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Technological Societies


Dr. Huub Dijstelbloem

Members of the research group

Drs. Martin Boeckhout, Dr. Huub Dijstelbloem, Drs. Guus Dix, Drs. Pim Klaassen, Dr. Michiel Leezenberg, Dr. Federica Russo, Drs. Lukas Verburgt, Drs. Willemine Willems, WRR, KNAW, Descartes Centre, UMC, NUMC

Description of the research programme of the research group

The research group Technological Societies studies how the social, the political and the economic are iteratively constructed within networks of money, goods, people and information. The group shows interest in the ways in which states, policies, group formations and economic orders are held together by artifacts, infrastructures and material practices. In short, the group engages with numerous forms of governance, which furthermore are of a highly technological and often scientific kind. The starting point is that contemporary societies are to a large extent organized around the governance of instability. Political and economic landscapes are replete with issues of a highly technological nature, for example those concerning financial regulation, migration, food, energy and climate change. In all these cases, institutions such as regulatory bodies, monitoring centers, round tables, and intergovernmental panels as well as the information and facts they build on are often highly contested. As a consequence, democratic decision-making procedures, risk regulations and the organization of public accountability are often obscured by the transnational and hybrid nature of these issues. Special attention therefore is given to questions concerning the relationship between governance, technology and democracy, and the changing meaning of concepts such as sovereignty, agency, authority, accountability and the diverging ways in which objects and people are categorized and classified.

Envisaged results

Results to be expected are peer-reviewed articles in international scientific journals on an individual basis by the members of the group, applications for external funding, an edited volume on Science in Transition (AUP) as well as a series of workshops and an international conference in close cooperation with the KNAW, a study in benefit of a policy report on the future of food in close collaboration with the WRR, and five PhD theses. Next to that, the group actively participates in media and all kinds of public events.

Work plan and time schedule

The final work plan will be formulated after a series of work meetings but will run for a period of five years.

Societal relevance

Fuelling societal debate and stimulating awareness in academia for topics of a highly technological nature with political relevance is one of the core aims of the research group. The group closely collaborates with WRR, KNAW, Utrecht Medical Centre, Nijmegen University Medical Centre, COST Action on Bio-Objects, Descartes Center Utrecht University, and Research and Graduate School WTMC. It organizes public debates and colloquia in its CAFE (Centrum Amsterdam voor Filosofie en Empirie) program and its members take part in media, public events and public lectures on a regular basis.

This groups is active in the following constellations: