How Science and Technology changed the world

how science and technology can be misused and how science and technology can develop a nation and how science and technology changed our life
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DrLaurenHepburn,United Kingdom,Researcher
Published Date:07-07-2017
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Handbook on the Socialisation of Scientific and Technological Research Social Sciences and European Research Capacities (SS-ERC) Project Edited by Wiebe E. Bijker and Luciano d’Andrea SIXTH FRAMEWORK PROGRAMME Citizenship and governance in a knowledge based society 1 THE CONTRADICTORY CONDITION OF SCIENTIFIC AND TECHNOLOGICAL RESEARCH Science and technology are affected by a contradictory condition. Research is increasingly On the one hand, they are more and more politically, socially and economically signi- significant and visible ficant and visible. Science-based innovation is increasingly acknowledged as a pivotal fac- tor of competitiveness in the global market; science and technology are viewed as key ele- ments for successfully coping with global problems (such as sustainable energy, growing mobility needs, food shortage, environmental protection); power and pervasiveness of technologies have increased to the point that they profoundly affect social life and even individuals’ biographies. Science and technology are therefore asked to be increasingly effective, accountable, result-oriented and able to generate benefits for people and firms. On the other hand, in large sectors of society and political leaderships, there is an increasing mistrust towards science and technology and a widespread indifference with respect, not so much to scientific discoveries and technological innovations (which arou- se interest and curiosity of the public at large), as to the destiny of the scientific and technological research and the problems met by scientists and research institutions. A scarce “social This scarce “social mobilisation” on scientific and technological research manifests mobilisation” around itself in different ways: low appeal of scientific faculties to young people and their families; science decreasing social status of scientists (also in terms of salaries) in comparison with other professional groups; increasing obstacles met by young people in accessing scientific care- ers; low investments on research, mainly by the private sector but, in some European countries, also by the State; a serious gap between science and culture, hindering that the often large implications of scientific research could be culturally developed; scarce atten- tion devoted to research and innovation by large sectors of public administrations and political leaderships; the enduring forms of discrimination experienced by women in scien- tific careers; diffused, even if not dominant, sense of worry about science-related risks. In sum, science and technology risk to be more and more socially marginalised and to appear as a “foreign body” to the social system, in the very moment in which they are taking a driving role for the economic and social development and are establishing closer and multifarious connections with society (box 1.1.). 18 Box 1.1 VIEWS OF THE PARADOX S Science is under attack. People are losing confidence in its powers. (...) And yet, opinion surveys regularly report large majorities in its favour. (...) Science has never been so popular or influential. (John Ziman, Real Science, 2000) Today, science is no longer viewed unquestioningly as the harbinger of better times. Society’s view of scientific inquiry has become more sophisticated and nuanced The gap between the scientific community and society at large has widened. (European Commission, Science and Society Action Portfolio, Brussels, 2005) Public opinion, the sentiments of voters and the bias of the media debate largely determine the boundaries imposed on scientific practice at the beginning of the 21st century. And, as we have seen, these sentiments are unmistakably more skeptical and negative than in the past. (Peter Drenth, President of All European Academies, ALLEA, Bratislava, 2003) Despite increasing communication there are indications of a disconnection bet- ween science and society. (...) Research is not seen as an attractive field for young people to pursue as a career. (...) Fewer researchers with less available time to bridge the gap between science and public perception would not alleviate the situation. (European Research Advisory Board, 2007) 2 SCIENCE-SOCIETY RELATIONSHIPS Which factors are at the basis of this paradox? And which effects does it produce? In order to deepen these issues, it is necessary to dwell a little upon the processes of change that are occurring in the last decades. Societies are changing Primarily, societies themselves have been profoundly changed; and this process is still at its first steps. We left behind an industrial society – with its strong structures and rules, hierarchical relationships, State’s centrality, well-defined boundaries between sec- tors, groups, disciplines and competences – to enter a more fragmented, network-shaped, 19 globalised, more dynamic and disordered “knowledge society”, where ideas, knowledge, information and therefore science and technology are acquiring a social and economic weight they never had before. Science and technology Also, science and technology are radically changing: boundaries among disciplines are changing are weakening, while application fields are rapidly expanding and fragmenting into thou- sands of research strands; the focus is increasingly put on economic and social results of research programs; organisational ways to produce research are changing. Science appe- ars less and less a unitary, ordered and consistent entity. Science-society Consequently, science-society relationships are changing too. At least up to the end relationships are of the 60s, science, although important, was not perceived as pivotal for development, as changing we believe today. Moreover, science was relatively separate from, but at the same time fair- ly integrated into, society. A limited set of actors (universities, some state agencies, some large companies) was actually involved. Presently, a strong intensification of science-society relationships is occurring, at mul- tiple