Call fr Papers: Panel ‚Science and Expertise as an Action Tool of Techno-Critical Movements. What is it? Who uses it? To what effect?‘ at the Interpretative Policy Analysis Conference (IPA) 2013 Conference in Vienna, 3-5 July 2013, panel organizer: Franz Seifert

The overall topic of this conference deals with the conflicting relationship between publics, experts and politics. For the two research traditions that come together on this topic-interpretive policy analysis (IPA) and science and technology studies (STS)-the notion of expert- or scientific knowledge respectively is a key term. This panel looks at this notion, particularly as it pertains to the conflict over new technologies and the environment, from the perspective of public opposition or, more specifically, social movements.

The innovative aspect here is the interlinkage between science and technology studies and social movement research, or more tangibly: how do NGOs and other activists, who engage in sciento-technological struggles (nuclear, GMOs, climate change etc.), make use of scientific expertise? So, in case you have thought, worked, done research, published about this subject, or simply a wonderful idea, and would like to discuss it in a presumably small circle of peers, you are very welcome to submit a paper proposal.

While it has been established that ‚public opposition‘ has become a factor to be reckoned with in the governance of new technologies, little research has been conducted which empirically investigates this opposition. Who, actually, opposes new technologies? As this is obviously not ‚the public‘ in its entirety but rather social movements, how do these movements, or particular actors within these movements, relate to the wider public? How do they pursue their goals, which are their strategies and challenges, resources and constraints, successes and failures? Established traditions in social research, such as the sociology of social problems and social movement research, offer concepts and sometimes answers. As STS and IPA enter into dialogue on the issue of conflict and knowledge they can benefit from these traditions.

The session deals with a specific phenomenon on which these approaches might be brought bear: the use techno-critical movements make of science and expertise. Social movements are known to command a wide repertoire of action (Tilly) such as demonstrations, rallies, petitions, direct action, legal measures etc. The employment of science and expertise can be one among these action forms. We expect techno-critical movements to make use of science and expertise. One case in point is risk: the regulation of new technologies typically hinges on technological risks to man and the environment, which is why the political conflict around these technologies puts a premium on the scientific expertise on these risks. How do movements within movements make use of this scientific expertise? Movements cannot be considered as actors, rather they are made up of a variety of actors who employ specific sets of strategies and entertain a complex web of relationships with other actors. Who are the actors who focus on scientific expertise and how do they relate to other actors within the same movement? Is the use of scientific expertise the prerogative of ‚mainstream actors‘, or do ‚the radicals‘ within a movement engage in science too? Do movements merely exploit scientific expertise that is generated by academic or other accredited institutions? Or are they themselves active in the production of critical scientific expertise? How do techno-critical movements interact with the established institutions of knowledge production? Does their influence reach into these institutions, or are they kept at bay? Do they contest these institutions‘ epistemic boundaries, or do they strategically exploit expert authority for their own purposes? If actors who are part of specific movements slip into the role of ‚experts‘, which is the nature of their expertise? And which is the nature of expertise required for the elaboration of alternative discursive frames for technological development? Which are the conditions that render this expertise politically effective?

Invited are empirical case studies that examine how movements or the actors make up these movements make use of, or even generate science and expertise in techno-scientific controversies; also invited are conceptual essays that effectively tackle these questions. Note that most techno-scientific controversies do not result in outright movements accompanied by broad public mobilizations, such as was the case in the controversy over nuclear energy or agro-food biotechnology. Movements, however, can often generate spin-offs which case studies might examine as well.

Please send abstracts of no more than 500 words via the website.

The deadline has been extended to 5 March!

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