28 - 31 August 2013
Torino, Italy

RN24 – Science and Technology

Katarina Prpić katarina@idi.hr Institute for Social Research, Zagreb, Croatia
Harald Rohracher rohracher@tugraz.at Department of Technology and Social Change, Linköping University, Sweden

Public Science, Corporate Science and Technology in Times of Crisis

The multi-faceted character of the present crisis means that its economic as well as social and political dimensions are felt in everyday life all over the world. At the same time, the crisis has been reflected in social discontent and protest, but also in intellectual critique. The traditional image of science and technology as the salutary tools of social and human progress and welfare has been fading in the public perception and in critical S&T studies.

In contrast to this social and scientific controversy or ambivalence, transnational (EU) and national science, technology and innovation policies are often perceived by power, political and business elites as the agents for crisis overcoming. Therefore (participatory) science governance models have become a crucial issue at the (trans)national level, not only politically but also socially and economically.

There is also a traditional dichotomy between non-profit (public) and for-profit (corporate) science, with potentially different impacts on European societies. This applies in particular to the gap between techno-economically developed countries and less developed post-socialist countries with predominant public sectors, or the turbulent southern (European) economies. On the other hand, the opposite social roles of the public and private sectors of S&T have been argued about. Some models and authors imply or claim that the relationship between these sectors is changing and that the private sector has become socially more open, accountable and transparent.

Thus the public – private sector issue is a techno-scientific as well as an economic and social question of the utmost importance, especially in crisis times. It includes the general and specific differences and similarities between the sectors in their knowledge production and evaluation, in their societal role, social organization and power distribution, in socio-cultural milieus, in research personnel composition and recruiting, motivating and rewarding, in career development etc.

The Sociology of Science and Technology Network (SSTNET) invites papers to its sessions which deal with the topics of the public and private S&T sectors, techno-economic and techno-scientific development, science and society relationships and (participatory) governance in crisis. Papers may also touch on any of the following general issues raising conceptual and/or empirical questions:

  • the role of (public) science in a multi-faceted crisis
  • knowledge production and social organization in public and/or private S&T sectors
  • socio-technical change and development and the present crisis
  • new trends and rhetoric in science and technology policies
  • innovation agendas in the context of global economic competitiveness
  • new and emerging techno-sciences
  • the future of public science, university and academy
  • intellectual property and other rights, S&T and social tension
  • international cooperation in S&T and the crisis
  • the scientific labour market, international mobility and gender issues
  • resource allocation in crisis

Papers addressing these and other topics from a sociological, other social or interdisciplinary perspectives, are welcomed. PhD students’ submissions are especially encouraged. Authors are invited to submit their abstracts to the general session. Specific sessions will be created a posteriori.


Thank you very much to all participants for making esa torino an outstanding conference.