Nowotny - Chapter 06
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We live in a world characterized by
innovation — by rapid changes in work and personal life; new forms of
communication and globalization, and new techniques in informatics,
agriculture, and medicine. Much of this novelty we associate with
science and with scientific technology; we tend to see science as the
major driver of innovation, including social and cultural innovations
that may well have different roots. At least in Britain, governments
dealing with contentious technical issues such as foot and mouth
diseases or genetic engineering now summon expert reports on "science"
as a basis for policy. Science thus tends to be reified — as if coming
in packages to which nonscientists must accommodate themselves. It
comes from "scientists" as from a club that includes physicists but not
economists or literary analysts.
In this chapter I suggest that we might benefit from focusing
on these formulations and asking whether they are inevitable. I do not
suggest that our handling of innovative technologies depends heavily on
our understanding of science, but I do think the links are significant,
both at the level of discourse and of institutions. So perhaps scholars
could contribute to present debates, albeit indirectly, by calling into
question the framing of the issues, and especially by historical
reflection on the meanings of "science."