levels; there are no longer “authorities” or “traffic lights” able to regulate the flows. An increasing number of actors and stakeholders are potentially involved in research pro- duction, while the pervasiveness of technology is, to a certain extent, rendering users an active part in technological development. Economic and social interests on scientific and technological research are growing and developing on a global scale. So, science and society are “compelled” to live together under the same roof and to share the same food. An intricate puzzle Thus, if in the past, science-society relationships were a puzzle made up of a low num- ber of pieces, relatively easy to combine together, now the puzzle to be completed is much more intricate, being made up of an increasing number of pieces which are more difficult to fit together. Perhaps, the paradox of a research playing a central role for development, but also exposed to be socially marginalised can be understood taking into account this complex set- ting. As a matter of fact, this paradox is not to be seen as a phenomenon in itself, but rather as a symptom of broader contradictions characterising present science-society relationships. 3 SOCIALISATION AS AN INTERPRETATIVE PERSPECTIVE The notion All that brings us to the question at the centre of this handbook, i.e. the socialisa- of socialisation tion of science and technology. Used in its proper meaning, socialisation refers to the embeddedness of an individual – for example, a child or a foreigner – into a given socie- 20 ty or a given social environment. Through socialisation, the new member acquires cultu- re, social rules and meanings of society and learns to recognise and assess the expecta- tions that the other members have about him. In this way, the individual develops his/her personal identity and learns to find his/her “place” within society. The application of the concept of socialisation, not to an individual, but to the set of social institutions and human activities that we call “scientific and technological rese- arch” is based on this same idea of embeddedness. A difficult As a matter of fact, most of the problems and hindrances met by scientific and techno- embeddedness logical research can be due to the fact that research is less embedded into society than it was in the past. Its identity – that is, the capacity of research systems to manage themsel- ves and to steer the transformations which are presently affecting them – seems to be weakened and disarticulated. At the same time, its degree of adaptation to a changing 1 society is low and, therefore, its “place” within society remains unstable and uncertain . An overall profile A perspective turning around the idea of socialisation offers the possibility to overcome of science-society the great fragmentation characterising analysis and management of science-society relation- relations ships. Actually, policy makers and social scientists (with some remarkable exceptions) tend to identify and to focus the attention on the single questions (the problems in scientific com- munication, the difficult interactions between universities and enterprises, the poor organisa- tion of research institutions, etc.), as if they were unrelated to each other. On the contrary, the perspective of socialisation helps in understanding that we have to deal with a single system of relations and transformations and, consequently, allows us to reassemble an overall pro- file of science-society relations, at least in a given social or institutional context. Operationally, in order to strengthen and make more visible this unitary approach to science-society relationships, socialisation has been organised in six “socialisation areas”, that is six large domains where it is easier to identify ongoing socialisation processes as well as those factors which could hinder, foster or drive them. These areas are: scientific practi- ces, scientific mediation, scientific communication, evaluation, governance and innovation. 4 THE WEAK SOCIALISATION OF RESEARCH IN EUROPE A mainly European Even though all advanced economies have to deal with problems related to the socia- problem lisation of science and technology, in Europe the question of socialisation is particular- 1 See Castells, M. (2000) The Rise of the Network Society: The Information Age: Economy, Society and nd Culture, Volume I (2 revised edition). Oxford: Blackwell. 21 ly worrying (see box. 1.2). As we will see below, Europe risks lagging behind other coun- tries (United States, China, India, South-East Asia), not only because of the low level of expenditures on science and technology, but mainly for the lack of effective mechanisms for integrating research into society. Box 1.2 VOICES OF RESEARCHERS: THE CONTRADICTORY CONDITION OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY IN EUROPE S On the one hand researchers and scientific findings are treated with high esteem, almost as the carriers of truth and unquestionable knowledge, but on the other hand they are considered to be working far away from the reality of policy and practice and thus often not taken seriously. (…) Over-estimation seems to lead to underestima- tion (Netherlands) Everybody lives surrounded by technology, especially young generations since they live with technology in a very easy way. Reality imposes that you are using tech- nology more and more frequently… On the other hand, I think that social consid- eration is very low, very insufficient… (Spain) I notice this gap: researchers and their institutions, knowledge and technology are generally considered to be crucial and important for society, but at the same time researchers’ salaries are much lower than that of policy officers of the same level. In my view, this is an awkward situation (Netherlands) Perhaps a distinction should be made between science and technology. People are more open to science, but fear technology, even though they use it extensively. The present trend in science and technology is that of no longer to distinguish between science and technology.