Accepted Paper:

Care and STS: re-embedding socio-technical futures  


Christopher Groves (Cardiff University)

Paper short abstract:

An approach equal to the imaginary & material aspects of socio-technical futures, it is argued, must take seriously a wide range of links between futurity & care, set out in phenomenology, care ethics, and objects-relations theory, thus enabling reappraisal of the implicit normative aspects of STS.

Paper long abstract:

STS has, in recent years, seen the foregrounding of concepts of care in attempting to understand the constitution of of socio-technologies, as in, for example, the work of scholars like Annemarie Mol and Maria Puig de la Bellacasa. Despite the explicit attention such research pays to temporality, connections between care and technoscientific futures remain under-explored. This paper addresses this issue by re-appraising the connections between care, socio-technologies and futures, drawing on phenomenology, the ethics of care, and objects-relations theories to explore the relationship between practices, technologies and complex subjectivity. Performing the future in the present, it is suggested, constitutes and is constituted by specific temporal relationships between past, present and the not-yet through which subjects exercise care for the future. These relationships can be lost, in certain circumstances, in the products of the performance itself, in the quest for socially-valorized and desired 'disembedded' knowledge of futures, as manifested in demand forecasts, cost-benefit analyses, profit projections and so on. I explore how restoring an appreciation for the 'artisanal' performance of futures is essential to how innovation, and indeed governance of innovation, can be re-embedded in society as part of the broader goal of reconstructing the contract between technoscience and the societies that depend on it. Normative dimensions in STS, as addressed by recent developments such as responsible innovation ('taking care of the future' through the stewardship of technoscience, according to Stilgoe, Owen & Macnaghten, 2013), are thus brought back into the analytical frame.

Panel T028
Futures in the making and re-making