Sculpting Responsibility? Historicising Nanoscience and Technology Development in Attendant Research and Innovation Ethics
Other conference contribution, 2020

This paper surveys the literature on responsible research and innovation (RRI), exploring how it emerges from the normative predecessors of ethical, legal and societal aspects (ELSA), anticipatory governance and upstream engagement, specifically in the context of nanoscience and technology. The literature study – which will focus on both academic papers and policy documents – seeks to identify and critique narratives regarding the manifold rationales for responsibility in the field of nanotechnology. This will extend to broader narratives about environment and society in relation to such technoscientific development. This focus is motivated by the fact that the field, since its very emergence, has juxtaposed technoscientific exploration with concerted and highly motivated efforts to introduce RRI practices, influenced by scholars within science and technology studies as well as social science. Further, nano-technosciences can now provoke discussions relevant to analogous, albeit less mature, “key emerging technologies” through emerging historicity. In exploring the above-mentioned narratives, the paper will interrogate how narratives around RRI can be situated historically in relation to particular problematics that emerged in the context of nanotechnology. Second, the paper will explore the extent to which narratives are informed by concepts and debates within recent social research, such as neoliberal governance (-00s) and risk society/reflexive modernisation (-90s). Third, the paper seeks to analyse these narratives by revisiting classic/seminal social scientific concepts, for instance, “ideology” (Mannheim) and “legitimation crisis” (Habermas).


Nicholas Surber

Chalmers, Technology Management and Economics, Science, Technology and Society

Karl Palmås

Chalmers, Technology Management and Economics, Science, Technology and Society

Rickard Arvidsson

Chalmers, Technology Management and Economics, Environmental Systems Analysis

4S / EASST annual meeting
Prague, Czech Republic,

Mistra Environmental Nanosafety Phase II

The Swedish Foundation for Strategic Environmental Research (Mistra) (2013/48), 2019-04-01 -- 2023-03-31.

Subject Categories

Sociology (excluding Social work, Social Psychology and Social Anthropology)

Social Sciences Interdisciplinary

Driving Forces

Sustainable development

Areas of Advance

Nanoscience and Nanotechnology

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