Thursday, 8 September 2016

Interview on 4S Backchannels blog: "Rethinking value in bio-economy"

Here's an interview I've just done with Aleka Gurel for the 4S Backchannels blog.
"Rethinking Value in the Bio-economy with Kean Birch: New Research in ST&HV

Aleka Gurel

21 August, 2016

In this series of Backchannels posts, we’ll be highlighting new research in the 4S journals, ST&HV and ESTS. Here, Backchannels interviews Kean Birch, author of the recent ST&HV paper, "Rethinking 'Value' in the Bio-Economy: Finance, Assetization and the Management of Value." He is an associate professor in the Business and Society program at York University, Canada and a member of the Science and Technology Studies Graduate Program. His recent books include: We Have Never Been Neoliberal (2015, Zer0 Books); The Handbook of Neoliberalism (2016, Routledge – co-edited with Simon Springer and Julie MacLeavy); Innovation, Regional Development and the Life Sciences: Beyond Clusters (2016, Routledge); and Business and Society: A Critical Introduction (2016, Zed Books – with Mark Peacock, Richard Wellen, Caroline Hossein, Sonya Scott and Alberto Salazar).

Backchannels: What brought you to this research topic?

Kean Birch: There were two starting points for this paper. First, I’ve been writing about the bio-economy for a few years now, and have been trying to think through (and beyond) how other STS scholars understand and frame value. In doing this, I realized I disagreed with many of their approaches for a number of reasons, which I then wrote about with David Tyfield for Science, Technology and Human Values in 2013. For example, I find the notion that value is inherent or immanent within biological material itself (e.g. blood, tissue, cells, body parts, etc.) problematic, and – although this is speculation more than anything else – think it probably results from an analytical dependence on Marxist ideas about commodification, labour, use and exchange value, etc. It fetishizes the biological at the expense of the ‘political-economic’, meaning that it is all too easy to miss some key elements in the overall story." 
 The rest of the interview is available here

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