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Technoscience is a concept widely used in the interdisciplinary community of science and technology studies to designate the technological and social context of science. The notion indicates a common recognition that scientific knowledge is not only socially coded and historically situated but sustained and made durable by material (non-human) networks.
"Technoscience" is a term coined by French philosopher Gaston Bachelard in 1953. It was popularized in the French-speaking world by Belgian philosopher Gilbert Hottois in the late 1970s/early 1980s, and entered common usage in English in the early 2000s.
Conceptual levels of technoscience
We look at the concept of technoscience by considering three levels: a descriptive-analytic level, a deconstructivist level, and a visionary level.
On a descriptive-analytic level, technoscientific studies examine the decisive role of science and technology in how knowledge is being developed. What is the role played by large research labs in which experiments on organisms are undertaken, when it comes to a certain way of looking at the things surrounding us? To what extent do such investigations, experiments and insights shape the view on ‘nature’, and on ‘our’ bodies? How do these insights link to the concept of living organisms as biofacts? To what extent do such insights inform technological innovation? Can the laboratory be understood as a metaphor for social structures in their entirety?
On a deconstructive level, theoretical work is being undertaken on technoscience to address scientific practices critically, e.g. by Bruno Latour (sociology), by Donna Haraway (history of science), and by Karen Barad (theoretical physics). It is pointed out that scientific descriptions may be only allegedly objective; that descriptions are of a performative character, and that there are ways to de-mystify them. Likewise, new forms of representing those involved in research are being sought.
On a visionary level, the concept of technoscience comprises a number of social, literary, artistic and material technologies from western cultures in the third millennium. This is undertaken in order to focus on the interplay of hitherto separated areas and to question traditional boundary-drawing: this concerns the boundaries drawn between scientific disciplines as well as those commonly upheld for instance between research, technology, the arts and politics. One aim is to broaden the term ‘technology’ (which by the Greek etymology of ‘techné’ connotes all of the following: arts, handicraft, and skill) so as to negotiate possibilities of participation in the production of knowledge and to reflect on strategic alliances. Technoscience can be juxtaposed with a number of other innovative interdisciplinary areas of scholarship which have surfaced in these recent years such as technoetic, technoethics and technocriticism.
- Gaston Bachelard, La materialisme rationel, Paris: PUF, 1953.
- Don Ihde, Expanding Hermeneutics: Visualism in Science, Northwestern University Press, 1999, p. 8.
- James M. M. Good, Irving Velody, The Politics of Postmodernity, Cambridge University Press, 1998, p. 178.
- See for example: Ginette Verstraete, Tim Cresswell, Mobilizing Place, Placing Mobility: The Politics of Representation in a Globalized World, Rodopi, 2002, p. 20.
- For the idea of discerning levels see Mangelsdorf's initial article version of 17 June 2005: http://de.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Technoscience&oldid=6476436
- Hottois, Gilbert (1984). Le signe et la technique. La philosophie à l’épreuve de la technique, Paris, Aubier Montaigne, Coll. «Res - L’invention philosophique», p. 59-60.
- Latour, Bruno (1987). Science in Action: How to Follow Scientists and Engineers Through Society. Harvard University Press. ISBN 0-674-79291-2
- Latour, Bruno and Steve Woolgar (1979). Laboratory Life: the Social Construction of Scientific Facts. Princeton University Press. ISBN 0-691-09418-7
- James Van Bebber, a leading specialist in technoscience
- Schaff, Adam (1990). A sociedade informática: as conseqüências sociais da segunda revolução industrial. Editora Brasiliense. ISBN 85-11-14081-6
- Sismondo, Sergio (2004). An Introduction to Science and Technology Studies. Blackwell Publishing. ISBN 978-0-631-23444-9
- Ihde, Don (2003). Chasing Technoscience: Matrix for Materiality. Indiana University Press. ISBN 0-253-21606-0
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