ISA World Congress of Sociology, Yokohama, Japan, July 2014

Research Committee on
Sociology of Science and Technology, RC23

RC23 main page

Co-Program Coordinators

Program Coordinating Committee

Number of allocated sessions including Business Meeting: 18.


For sessions program and schedule see

On-line congress program


Assessing Technologies: Global Patterns of Trust and Distrust

Session Organizer
Antonio BRANDAO MONIZ, Institute for Technology Assessment and Systems Analysis, Germany,
Christina GOETZ, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Germany,
Constanze SCHERZ, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Germany,
Nuno BOAVIDA, Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Portugal,

Session in English

In modern societies technologies are the basis for economic welfare. They shape the everyday life of human beings. In most cases, technologies are invented, implemented and applied in an unquestioned way. However, the experience of severe technical accidents, environmental catastrophes, and failed projects has led to a loss of the general confidence in the function and services of technological systems.

What we observe today is a paradox attitude regarding technology. On the one hand, technology has become a vital part of societal infrastructures and is very much embedded and accepted into the individual practices of our everyday life. On the other hand, public resistance arises against technological developments in general or against large technical infrastructure projects in particular.

The lack of confidence is related to the governance of technological systems, be it the invention, the implementation, the usage, or the regulation. It seems to be that a general distrust in institutions and in the respective processes of decision making has become a powerful global pattern in all parts of the world, which leads to a variety of strategies in coping with the paradox experience with technology: from attempts to avoid technologies via evolving ways of participation to open conflicts in the form of protest.


Emerging Sociological and Social Psychological Perspectives on Science and Technology

Session Organizers
Carl Martin ALLWOOD, Sweden,
Sven HEMLIN, Sweden,

Session in English

Not open for submission of abstracts.
Social Psychology of Science and Technology is a field that is relatively new adding scientific knowledge to the more established history, philosophy and sociology of science. The field has an academic home in the International Society for the Psychology of Science and Technology (ISPST). It “refers to thought and behavior of any person or people (present or past) of any age (from infants to the elderly) engaged in theory construction, learning scientific or mathematical concepts, model building, hypothesis testing, scientific reasoning, problem finding or solving, or creating or working on technology” (ISPST website, 2013).

In this symposium new research on the social psychology of science will be presented by scholars from Europe and the USA. We have gathered scholars of psychology and sociology that conduct empirical research on individual scientists, research groups as well as on their institutional and cultural settings. The contributions all start from the assumption that creative research performance is both novel and of good quality that needs to be recognized by different actors.

The symposium will bring new results on how creativity in research is fostered on the micro as well as on the macro levels of organizing, how indigenous psychologies develop and how industrial research and development may lead to innovations.


Fostering Trans-Disciplinarity amongst the Social and Natural Sciences, Engineering, Arts and Design

Session Organizers
Benjamín TEJERINA MONTANA, Universidad del País Vasco, Spain,
Cristina MIRANDA DE ALMEIDA, Universidad del País Vasco, Spain,

Session in English

Not open for submission of abstracts.
The Network for Science, Engineering, Arts and Design, (SEAD), a U.S. National Science Foundation supported group, has launched an initiative to raise awareness of the impacts, values, opportunities and challenges of cross-disciplinary research and creative work. Following on a vision initiative first developed in 2010, an International White Papers Working Group was formed to issue an open call for White Papers. This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No.1142510, Collaborative Research: EAGER: Network for Science, Engineering, Arts and Design (NSEAD) IIS, Human Centered Computing. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

