"Risky entanglements? Contemporary research cultures imagined and practised"

09.06.2010 - 11.06.2010

International Conference, organized by the Department of Social Studies of Science

Key Speakers:

    Philip Campbell (Editor-in-Chief, Nature)
    Ulrike Felt (University of Vienna)
    Lisa Garforth (Newcastle University)
    Pierre-Benoît Joly (INRA, Paris)
    Mike Michael (Goldsmiths, University of London)
    Helga Nowotny (European Research Council)
    Steven Shapin (Harvard University)
    Ruth Wodak (Lancaster University)

    Registration Fee: 65€ / 35€ reduced

    Online registration closed - on-site registration possible


Public Opening Event (free entrance)

Brave New Research Worlds? Living and Working in Contemporary Research
9 June 2010, 18:00-20:00, Albert Schweitzer Haus
Panel Discussion with Philip Campbell (Editor-in-Chief, Nature), Ulrike Felt (University of Vienna), Helga Nowotny (European Research Council), Giulio Superti-Furga (CeMM, Vienna) and Ruth Wodak (Lancaster University)

Conference Schedule | Book of Abstracts

Call for Papers

Recent key macro studies agree that scientific research is increasingly entangled in various societal rationales. On the one hand, these analyses should be understood within the context of the growing importance attributed to scientific and technological innovation for shaping contemporary societies. On the other hand, society‘s readiness to contribute to an innovation-friendly climate is considered a key-asset for materializing this imagined progress. For both issues, the human side of science, thus researchers and their way of doing research, their values and their readiness to engage with both science and society, is perceived as essential.
As this unfolds on a global scale, it is interesting to observe within research policy and science institutions the convergence of various discourses that stress and imagine what seem to be the key values or myths guiding research today: excellence, accountability, mobility, flexibility, ethical conduct, societal relevance or application orientation, to mention but a few.  However, far too little analytic attention has been devoted to
(1) how these broad and ostensibly universal notions impinge on different work and knowledge production cultures, (2) how specific local histories and contingencies play out in practice, (3) how these global changes get refracted locally and personally, and (4) how all this re-frames what being a researcher today actually means. This lack seems astonishing given the importance the ‘human factor’ is attributed in current policy discourses around innovation.

This conference invites contributions that address change and continuity of work and knowledge production cultures in research, and ask in which processes ethical, societal and economic rationales shape these very cultures. Of particular interest are contributions that are combining more refined empirical analyses with broader theoretical frameworks of change.  By combining works that address different regional-historical contexts and different scientific fields, the conference’s explicit goal is to open up comparative perspectives, thus contributing to a broader understanding of contemporary research cultures.


Conference Themes

Research Cultures and Regimes of Innovation

How do academic and economic/corporate logics intersect and interact in today’s research environment?  Which new hybrid institutions between “academia” and “industry” arise and how is knowledge production structured in these contexts? Which roles do patents and the ownership of knowledge play in this? What are the contemporary specificities of spaces and places where knowledge is actually produced and communicated?

The Social and Temporal Organisation of Research

How has the social and temporal organisation of research changed? Which new roles and responsibilities for researchers come along with these changes? Which broader institutional changes frame these new forms of temporal and social organisation? How does this impinge on research practice?

Ethics in (Research) Practice

How do ethical considerations figure in actual research processes? Where are spaces and places where ethics is pondered and debated? How do institutional “ethical” processes (e.g. in journals or committees) impinge on research culture and practice? What are the intentions and the effects of formulating and codifying what good scientific practices are? What are the tensions arising between a global vision of science and local ethical understandings?

Biographies and Careers in Science

How do scientists envision and plan their careers and how do institutions shape this process? How “transgressive” are careers to other fields of employment? In how far have scientific biographies changed over the past decades, and how does this impinge on actual research practice? Which role do social, ethical and economic considerations play in these processes?

Rituals of Assessing Academic Work

How do new notions of quality and the rituals of ascribing and monitoring it reshape academic biographies and actual research practice? Which new forms of stratification are introduced in particular through audit and ranking practives? Does academic audit contribute to transparency and social robustness, or does it produce closure towards society?

Socialising Future Researchers for a New Kind of Science?

How are the professional norms and values of one generation of scientists transferred to the next? How are changes in culture and practice of the sciences reflected in the socialisation of young scientists? What role do ethical as well as socio-economic considerations play in these socialisation processes? Are there any ruptures in this process?

Economies of Promise: Imagined Futures as a Resource of Science

What role does the ever-increasing importance of promised future societal benefit play in scientific practice? How do these envisioned socio-scientific futures change how scientists approach problems and structure their research? Which institutional constellations are relevant in this economy of promises? Do particular funding policies have an impact on economies of promise and imagined futures?

Public Debates and Research Cultures

How do broader societal debates influence research practice? How does the increasing media coverage of science and scientists impinge on their self-understanding and their actual work? What images of scientific work and research practice arise from media representations of research in science and the humanities? Does public engagement influence research cultures, and in which processes?


Institut für Wissenschafts- und Technikforschung

Albert Schweitzer Haus