Forecasting, projection, and anticipation are, of course, all part of scientific research and technological innovation. In their article on the sociology of expectations, Borup et al. (2006) acknowledge that “very little in innovation can work in isolation from a highly dynamic and variegated body of future-oriented understandings about the future.” Here, the work of imagination oversees research and innovation, stimulates investment, and organizes scientific and technological fields.
Nonetheless, all of these expectations and promises are subject to a great deal of uncertainty as to whether research will even reach the point where technology meets the expectations of a technological future. This has led several sociologists and researchers to speak of an "économie de la promesse" (Joly, 2010), "technologies of hope" (Leibing and Tournay, 2010), a "technoprophecy" (Chateauraynaud, 2005) or a "prospective technoscience" (Brown, Rappert, and Webster, 2000). These terms all describe a phenomenon of conjunction between prophetic discourses on science and technology and their actual development; one that has real and numerous consequences. In fact, the whole field of research is driven by the rhetoric of promise, from the director of research who seeks to convince a student to work under their supervision, to governments that fund one laboratory over another on the basis of its ability to innovate. This dynamic has its own performative effect on socialities that shapes the relation between science, technology, and society.
THEMES AND SUBJECTS
We invite researchers to examine the social impacts of multiple forms of representation of technological futures. The “economy of promises” relates to the following areas of interest of Science and Technology Studies (STS):
- public policies and investments;
- research funding;
- university research orientations;
- sociology of the scientific field;
- socio-scientific controversies;
- relationship between science and the public;
- media coverage of science and research;
- philosophy of history;
- history of sciences;
- means of knowledge mediation;
- new roles of researcher-entrepreneurs;
- reconfiguration of research-industry links;
- actors and dynamics of innovation;
- socio-material worlds.
Presentations of 20 minutes in French or English will be accepted. We particularly welcome the following topics:
- Economic predictions;
- 4th industrial revolution;
- Promises and research funding (promises formulated to receive a grant or the rhetoric of research grant);
- Social dynamics of post-secondary education;
- Sociologies and Anthropolgies of Technological Futures
- Promises and climate change (forecasts to change policies, geoengineering, government promises - COPs -, expert committees, etc.);
- Rhetoric of hope and fear in technological governance and regulation.