The objective of this proposed session is twofold. First, we will present the results of the Open Call for White Papers collected from over 50 papers received from 24 countries. We will summarize the meta-view of needs, opportunities and recommendations concerning trans-disciplinary collaboration in the confluence of the Sciences, Engineering, Arts and Design. Second, we will invite inquiry from other researchers. Therefore, in addition to presenting a first set of pre-selected papers that focus on different models and case-studies for trans-disciplinarity in research and in creative practice (see list of authors below), the session welcomes new papers and will be organised around the following research questions:
  1. what are some impacts resulting from trans-disciplinary collaboration between sciences, engineering, arts and design in relation to current research practices?
  2. What are some opportunities and roadblocks related to trans-disciplinary collaboration for individuals and organizations, including government, industry, civic and academic institutions (for example, blended forms of informal and formal learning, and rethinking the distinction between Art, Science and Technology departments in educational institutions)?
  3. How can trans-disciplinary collaboration practices and actions better support research around complex problems?
  4. How can SEAD include Humanities in general and Sociology in particular?
We are seeking to survey concerns, roadblocks and opportunities, and solicit recommendations for enhancing collaboration engaging the sciences and engineering with arts and design.


Gender and Science in the South: A Comparative Assessment of Gender Equality in the Knowledge Society

Session Organizer
Alice ABREU, Brazil,

Session in English

Not open for submission of abstracts.
The Symposium will present the results of five National Assessments on Gender and STI that took place during 2012 with funding of the Elsevier Foundation: Brazil, India, Indonesia, The Republic of Korea and South Africa.

The assessments were based on the Gender Equality-Knowledge Sociey (GE&KS) indicator framework, which was developed to address the fact that worldwide women’s capacity to participate in science, technology and innovation is grossly under-developed and under-utilized. It brings together gender-sensitive data on key areas in the knowledge society (ICT, science, technology and innovation) with gender indicators of health, economic and social status to assess the barriers and opportunities for women.

The major finding of the assessments is that the knowledge gender divide continues to exist in all countries, even those which have a highly-developed knowledge society. Countries in the South are failing to include women to an equal extent. They are not different, however, from the leading knowledge-based economies in the world, such as the USA and the European Union, which were also part of the study. Discussants from these regions will allow to highlight the similarities between developed and developing societies in this area.


Higher Education as a Key Driver of Innovation and Economic Growth

Session Organizers
Katarina PRPIC, Croatia,
Nadia ASHEULOVA, Institute for the History of Science and Technology, Russia,

Session in English

Not open for submission of abstracts.
This session will build on the body of work presented in the ESA SSTNET Program at its meeting in Torino, August 2013. It will continue a focus developed in Torino dealing with the ambivalence involved in transnational scientific activity. Also, as in Torino, it will explore the implications of the traditional dichotomy between non-profit (public) and for-profit (corporate) science and their different impacts on social and economic development and the eleviation of inequalities.

While it is anticipated that the session will include some of the presenters from the ESA conference, the session will also seek presenters from other world regions, notably Asian, Africa, South America and North America.


ICTs and Social Inequalities

Session Organizer
Binay Kumar PATTNAIK, Indian Institute of Technology, India,

Session in English

Globalization as a comprehensive process of economic and social change is of course inclusive of the effects of ICT revolution. The first phase of the said revolution (in Asian countries in particular) known as ‘IT revolution’ took place in the 1980s and its second phase known as the ‘ICT revolution’ followed in the next decade, mid 1990s. Enough empirical studies have already pointed out that this ICT revolution has serious implications for social inequality in general and social stratification in particular that perpetuates itself through the use of new technologies of ICT in developing countries.

The emergence of these new technologies have brought changes of social structural relevance (in many Asian countries) as it has given rise to a class of new entrepreneurs /capitalists, and a new set of occupations with corresponding class of new workforce that has come to be known as ICT workers. Lastly, the changes unleashed by the ICT revolution (digital divide of 2nd order) has given rise to E-litism as well as a Mall Culture (which is based on the extensive use of ICT) that has brought forth the social class divide in consumption too.