(Italy) (passages drawn from the interviews made in the framework of the SS-ERC project) The weakness of the Obviously, also in Europe processes of science and technology socialisation are occur- “agents of socialisation” ring. Actually, there are many actors (researchers, research groups, university administrators, civil society organisations, sometimes governments and local administrations) who – more or less consciously – are acting as “agents of socialisation”, by creating new links between scien- ce and society or managing and driving the existing ones. Acting in this way, these actors allow research to advance anyhow, contrasting inaction, disinterest and resistance of other resear- chers, research groups, social groups and sometimes of their own government. The point is that in Europe, the “agents of socialisation” seem to be few; they often work in a hostile environment, where resistances and hindrances limit the “systemic” impact of their 22 action; the degree of acknowledgment that they receive from public institutions varies country by country, but overall it appears to be limited; they prevalently act in an “atomi- sed” way, or create short and scarcely visible co-operation chains. Socialisation policies Hence the urgent need for European governments and research institutions to deve- lop specific socialisation policies – subject of this handbook – in support of traditional research policies, in order to sustain the agents of socialisation, to increase their number and to remove as much as possible the constraints limiting them. K CHAPTER’S KEY ISSUES • Science and technology are affected by a contradictory condition: on the one side, they are more and more politically, socially and economically significant and visi- ble, but, at the same time, they appear to be relatively marginalised. • To understand this paradox, it is necessary to dwell a little upon the change proces- ses that are occurring in the last decades: the overall shift from industrial society to knowledge society; the deep transformations affecting the ways in which science and technology are produced; the change occurring in science-society relationships. • These transformations have taken place in a very short time span and in a chaotic and contradictory way, producing considerable displacement between changes and suitable “machineries” (social, cultural, political, organisational and so on) for handling them. • The handbook deals with this set of questions, focusing the attention on the socia- lisation of scientific and technological research, that is its degree of embeddedness in society, providing an overall profile of science-society relationships. • Many authoritative sources and the same European Commission stress how in Europe socialisation processes are particularly weak and the actors working in sup- port of research socialisation - the “agents of socialisation” – are few, they often work in a hostile environment, where resistances and hindrances limit the “syste- mic” impact of their action. • Hence the urgent need for European governments and research institutions to deve- lop specific socialisation policies – subject of this handbook – in support of tradi- tional research policies, in order to support the agents of socialisation, to increase their number and to remove as much as possible the constraints limiting them. 23 1 BEYOND THE INDUSTRIAL SOCIETY The growing importance of science and technology is not an isolated fact. Rather, it reflects broader transformations that are affecting all contemporary societies. This has main- ly started in the 60s of the last century but its pace accelerated in the following decades. Almost all scholars agree in recognising these transformations as the signs of an ove- rall shift – still in progress and, in some respects, just started – from industrial society to a new type of society, of which it is difficult to define the present profile and even more tricky to assess future developments. The interpretations Different interpretations of this shift (sociological, but also economic and philosophi- cal ones) have been developed (box 2.1.). One follows from the other, they often overlap, but remain well distinguished from each other. Box 2.1 BEYOND THE INDUSTRIAL SOCIETY: DIFFERENT INTERPRETATIONS S 1 Post-industrial society. Developed, among others, by sociologist Daniel Bell , this notion refers to the shift in advanced societies from an economy and a social structu- re built on industrial production to an economy and a social structure turning around services, based on information production and management. Information society. The expression “information society” has been mainly used to 2 refer to the effects deriving from the technological revolution in the field of the ICTs on economy and social structure (development of networks, impacts on daily life, effects 3 on personal experience, changes in human relations and power distribution, etc ). Knowledge society. The concept of “knowledge society” mainly refers, not to kno- wledge in itself, but to all the components (social processes, actors, learning processes, 1 Bell, D. (1974) The Coming of Post-Industrial Society. New York: Harper Colophon Books. 2 Lash, S. (2002) Critique of Information. London: Sage Publications. 3 Castells, M. (2000) The Rise of the Network Society: The Information Age: Economy, Society and nd Culture, Volume I (2 revised edition). Oxford: Blackwell. 26 cognitive elements such as values, languages or social representations, etc.) involved with its production, storage, manipulation and diffusion. 4 Risk society. Coined by the German sociologist Ulrich Beck , the expression “risk society” put at the forefront the diminishing capacity of contemporary societies to con- trol technological, physical and social dangers, the great majority of which are produ- ced by the same legal, social and organisational mechanisms put in place for control- ling risks. These dynamics have profound effects on social structures and individual lives (social fragmentation, uncertainty, etc.). Reflexive modernity. The concept of “reflexive modernity” (mainly developed by socio- 5 logist Anthony Giddens ) focuses on the current, further phase of “social individualisation” started with modernity. This process is increasingly weakening traditional social bonds. Hence the need for both individuals and institutions to reinforce their capacity to keep a “reflexive control” over their own choices and over the consequences of their actions, being disappearing any authorities able to provide them with guidance and protection. 