Dreamscapes of ModernitySociotechnical Imaginaries and the Fabrication of Power

Dreamscapes of ModernitySociotechnical Imaginaries and the Fabrication of Power

Sheila Jasanoff and Sang-Hyun Kim

Print publication date: 2016

ISBN: 9780226276496

Publisher: University of Chicago Press

Abstract

This volume introduces the concept of sociotechnical imaginaries to help explain the divergent ways in which states and societies conceptualize futures achievable through and supportive of advances in science and technology. Sociotechnological imaginaries add a new dimension to work in anthropology and political theory dealing with collective beliefs about social order. Work in these fields has not been properly attentive to the role of science and technology in shaping human possibilities. At the same time, sociotechnical imaginaries supplement more micro-focused work in Science and Technology Studies (STS), showing how developments in science and technology take place within wider cultural understandings of how societies ought to live, and how such developments are bound up with existing structures of normativity and power. Through a mix of case studies, together with a theoretical introduction and a synoptic conclusion, the volume demonstrates how the concept of sociotechnical imaginaries can lead to more sophisticated understandings of the politics of science and technology. The case studies illustrate how different imaginations of the goals, priorities, benefits and risks of social life are co-produced along with the construction of science and technology—at scales ranging from institutional to national to global. Chapters ask how the work of collective imagining responds to and accommodates some of the salient political challenges of modernity: democracy, the expert/lay divide, novel understandings of life, public ethics, and institutional accountability. The book thereby opens up a fertile space for the comparative analysis of science, technology, politics, and political cultures, as well as for methodological cross-fertilization among diverse STS-related disciplines.