Fairytales of technology, politics and innovation

Following up their 2009 White Paper on Research (forskningsmelding), the Norwegian Government is currently preparing national strategies for nanotechnology and biotechnology. This paper welcomes the governmental strategies but remains critical to the political signals presented so far by the Ministries and Ministers in charge of them. In particular, we argue that such processes of policy-making should become more inclusive and democratic rather than uncritically adopting the prevailing socio-technical imaginaries of spokesmen of science and technology. Whereas public statements on nanotechnology by the Minister of Trade and Industry merely reproduce optimist imaginaries, the Ministry of Education and Research so far appears more balanced in their statements on biotechnology. Still, in the debate so far, economic, scientific and industrial interests remain largely unchecked and unchallenged. We propose a political initiative to govern the co-production of science, technology and society, along the lines of the science-in-society strategy of European Union, and identify historical, economic and political factors that make Norway a good candidate for broad and inclusive governance of science-in-society.

Keywords: Politics, techno-science, expertise, culture, socio-technical imaginaries, social democracy