Read the Monthly Editorial of October 2018

Technosciences and Citizen Participation by Jean-Claude RUANO-BORBALAN1 and Bertrand BOCQUET2

This last half-century has seen a considerable development of institutional interfaces, public or private, with the techno-scientific and industrial sphere, particularly through the establishment of powerful public research and innovation policies in the main OECD countries. This movement was accompanied by a growing optimization of the procedures for the production of scientific knowledge, disciplinary definitions (the Frascati nomenclature of the OECD, for example), as well as “products” resulting from scientific or techno-scientific activities: articles, conferences or patents. This “great standardization” of science and technoscience has gone through an internationalization and comparability (more and more significant assessment). Its explicit aim is to ensure a better efficiency of knowledge transfer processes towards economically solvent activities and seeking a strong “industrial utility”. This optimization and rationalization of scientific and innovation systems is the subject of a growing number of research, both to understand the scope and to improve the analysis, as well as to propose models that can be transposed.

Today, the OECD, like the European Union or the various ministries of research and industry, and finally the cities and territorial governments, promote extremely sophisticated “national systems of research and innovation”, intended in European rhetoric for example, to respond to contemporary “challenges” and according to all institutions to develop economic growth.

These institutions and the established public policies have accompanied the implementation of a variety of tools and devices ranging from technology transfer to the creation of incubators, from the increasingly complex management of portfolios of intellectual property to direct and organized support for entrepreneurial creativity. These policies and institutions have had massive and widespread effects, in terms of technological or industrial development, but remain essentially in the form of linear innovation processes, both industrial and management.

However, we have seen for about half a century, ideological and political changes related to the deepening of individualization in “post-modernity”, reinforcing the sensitivities to risks of all kinds (health, environment, etc.). We are also witnessing transformations in the forms of political and social mobilization (conception of the common good and democracy, for example). Lastly, there are strong developments, the most striking and innovative of which are in the context of a more deliberative and “participative” democracy. In return, and through a feedback loop phenomenon, this re-appropriation movement necessarily impacts production and scientific or technical institutions and, of course, the nature and policies of innovation.

For more analysis:

1 Laboratoire Histoire des Technosciences en Société, CNAM, Paris, France,
2 Laboratoire Histoire des Technosciences en Société, CNAM, Université de Lille, France,

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