6 Liquid society. Proposed by German sociologist Zygmunt Baumann , this notion mainly refers to the process of “liquefaction” of those social structures (social classes, marriage, the state, etc.) which had driven modern societies up to few decades ago. This process has strong effects (instability, uncertainty, weakening of social protection mechanisms, existential precariousness, etc.), faced by individuals and institutions through devising different more or less effective coping strategies. Post-modern society. The concept of “post-modern society” emerged in the 70s, in the framework of a large and composite philosophical movement, originated in 7 France . The core idea is that modernity, understood as a social organisation and a form of thought pivoted upon both rationality and the unitary explanations of the World (such as those offered by religions, political ideologies or science), failed its objectives. Therefore, we live now in an increasingly fragmented World, in which the authority of political, scientific and religious institutions is decreasing and the boundaries between social spheres, disciplines, categories and worldviews are increasingly blurring. The processes Although being different, the interpretations given to this overall shift seem to conver- of change ge in identifying a common set of change processes. The most relevant is probably that of the modified relationships between social actors (individuals or groups) and “social structures” (which manifest themselves, for 4 Beck, U. (1992) Risk Society: Towards a New Modernity. London: Sage Publications. 5 Giddens, A. (1991) Modernity and Self-Identity: Self and Society in the Late Modern Age. Stanford: Stanford University Press. 6 Baumann, Z. (2000) Liquid Society. Cambridge: Polity Press. 7 Lyotard, J-F. (1984) The Postmodern Condition. Manchester: Manchester University Press. 27 example, through social norms, behavioural models, social roles, values, etc.). In the industrial society, social structures tended to have a relatively strong control over indi- viduals and social groups. In contemporary societies, however, individuals and groups are endowed with a stronger subjectivity and a higher strength. Therefore, they tend to be more autonomous, to enjoy a broader range of socially accepted options and to escape as far as pos- sible from the control of social structures and even, under certain conditions, to modify them. Linked to this process, there are other no less important changes to be mentioned. Crisis of the institutions • Transformations and crisis of the “institutions of modernity”. The weakening of of modernity social structures also entails a crisis of the “institutions of modernity” related to poli- tics, religion, economy, trade-unions or public administrations. All these institutions have lost authority, power and autonomy; they are asked to be more transparent and accountable; in order to be functioning, they are more in need of the support of users and citizens; to manage themselves, they can less and less rely upon hie- rarchical relationships. Some institutions prove not to be able to stand the impact of the growing and growingly fragmented demands of the public. Uncertainty and instabili- • Growth of uncertainty and instability. Instability increases in all sectors of social ty life (labour, emotional ties, social protection, etc.), because of the weakening of social structures, which, while producing a control over the individuals, also provi- des the same individuals with social, psychological and physical protection. Therefore, the sense of uncertainty appears to be a dominant character both in the social life and in the biographical dimension. Social and cultural • Social and cultural diversification. The modified balance between actors and struc- diversification tures produced a strong social and cultural diversification within society. It is more and more difficult to identify homogeneous social groups or dominant behavioural patterns. Even individuals’ identity is more unstable, fragmented and inconsistent. At the same time, diversification feeds a multiplication of ideas, initiatives, behaviours and forms of knowledge, accelerating social changes. Weakening of social • Weakening of social boundaries. All the “inner” boundaries within society are wea- boundaries kening: between social spheres, between institutions, between social groups and between cultures. New forms of social and cultural hybridisation and metissage con- stantly arise from within society. Globalisation • Globalisation and localisation. Globalisation processes are speeding up and enlar- and localisation ging their scope, affecting all sectors of social life. At the same time, also localisation processes (i.e. a strengthening of the local dimension in economic, social and cultural domains) are also rapidly emerging. Some authors introduced the term “glocalisa- 8 tion” , exactly for stressing the co-presence of these two apparently opposite trends. 8 Robertson R. (1995) Glocalization: Time-Space and Homogeneity-Heterogeneity. In Featherstone, M., Lash, S., Robertson, R. (eds), Global Modernities. London: Sage Publications. 28 • Increased importance of the affective-cognitive dimension. The “affective-cogni- Increasing importance tive dimension” (feelings, expectations, worldviews, knowledge, etc.) of the social of the affective-cognitive actors is getting a prominent role in all spheres of social life (politics, consumption, dimension economy, public administration, social relations, etc.), also thanks to the huge deve- lopments in mass communication and ICTs. The causal factors There are many causal factors that contributed to producing this overall shift in con- temporary society. In a sketchy and not exhaustive way, five main factors can be mentio- ned here. Demographic factors • Demographic factors. The impetuous population growth that occurred in the 20th century created a “critical mass” of population which produced a social pressure on state structures, administrations and services, progressively weakening them. Education • Education. Mass education greatly contributed to multiplying individuals’ capacity in coping with complex problems, in developing their own interpretations of reality, in interacting with public institutions, in choosing and taking decisions autonomously and in shaping and implementing