Description of the session: Hence the proposed session has scope for articulating ICT induced changes with implications for social inequality (of structural nature):
  1. Rise of the new class of entrepreneurs/ capitalist earlier unknown, Rise of a new class of workforce called the knowledge workers (working in the Call Centres, BPOs, KPOs, etc) and their vulnerabilities. Feminisation of the ICT sector and their low remunerations, Digital divide (of the 2nd order) creating E-litism.
  2. ICT and the surveillance, monitoring daily lives by the government/ employers, banks, Malls, airlines, etc (and by collecting personal data) making common citizens vulnerable objects, the Mall culture (being based on extensive use of digital/ICT) which is the middle class haven promotes social exclusivism in consumption and keeps the unorganized market and lower class consumers at bay.
  3. Digital world as the cultural-reproduction of social inequalities.


RC23 Business Meeting

Session Organizer


RC23 Roundtable: Contested Science and Technology: Empirical and Conceptual Analysis about the Social Role of Technology and Science

Session Organizer
Ralph MATTHEWS, The University of British Columbia, Canada,

Session in English

Throughout the world, science and technology are being applied in situations that cause controversy and arouse oppositions. This is particularly the case when technological knowledge from the developed world engages in projects and development that has the potential of altering the culture, organization structures, and institutional processes of less developed societies. In such instances, scientific knowledge can be seen as a disembedded system (Giddens) than is engaged in a series of translations (Callon) with local societies. As such, science enters the social worlds of power, governance and regulation, and the evaluation of risks and benefits. It also is subject to assessments by local knowledge and understandings. In doing so, differing conceptions of the role of science, technology, knowledge and ignorance are presented and debated. This session seeks empirical and conceptual works that explore the contested nature of science and technology in its application and, in doing so, contribute to an understanding of the contests surrounding the science and technology in broader social contexts


Science, Technology and (New) Forms of Social Inequalities

Session Organizer
S. L. HIREMATH, Gulbarga University, India,

Session in English

Science and technology are viewed as harbingers of inclusive growth and have been called upon to ward-off the manifest and latent inequities in diverse spheres of social and physical existence of masses, by increasing access to opportunities and amenities through such avenues that are free from traditional constraints and barriers more so in case of once colonial, traditional and developing societies, wherein the legacies and structures of by gone ages continued to determine the privileges and life chances till recent times. In many a societies, this function of science may have produced perceptible intended results but at the same the latent functions of science and technology appear to have had unintended implications, manifested in the emergence of new forms and structures of inequities, deprivations and exclusions.

The policies regulating science and technologies are assumed to have been ill conceived to favor the affluent by increasing their access to opportunities. The privileged, owing to their pre existing affordability and network are assumed to have taken advantage of every successive scientific and technological breakthrough. Further, the recent advances in production technology and ICT have accentuated income inequalities among the technical haves and have nots, to an unprecedented level, recreating the social milieu which is against the ethos of egalitarian society. Income differentials, prestige grading of occupations, professional recognition and privileges and social inclusions and exclusions are viewed as technology driven.

The so called skill bias appears to have given rise to new inequities in the world of work and society at large. The session invites papers that probe empirically and conceptually into the social implications of science and technology for social equity, inequity and exclusions.


Scientific Development, New Technologies and State: Challenges and Opportunities of Nanotechnology and Other Technological Advances

Session Organizer
Tania Elias MAGNO DA SILVA, Brazil,

Session in English

Not open for submission of abstracts.
The panel discusses the close relationship between production of technological knowledge, market interests and social impacts arising from technoscientific advances. The central point is the relationship between technological innovation, the new socio-technical systems, knowledge democratization and governance. In the case of nanotechnology this thread is more than necessary because it’s a technology that works at the level of the invisible, once it turns possible to operate and manipulate even atoms. The big challenge is that unaware menaces could be lying under this scientific discovery.

The aforementioned manipulation could bring a set of risks for humans and environment; risks that are not clear because scientific investigations in nanotoxicity are still very incipient. This way, it’s necessary to reflect on the implications of these innovations in multiple instances of public life, because, as Edgar Morin warns us, "Science has become very dangerous to be left in the hands of statesmen. (…) science became (…) a problem of the citizens".

