Accepted Paper:

Which comes first? The construction of problems or solutions: science and technology agenda and social inequalities  


Santiago Alzugaray (Universidad de la Rep├║blica, Uruguay)

Paper short abstract:

Which comes first?Inequality or science and technology? Unequal social systems make unequal S&T?Inequality can be fought through S&T?The presentation proposes to go a step backwards and start thinking about the production and reproduction of inequalities in the process of defining priorities for S&T

Paper long abstract:

Inequalities are multicausal. Science and technology may have egalitarian or unequal effects: the effect is not inherent to the technology or knowledge involved. The effect is socially constructed, according to the social structure, in dynamic processes. That construction begins with the definition of research and/or innovation agendas, a process in which social structures become evident, particularly the predominant power structures (constantly re-negotiated, disputed, dynamically produced and reproduced).

This presentation will reflect on the effect that the process of the definition of research and innovation priorities has in the production and reproduction of social inequalities. Science and technology not only have a strong power by their own and direct effects, but also as means of defining horizons of possibility, as means of defining what is real and possible and what is not.

The reflection will be illustrated by preliminary results coming from an ongoing research focused in understanding how power relations between different actors, individual and collective, contribute to the definition of priorities and scope for the construction of knowledge, and for the design and incorporation of technology related to different stages of the rice production process in Uruguay.

Analysing the process or the reinforcement of social inequalities through the construction of science and technology from the very beginning of the problem may contribute to the rising of more inclusive alternatives to the predominating models. The presentation will try to finish with some keys to the identification of alternative pathways.

Panel C05
Science, innovation and inequality: part of the solution or the problem?