their own personal orientations. Access to rights • Broadening access to rights. The increasing recognition of individuals as bearers of rights (civic rights, political rights and, after the Second World War, social rights) pre- viously limited to few social groups allowed all citizens to access “public arenas”, public services and provisions which were previously denied to them. This reinfor- ced the identity-building processes of people and increased the presence of citizens in organised forms within the public sphere. Technology • Technology. The escalating diffusion of powerful technologies at affordable costs hugely improved the capacity of individuals to influence and handle social and phy- sical reality surrounding them. Moreover, technology increased the physical mobili- ty of persons and goods as well as the opportunities to access communication and information. All these elements dramatically enhanced the range of choices and actions potentially available for individuals and groups. Mass consumption • Increase in mass consumption. The explosion of mass consumption, despite its distortive effects and risks of manipulation, strongly supported the rising of subjec- tivity of social actors. Actually, consumptions allowed people to concretely practice their own lifestyles and to facilitate the construction of their self-identity. 29 2 HOW SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY ARE CHANGING Like all institutions of modernity, science and technology are profoundly changing, moving in the same direction as the social system as a whole. Consequently, science- society relationships are changing too. Processes of change Different models have been developed to interpret these transformations, such as the 9 10 11 “Mode1/Mode2” model , that of post-academic science or the “Triple Helix” model . While they are very different from each other, these models together allow us to shed light on the main trends of change. Collectivisation • Diffusion of cooperative practices in scientific production. Research is increasin- gly a collective enterprise involving ever-enlarging spirals of scientists. Actually, it is claimed to match more complex research demands requiring, to be coped with, costly and sophisticated equipments which cannot be provided by single research institutions. Interaction among research institutions is practically unconstrained, thanks to ICTs. Contextualisation • Contextualisation. Research is increasingly “context-driven”, i.e. “is carried out in a context of application, arising from the very work of problem solving and not gover- 12 ned by the paradigms of traditional disciplines of knowledge” . Consequently, rese- arch is more and more “problem-focused”: it is no longer initiated by the interest of the scientist, but is aimed at coping with specific problems or exploiting a given opportunity. Socially-diffused • Socially-diffused research. There is a much greater diversity of the sites at which research knowledge is produced as well as of the types of knowledge produced. University is no longer the unique environment for research production 9 Gibbons, M., Limoges, C., Nowotny, H., Schwartzman, S, Scott, P., Trow, M. (1994) The new production of knowledge: the dynamics of science and research in contemporary societies. London: Sage Publications; Nowotny, H., Scott, P., Gibbons, M. (2001) Re-thinking Science: Knowledge and the Public in and Age of Uncertainty, Cambridge: Polity Press; Nowotny, H., Scott, P., Gibbons, M. (2003) ‘Mode 2 Revisited’: The New Production of Knowledge. Minerva, 41. 10 Ziman, J. (2000) Real Science. What it is, and what it means. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 11 Etzkowitz, H., Leydesdorff, L. (1998) The Endless Transition: A ‘Triple Helix’ of University - Industry – Government Relations. Minerva, 36; Etzkowitz, H., Leydesdorff, L. (2000) The dynamics of innovation: From National Systems and ‘Mode 2’ to a triple helix of university–industry–government relations. Research Policy, 29. 12 Limoges, C. (1996), L’université à la croisée des chemins: une mission à affirmer, une gestion à réfor- mer. Quebec: Actes du colloque ACFAS.CSE.CST, Gouvernement du Québec Ministère de l’Éducation. 30 • Trans-disciplinarity. Research is ever more trans-disciplinary in nature, while in the Trans-disciplinarity past it was narrowly carried out in specific disciplinary domains. Quality control • Quality control enlargement. Quality control systems are changing, involving other enlargement actors beyond peers (knowledge brokers, final users, etc.) and applying multiple assessment criteria. Accountability • Accountability. There is an increasing need for making science accountable towards a wide range of actors, with effects such as the proliferation of evaluation exercises and modification of research procedures (for example, disaggregation of trans-disci- plinary research in order to allow disciplinary-based evaluation). Utilitarianism • Utilitarianism. Research results are expected to have economic impacts. This does not mean only applied research is done, but rather that economic utility is applied as a parameter for any kind of research program. Therefore, a discovery is assessed for its commercial value, even before it is assessed for its scientific value. Political steering • Political steering. Policy makers show an increasing desire to lead the research pro- cess and to steer research priorities, both at the European (through the framework programs) and the national levels. Competitive access • Competitive access to resources. Access to public funds is increasingly based on to resources competitive procedures, grounded on multiple criteria. Bureaucratisation • Bureaucratisation. Research is growingly submitted to bureaucratic and administra- tive regulations and standardised procedures (related to, for example, work security, application for funds, evaluation and assessment, fraud control, management, etc.) Hybridisation • Hybridisation. Relationships between universities, governments and industries are increasingly closer and co-ordinated. This results in the creation of “hybrid” structu- res and institutions (such as academic spin-off, high-tech incubators, science and technology parks, etc.). Co-construction of Overall, these tendencies result in a closer and complex interaction between