It competes to social sciences the role to investigate these issues, and yet demystify false promises, propose public policies that actually meet the interests of the majority of the population, especially the poorest, demanding regulatory frameworks based on the precautionary principle.


Technological Innovation and (Un)Sustainable Consumption

Session Organizers
Czarina SALOMA-AKPEDONU, Philippines,
Marlyne SAHAKIAN, Switzerland,

Session in English

This panel features interdisciplinary research on the consumption of technologies and the paradox that such consumption creates. Technological innovations have resulted in energy efficiency yet there is an increase in overall use of energy due to the increased consumption of these technologies. The panel focuses on the consumption of technologies by households in Asia cities and relate it to “sustainable consumption” policies and practices.

It welcomes papers that cover any or all of the above:


Technological Transfer in Latin American Countries and the Caribbean: Challenges of Scientific and Technological Cooperation

Session Organizer
Rafael PALACIOS BUSTAMANTE, University of Tübingen, Germany,

Session in Spanish

Technological Transfer is seen as a component of socio-economical and industrial development, and also as a central aspect of technological sovereignty. For years, in developing countries, technological transfer has become one of the most demanding agenda in state policies. Scientific and technological cooperation between countries from Latin America and Caribbean already presented major challenges to allow these countries to increase their capabilities for social, industrial and economical development.

This agenda not only has broadened itself, but it also has become more complex and demanding, due to new relations with Asia and Europe. These challenges raise actions in the Latino American and Caribbean regions to generate a knowledge domain platform that make possible to seize cooperation with other countries.

However, this problem would not be solved, if science and technology are not included as aspects of political culture. If the scientific and technological variables are not part of the social and productive organization, it would not be possible to sustain the development of these countries and of the decision makers involved in the knowledge production activity.


The Digital Divide – Contributing to an ‘Unequal World’

Session Organizer
José Manuel ROBLES, Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Spain,

Session in English

The increasing penetration rate of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) in general and of the Internet in particular, has led to a profound academic debate regarding the social function of this type of technology. Within the field of Internet usage-associated risks, specialists have paid special attention to the problem of the Digital Divide. Originally, studies on the Digital Divide focused on the inequalities arising as a result of the differences in access to and use of the Internet. In this regard, their interest focused on the geographic and social inequalities between citizens who use and citizens who do not use the Internet.

The current debate takes these studies as reference in order to inquire into the consequences of certain uses of the Internet. Given that the Internet penetration rate is unequal, what consequences might this have in terms of equality and social justice? Digital inequality focuses on the inequalities arising as a result of the advantages provided by certain uses of the Internet. The aim of this session is to discuss from an empirical, theoretical and methodological perspective the in-egalitarian effect of the use of the services and tools offered by Information and Communication Technologies. We particularly seek papers that focus on the following issues: The extent to which Information and Communication Technologies imply a problem for social inequality? To what extent do they pose a new challenge for social justice? Internet.

Languages accepted for the session: Proposals in any of the official languages of the International Sociological Association shall be accepted. However, participants shall be asked to either deliver the oral presentation in English or to provide the support material for the presentation (power point, handouts, etc) in English.


The Future of Public Research Universities: Confronting the Demands of Increasing Economic Self-Sufficiency

Session Organizer
Jaime JIMENEZ, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Mexico,

Session in English

Public universities all over the world have experienced pressures to increase the sources of self-financing, be it as research sponsored by external entities or services provided to the community. Apparently the State wishes universities to become economically independent. Is this trend distorting the objectives of research universities as producers of knowledge by its own sake? How this trend affects the development of Third World universities compared to First World? Do really First World universities have changed their aims and now produce less knowledge than 10-20 years ago? What is the future of public universities in the world?


