Making nano matter: an inquiry into the discourses of governable science
Science, Technology and Human Values
The paper examines science-policy conversations mediated by social science in attempts to govern, or set up terms for, scientific research. The production of social science research accounts about science faces challenges in the domains of emerging technosciences, such as nano. Constructing notions of success and failure, participants in science actively engage in the interpretation of policy notions, such as the societal relevance of their research. Industrial engagement is one of the prominent themes both in policy renditions of governable science, and in the participants’ attempts to achieve societally relevant research, often oriented into the future. How do we, as researchers, go about collecting, recording, and analysing such future stories? I examine a series of recent interviews conducted in a number of US universities, and in particular at a university campus on the West Coast of the US. The research engages participants through interviews, which can be understood as occasions for testing the interpretive flexibility of nano as ‘good’ scientific practice and of what counts as societal relevance, under what circumstances and in view of what kind of audiences.
Author's pre-print version dated 2011. Final version published by Sage; available online at http://online.sagepub.com/
November 2012 vol. 37 no. 6 604-626