scien- science and society ce and society. A pivotal contribution, in this regard, has been given by the so-called “social-constructionist” approach, which decisively contributed to overcoming any deterministic view of science-society relationships: both the one, largely dominant in the past, understanding science as an autonomous and separate entity able to deterministical- ly inducing changes in the society; and the reverse one, undoubtedly less diffused, under- standing science as fully controlled by social processes, forces and actors. Rather, this approach allowed to highlight how science and society are involved in a sort of “co-con- struction” process, since the evolution of the one is increasingly influenced by that of the other, even if not without tensions, conflicts and contradictions. Emerging trends On the basis of the interpretations presented so far, some points deserving particular attention can be singled out. 31 Firstly, all interpretations show that transformations presently affecting science and The deepness technology are not partial or marginal, but deep and “systemic” in nature, radically altering of transformations the way in which research is done and modifying the same social meaning of science. “Techno-sciences” One of the most significant effects of these transformations is that, in the new context, science and technology have become inextricably intermingled or hybridised in some sense, giving birth to a unique “techno-scientific” system. Science is increasingly aimed at the technological product, while technology is increasingly based on scientific procedu- res and technology plays an increasing role in doing research. The shift from science to technology is no longer the output of a linear process proceeding from basic research to industrial development, allowing to mark the boundary where science ends and techno- logy starts. Science-society At the same time, these transformations have made science-society relationships co-evolution much more intense and complex. While, in the context of industrial society, science and society had few relations, being limited by social and institutional mechanisms (it is not by chance that university were viewed as an “ivory tower”), today, in the context of post-indu- strial society, they continuously interact at different levels, producing widespread pheno- mena of overlapping and hybridisation, but also conflicts and mutual rejection. Pursuing a harmonious science-society co-evolution, therefore, becomes particularly dif- ficult, even though increasingly necessary, since science more and more needs society and society, to develop, more and more needs science. Scientisation of society This enlarged and intensified interaction between science and society is reflected in the augmenting presence of science and technology in all sectors of society. It seems that a 13 “scientisation of society” is occurring, that is a massive diffusion within society of ever more powerful and low-cost technological products as well as a large penetration in the daily life of the universal principles and logics on which science is based. However, this pro- cess is also occurring in a contradictory way, producing conflicts, resistances and unbalan- ces which heavily influence the way in which science and technology are socially managed. Research as social This large array of processes makes research a matter which no longer involves only enterprise scientists or public agencies. Actually, scientific and technological research is becoming a complex social enterprise requiring to a greater extent close cooperation and free-flo- wing communication among many different social actors (researchers, decision-makers, financing institutions, research technicians, evaluators, research managers, enterprises, local administrations, scientific communicators, civil society bodies, ordinary citizens), each of them bearing specific interests, culture and representations of reality. 13 Schofer, E. (1999) The Rationalization of Science and the Scientization of Society: International Science Organizations, 1870-1995. In Boli, J., Thomas, G. (Eds.), Constructing World Culture: International Nongovernmental Organizations Since 1875. Stanford: Stanford University Press. 32 K CHAPTER’S KEY ISSUES • The growing importance of research reflects broader transformations which, main- ly since the 60s of the last century but with accelerating pace in the following deca- des, are affecting all contemporary societies. • Almost all the scholars agree in recognising weight and size of these transforma- tions, even though it is still open the debate on whether they are the signs of an overall overcoming of the industrial society towards a new type of society. About this shift, different interpretations have been developed (post-industrial society, information society, knowledge society, risk society, reflexive modernity, liquid socie- ty, post-modern society). • Notwithstanding the strong differences among them, these interpretations allow identifying a set of change processes, relatively unequivocal and well-defined in their core features. The most relevant of them is probably that of the modified rela- tionships between social actors (individuals or groups) and “social structures” (which they manifest themselves, for example, through social norms, behavioural models, social roles, values, etc.), producing a weakening and crisis of the “institu- tions of modernity” • Like all institutions of modernity, science is profoundly changing, moving in the same direction as the social system as a whole. Consequently, science-society rela- tionships are changing too. • To account for these transformations, different interpretative models have been developed, allowing to single out some overall trends of change within science and in science-society relations. • These models show how deep and systemic these transformations are. They are leading to new ways of scientific production, an increasing co-penetration between science and technology (techno-sciences), a profound modification of the social meanings attributed to scientific and technological research and more intense and often problematic relationships between science and society. • This large array of processes increasingly makes scientific and technological research a complex social enterprise requiring to a greater extent close cooperation and free-flowing communication among many different social actors. 