Accepted Paper:

Institutionalising promises: The key role of promise champions in mediating and embedding visions of the future into institutions (evidence and a typology)  


Douglas Robinson (LISIS, Uni-Paris Est (FR) )
Aurelie Delemarle (Ecole des ponts ParisTech)
Philippe Laredo (Université Paris Est)

Paper short abstract:

Field level studies of expectations has received much attention, whilst embedding of these visions into institutions has received much less. We provide a case-based typology showing how promises shape the directions of emergence through institutionalisation processes mediated by promise champions.

Paper long abstract:

Promises shape emerging technology fields and the sociology of expectations and other branches of innovation studies have explored these field-level dynamics in depth, e.g. hype cycles, ideographs and umbrella terms, promise requirement cycles and waiting games. What is less visible in this literature is the institutional embedding of technology fields and the role of expectations and promises in mediating, directing and crystallising these promising fields into institutions. We propose that a key part of this institutionalisation process is played by "promise champions", which mobilise resources, enrol other actors, select (both in and out) and embed visions of the future into ongoing practices.

In this paper, we identify four types of "promise champions", a typology that is visible across the breadth of emerging technology fields, each playing a key role at different stages of emergence and, in some cases, inscribing the future directions of the emerging field through the institutional embedding of their preferred visions. This has ramifications for a deeper understanding of the "regime of techno-scientific promising", not only for the analysis of emerging fields, but also for anticipatory governance and the dynamics of opening up and closing down of options. We will present the typology, drawing on case studies in nanotechnology and additive manufacturing, however, we argue that this typology is visible in fields such as synthetic biology brain computer interfaces, NBIC and elsewhere. We conclude with the call for further research on the role of institutionalising of promising fields and the typology of actors and associated spaces.

Panel T094
Emerging science and technology : questioning the regime of promising