Trading Zones in Technological Societies
20 years of SPIRAL Research Centre
Confirmed keynote speakers: Sheila Jasanoff (Harvard), Andrew Stirling (Sussex), Pierre-Benoît Joly (IFRIS/Paris), Arie Rip (Twente).
The SPIRAL Research Centre, from its beginning, located itself as an hybrid space between risk research, science and technology studies and public policy. The importance of doing so can be captured by referring to ‘trading zones’, Peter Galison’s (1997) concept indicating interactions and exchanges across boundaries and between scientific disciplines. We expand his concept to cover interactions in our technological societies, and the “pidgins” that emerge enabling some communication or collaboration in which various perspectives, interests, visions, imaginaries, narratives are combined. This occurs anyway, but the experience of SPIRAL has shown that this perspective allows understanding issues of technological societies and contributes to handling them productively. Hence, it is appropriate for the 20th anniversary conference to take “Trading Zones in Contemporary Technological Societies” as its theme. New developments, such as, for example, new genetic testing, digitized work environments, biobanks, 3D printed tissues or high-level radioactive waste management, create promises and expectations, but also entail great uncertainty with regard to societal and political impacts. There is a need to engage in an imaginative dialogue pursuing multiple dimensions of possible outcomes and to normatively evaluate such outcomes. This requires opening up of existing ways of handling issues (Stirling 2008). Thus, there is a need for spaces (Rip and Joly 2013) favouring interdisciplinary cross-breeding to deal with these issues, and the latter should also be democratically debated. Boundary trading between experts and others (publics, policymakers, patients) is a very good entry point for “inquiry into the relations between science and power to ask how they come about, and what functions they serve in channelling both knowledge and politics” (Jasanoff 2003: 394).
We encourage submissions to present papers and/or posters on one of the three following subthemes, reflecting major lines of work in SPIRAL, and organized as parallel streams in the second day of the conference:
Galison, P. (1997). Image & logic: A material culture of microphysics. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.
Stirling, A. (2008). « Opening Up » and « Closing Down » Power, Participation, and Pluralism in the Social Appraisal of Technology.Science, Technology & Human Values, 33, 262-294.
Rip, A., and Joly, P.-B. (2013). Emerging Spaces and Governance. Emerging Spaces and Governance. Position paper submitted to EU-SPRI Forum, available on its website.
Jasanoff, S. (2003).Breaking the Waves in Science Studies. Comment on H.M. Collins and Robert Evans, `The Third Wave of Science Studies’. Social Studies of Science, 33/3, 389-400.