33 As we already stressed, current transformations can put scientific and technological research at risk. In this chapter, this aspect is elaborated, focusing the attention on the risks that could derive from a poor or wrong management of these changes; risks that could affect both science and society. Two main critical areas can be identified here: • the first area is that of the “identity” of the scientific and technological research, that is the way in which research system controls and steers itself; • the second area is that of the adaptation of science to society. 1 THE IDENTITY OF RESEARCH The first critical area is that of identity. This concept is used here to refer to the capa- city of research, so to say, to get a control over the transformations which modify it from inside and to steer them towards specific desirable aims. As shown above, while traditional structures of research (its specific culture, operatio- nal procedures, social position, sources of authority, etc.) are weakening and even disap- pearing, the new ones find it hard to emerge. Therefore, steering the research processes appears even more difficult, at all levels (from the management of the smallest research groups up to the development of long- term European research policies). There are several factors that come into play. Patchy changes First of all, transformations affecting science and technology are not occurring every- where nor with the same intensity, they are not producing the same effects and their final outputs are not really predictable. For this reason, research less and less seems to be a unitary social institution, cha- racterised by a high level of uniformity and, therefore, by a consistent identity. On the con- trary, it appears to be a multifaceted entity, where diverging rules and social practices can coexist. Scientists, too, are no longer a relatively homogeneous social group as they were in the past and the ways in which they fulfil and view their role is now extremely variable. This means that pre-defined recipes for successful support of scientific and technological research do not exist; therefore, intervening in it requires to continuously combine action and analysis. 36 In Europe, this picture is further complicated by the presence of strong differences National differentiations among member states in the ways these transformations are interpreted and managed, even though, thanks to European institutions, important convergences are arising. These differences – which are, at the same time, a richness but also a risk for European research - are due to different factors, such as diverging scientific traditions, different structures of national research systems, diverse attitudes of people towards innovation, varied features of national economies and specific research policies devised at national or local levels. Poor awareness by It should also be remarked that the actors involved in the research processes (rese- the actors of research arch institutions, scientists, research managers, etc.) are usually not fully aware of the and policy makers changes affecting science and technology and of their short-term and long-term implica- tions. Moreover, actors’ reactions to change are diverging (ignoring it, resisting it, accep- ting it selectively, etc.). The same can be said about policy makers. Most of them ignore the current evolutionary trends of research; their attitudes and strategies are often diver- ging and not so rarely inconsistent. This appears to be particularly serious since – as alrea- dy highlighted – policy makers increasingly show a desire to directly steer the research pro- cess. Expert knowledge and Another factor influencing the “identity” of research is the growing pressure on rese- post-normal science arch institutions (primarily enacted by governments and international institutions, but also by important sectors of the public and of civil society) to address complex high- impact problems (related to health, environment, energy, and the like) and to be more committed to policy making processes. Consequently, increasing attention is devoted to the nature and role of “expert knowledge” in social life and in policy making, with spe- cial reference to its actual use in the different sectors and its relationships with “ordinary knowledge”. In this same framework the large debate on so-called “post-normal science” can be understood as well. This is on the epistemological ground, procedures and rules characterising research in cases where “facts are uncertain, values in dispute, stakes high 1 and decisions urgent” . Beyond these overall considerations, there are some specific risks deserving particu- 2 lar attention . Mis-steering The main risk is that of “mis-steering”, i.e. the scarce capacity of decision makers (be they scientists or not) to adequately lead the research sector (box 3.1.). This is due to, e.g. an inadequate knowledge of research dynamics and mechanisms, wrong choices among conflicting priorities, under- or over-estimation of given research sectors in terms of eco- nomic potential, lack of scientific culture or failures in identifying or mobilising key actors. Shortage of adequate This kind of risk is worsened by the shortage and bad use of professional figures skills and expertise increasingly necessary in the research process. In the European research base, for exam- ple, there are problems with the presence and effective use of professionals with skills and 1 Funtowicz, S., Ravetz, J.R., Post-normal Science. The Encyclopedia of Earth, (www.eoearth.org/article/Post-Normal_ Science) 2 See SS-ERC Project (2007) Final Research Report, (http://www.techresp.eu) 37 expertise on, e.g. research management, university-enterprise relationships, European funding process, scientific communication, management of large research networks, high- tech incubators, technology screening or academic spin-off. In this way, on the one side, scientists risk to be damaged in their research activities (since they have to take an over- load of work) and, on the other side, there is an increase in research costs as well as waste of time and resources. Box 3.1 VOICES OF RESEARCHERS: MIS-STEEERING S Many people here are stressing the extreme