Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Workshop Call for Papers: Changing Political Economy of Research & Innovation

The Third Annual Workshop on The Changing Political Economy of Research and Innovation: Geographies, Value(s) and Transitions
23rd-24th March 2015
University of California, San Diego

‘Science’ – or research and innovation (R&I) – is increasingly tasked with kick-starting the stagnant economy, underpinning a new techno-economic paradigm, while tackling multiple, overlapping global challenges (e.g. climate change, food security, low-carbon transition). However, the cultural and political role of R&I, the political economy of its funding and the impacts of technoscientific innovation are all highly contested. How R&I can and do contribute to economic growth and solving global challenges are not clearly understood and, conversely, it is clear that the current dominant policy understanding of these relations is inadequate. The changing relations of scientific research, innovation and political economy are thus a key site for the investigation of the future of technoscience in terms of its contribution to socio-economic development and the public accountability of scientists and policymakers.

While the 1st and 2nd Workshop in this ongoing series focused on analysis of the multiple crises and their interaction with the changing political economy of R&I, this 3rd Annual Workshop seeks critical understandings of the (re-)construction of new socio-technical settlements. In particular, the Workshop will focus on three key and overlapping issues for R&I, namely.

  • Diverse geographies: the geographies of R&I are changing significantly. Globalization of R&I continues apace – with the emergence of global innovation networks, international science collaborations and mass, distributed open innovation and open science initiatives – even as it contradicts the national focus of orthodox science policy. These complex geographies illustrate the irreducible local differences that render any taken-for-granted geography of R&I increasingly redundant, if not actively misleading. The participation of R&I in such globalized and materialized networks, including global value and/or commodity chains, is emerging anew as a key site of its influence in shaping the 21st century.
  • Value, values, (e)valuation: a specifically neoliberal globalization may still be mired in crisis, challenging the continuing IP-intensive model of science-based innovation that has dominated in recent years. Yet, notwithstanding these trends in the broader political economy, the privatisation and commodification of science is proceeding at an undiminished, if not accelerated, pace. This conjunction of intense social demands upon R&I, deepening integration of R&I into the core of capitalist accumulation and a context of fluid, profound and systemic contestation raises multiple key questions regarding the relationship(s) between R&I and ‘value’ in its many guises: capitalist (‘value’); normative and social (‘values’); and practical tools of measurement (evaluation).
  • Socio-material transitions: finally, the themes of geographies and values converge on the key contemporary issue and challenge for R&I, namely their contribution to broader socio-material system transitions to more ‘sustainable’ (ecological, social, financial etc.) social formations. A critical analysis of this process, however, must explore how this process and these discourses are being co-produced with trajectories of R&I and what social forms they are actually constructing, with which winners and which losers.
This workshop will thus seek to address four broad questions:
  1. What are the changing global geographies of techno-science?
  2. How are knowledge, research, innovation and higher education being valorized, valued and evaluated, around the world?
  3. How is research and innovation being integrated into and formed by global commodity and/or value chains?
  4. What roles are (‘responsible’) research and innovation playing in the mobilization, stalling and trajectories of sustainable transitions?
If you have other ideas for papers relevant to the workshop then please do get in touch.
Paper Submission

Please email your abstracts (250 words max) to cthorpe@ucsd.edu by 1st January 2015. Feel free to get in touch before the deadline to discuss your ideas.

The Workshop will be held at University of California, San Diego.

Professor Charles Thorpe, Department of Sociology and the Science Studies Program, UCSD
Professor Martha Lampland, Department of Sociology, Science Studies Program Director, UCSD

Series Organizers
Dr Kean Birch, Department of Social Science, York University, Toronto, Canada
Dr David Tyfield, Lancaster Environment Centre, Lancaster University, Lancaster, UK

Travel & Accommodation
Some funding is available for speakers to cover accommodation including for graduate students. Please indicate whether you would like to be considered for this funding. Decisions about funding will be made on a first-come-first-served basis.

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