The Sociology of Disaster and Technoscience: Public Knowledge and Sustainability Beyond Fukushima

Session Organizer
Miwao MATSUMOTO, University of Tokyo, Japan,

Session in English

Not open for submission of abstracts.
The Fukushima accident and its simultaneous disaster have revealed the place of non-modern “nuclear village” amidst of public sphere. The US Congress Survey Report characterizes the “village” as embodying the conflict of interests while other narratives tend to appeal to a kind of cultural essentialism in a broad sense. This symposium regards the formation and working mechanism of the nuclear regime in Japan and elsewhere as much more deep-routed and persistent, and in these senses, universal than expected by either narrative.

By focusing on the huge and unexplored interface between the sociology of disaster and that of science and technology, the symposium attempts to shed a fresh light on the embedded origin of the regime that has changed risk into disaster. This symposium attempts to explore the in-depth social implications of extreme events such as the Fukushima accident. Behind serious and urgent questions over resilience from the accident, there are many sociological stories that have not been told and are difficult to be revealed without devising a due narrative different from ordinary ones in the sociology of science and technology. To that end the symposium intends to utilize a unique combination of participants.


Toward a World of Low Carbon: Social, Economic and Environmental Impacts

Session Organizer
Leandro RAIZER, Instituto Federal do Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil,

Session in English

This session debates the development of alternative energy and its social, economic and environmental impacts. Although the number of studies on these impacts are reduced, its possible to propose a model of "types and Impacts" of the changes generated in the economy, the environment and lives of people, including changes in the habits of citizens, business, civil Governments and civil society. Several indicators of the industry and energy policies of countries indicate the development of an "energy transition", and the trend appears to be increasing deployment with hybridization of plants based on renewable and alternative energy - that is, the gradual energy transition toward a "world of low carbon ".

In this sense, this work session proposes to bring together researchers from different regions of the world to discuss the transformation process in the energy matrix, with emphasis on socio-technical dimension of this phenomenon.


Young Researchers´ Forum: New Research Directions in the Study of Science and Technology and Their Impacts

Session Organizers
Ralph MATTHEWS, Canada,
Czarina SALOMA-AKPEDONU, Ateneo de Manila University, Philippines, csaloma@ateneo.edi

Session in English

The President and Vice-President of RC23 invite ´early´ scholars in the field of Sociology and Science and Technology to submit abstracts for possible presentation in this session. The section is directed specifically to those more junior scholars. This includes Ph.D. students, post-doctoral fellows, and those in the first five years post Ph.D. and at the beginning of their careers in this field. The primary aim of the session is to give those new to the field of the Sociology of Science and Technology an opportunity to present their research proposals, their preliminary research finding, and their new ideas to an audience with experience in the field and an interest in their work. We anticipate that, in the interest of giving as many people as possible an opportunity to present in this manner, the presentations will be somewhat shorter than those in other sessions. We hope to have this session to be followed by a ´networking lunch´ so that presenters have an opportunity to meet with other presenters and with those more senior colleagues working in their area of research.


Joint Sessions

Click on the session title to read its description and the scheduled day/time.

Globalization from Below: Institucional and Policy Changes in Developing Countries

Joint session of RC23 Sociology of Science and Technology and WG01 Sociology on Local-Global Relations [host committee]


New Topics in Interaction between University and Society

Joint session of RC04 Sociology of Education [host committee] and RC23 Sociology of Science and Technology


Right to Benefits of Scientific Progress and its Applications

Joint session of RC23 Sociology of Science and Technology and TG03 Human Rights and Global Justice [host committee]


Surveillance, New Media and Digital Information

Joint session of RC14 Sociology of Communication, Knowledge and Culture [host committee] and RC23 Sociology of Science and Technology


The Future of Teaching and Research in Universities

Joint session of RC04 Sociology of Education , RC07 Futures Research and RC23 Sociology of Science and Technology [host committee]



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International Sociological Association
June 2014