power of politics on research. I do not see it. Rather, I see the weakness of politics. There is a gap in the policy makers’ capacity in guiding the research sector, in assessing the weight and potentials of the research projects, in embedding research within policy programs (Italy) It’s a problem that the government doesn’t know the inside of research problems, so they aren’t capable of asking the right questions and they can only stick to their (different) perspective (Netherlands) (Policymakers) still think in linear models and input-output models. Policymakers have expectations that are often unrealistic, in particular to some fields of science (Denmark) Other risks are wrong prioritisation of research areas and waste of resources – narrow prioritisation that may have consequences for future research, or funding allo- cated only to areas which are “in” (example: nano-technology). (Denmark). Because of a lack of goals, (at the European level) there are no choices made. They are trying to satisfy all parties and not society in general. There’s a lack of decisions and learning from mistakes. Too many countries and inadequate skills prevent learn- ing and advancement (Netherlands) Political leaders are unprepared. They still continue “to think analogically”; there- fore, they cannot imagine the future in a “digital way” (Italy) (passages drawn from the interviews conducted in the framework of the SS-ERC project) Over-steering Another risk is the tendency by policy makers to over-steer research. This could result in different kinds of negative effects such as conflicts, forms of subordination of researchers to policy makers, useless and/or uncoordinated evaluation exercises, psycho- logical stress among researchers. This phenomena have been already recorded in differ- 38 ent national contexts (e.g., Denmark, the Netherlands), also with reference to the European research policies. Rhetorical steering There is also the risk that policy makers could use the increasing significance of sci- ence as a symbolic tool to be used in the political arena and in public debate. There is a “rhetoric” about the centrality of science and innovation which sometimes generates a “rhetorical steering” of research, that is an action aimed at increasing the political control on research but not interested in supporting research or in pursuing specific objectives. This often results in measures and programs carried out without following precise strate- gies and even without investing the necessary resources. Box 3.2 VOICES OF RESEARCHERS: OVER-STEERING AND RHETORICAL STEERING S Another central risk is the growing wish/need among politicians to manage and control research. Of course there is a legitimate demand for knowledge - the return of the investment from the taxpayers, but there is a need to understand that research and new findings - to a certain extent - cannot be planned and orchestrated top-down (Denmark) Thus, there is quite a wide gap between the bureaucrats who have to ‘score’ short-term, and the scientists who are more driven by the progress of science and try to adept just enough to qualify for the funding (Netherlands) A central risk is that related to mercerisation of the research – because it represents a threat to the creativity and independency of the research communities and in the long run could produce less fruitful results (in spite of the growing investments and societal interest in research) (Denmark) The problem which we encounter in practice arises from the fact that in everyday life the need for science is mainly declarative: more science is needed, more infor- mation is needed and this is what will make Slovenia more competitive. In practice, concretely, i.e. in the operative sense, it is much harder (Slovenia) There is the danger of over steering of research in both industry and academic settings (…) One should not depart from the principle of trust: one should trust the intelligence of science and the ability of scientists to think reasonably, to not push them and make them obey politicians and bureaucrats (Netherlands) In this context (of political centralisation of research), the researchers are asked only to implement what is required by the economic intelligence (Italy) 39 European laws and regulations in any area are too much. Too many rules, too much red tape, and this hinders innovation. The huge amount of bureaucracy takes time and also decreases creativity. (Netherlands) While we are debating on the centrality of the research, we are cutting the public investments on research (Italy) (passages drawn from the interviews conducted in the framework of the SS-ERC project) Free-riding by private Also the orientations of the private sector could carry some risks (box 3.3.). The most firms relevant of them is that enterprises, especially small and medium-size ones, although the context may be favourable to them, still face great difficulties in investing in research and in linking up with the research sector. This sometimes generates a real tendency to free- riding: companies try not to take the risks linked to scientific research (necessarily high) waiting or actively acting for transferring these risks on the shoulders of public actors (through public incentives to innovation, public funded initiatives to facilitate university- industry relations, forms of knowledge spill-overs from public research institutions, etc.). Box 3.3 VOICES OF RESEARCHERS: ENTERPRISES AND RESEARCH S Smaller companies do not realise the benefits good knowledge management brings. The absorptive capacity of companies is limited but they do not think this is a real problem (Netherlands). The interest of enterprises is only utilitarian (…). They are not involved with research but mainly with the technological development in the short run (Italy) (There are) few initiatives of private companies to increase R&D.(Spain) There is a poor sharing of responsibility, mostly on the part of the private sector. Companies in the Netherlands do not keep up with their R&D expenditure (Netherlands) I do not see enterprises which are particularly mobilised on research issues. This is mainly a problem of the lack of scientific culture (Italy). (passages drawn from the interviews conducted in the framework of the SS-ERC project) 40

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