and society? How can these changes inform interventionist strategies of STS researchers?

Accepted papers: