Accepted Paper:

Manifold roles in researching, doing and promoting Technology Assessment  

Author:

Benedikt Rosskamp (University of Li├Ęge)

Paper short abstract:

This paper reflects on the ambiguities and shifting subjectivities of doing research within and besides a European Science-in-Society project.

Paper long abstract:

In her ethnography of witchcraft in the French bocage, Favret-Saada (1977) found that she could only produce meaningful knowledge about the phenomenon if she allowed to be "affected" by or "caught up" in it. Her book broke with ethnographic conventions of the time and opened new venues for research that overcome the classical approach of participant-observation and its necessary position of exteriority.

The very endeavour of my own PhD research on the institutionalization and de facto re-making of Technology Assessment in three European countries (Portugal, Czech Republic and Belgium/Wallonia) also took place in a setting of necessary engagement with the community, the practice and even its advocacy. I identify a series of shifting, assigned and assumed roles in a system where normative, scientific and action elements are constantly interwoven. I argue that being "caught up" in this project, in these multiples roles, in this normative-action-research setting and my own process of insertion (Robinson 2010) also allowed me to gain original insights into the institutionalization and the re-making of TA in the European periphery.

More particularly I will focus on a constitutive tension between a deficit discourse on institutionalization (seen as a dichotomist national property setting apart countries having TA and others that do not) and an inclusive and open approach aiming to extend the community of practice to new spaces and actors. The way this tension unfolds in each of my three case studies redefines the practices of TA, its institutionalization and the understanding of this very process.

Panel T014
Considering the performativity of our own research practices