Coordination mechanisms in new constellations of responsibility in science and technology
Simone Arnaldi (University of Padua)
Toni Pustovrh (University of Ljubljana)
Thursday 1 September, 9:00-10:45, 11:00-12:45 (UTC+0)

Short abstract:

The notion of responsibility is gaining importance in shaping S&T in Europe and beyond. The track explores more formal intermediary mechanisms, such as TA bodies, ethics committees, etc, but also less formal ones, such as stakeholder forums, engagement exercises, etc, that coordinate responsibility.

Long abstract:

The recent S&T discourse is characterized by the increasing importance of responsibility in S&T governance. In Europe, the notion of Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) is the most prominent example, and now a "cross-cutting issue" of the new Framework Programme Horizon 2020. The debate focused both on identifying a prescriptive framework for S&T and innovation to be responsible, and on describing and analysing responsible governance arrangements in concrete settings. Yet, the latter treated the different sites where responsibility is framed (e.g. research laboratories, media, policymaking) as separate, missing that responsible governance arrangements emerge across different domains as results of their coordination.

Science and Technology Studies have developed a set of tools for investigating how concepts and objects inhabit several intersecting social worlds, effectively coordinating different actions and networks. Notions like boundary objects, boundary organizations, intermediary organizations, trading zones, etc. have been elaborated to explore such intermediation mechanisms. Such research has focused on processes of knowledge transfer, technology diffusion, etc. The aim of this track is therefore to use the logic of intermediation to explore the bodies and sites that construct responsibility across different societal domains and how they interact. The track invites theoretical, empirical and methodological contributions from different fields on how responsibility is (re-)formulated and coordinated across domains. More formal mechanisms, such as ethics committees, TA bodies, knowledge transfer facilities, and less formal ones, such as stakeholder forums, public engagement, etc., are indicative, but not exhaustive, of cases we wish to explore.