A Cultural Political Economy of Research and Innovation in an Age of Crisis

Minerva 50 (2):149-167 (2012)


Science and technology policy is both faced by unprecedented challenges and itself undergoing seismic shifts. First, policy is increasingly demanding of science that it fixes a set of epochal and global crises. On the other hand, practices of scientific research are changing rapidly regarding geographical dispersion, the institutions and identities of those involved and its forms of knowledge production and circulation. Furthermore, these changes are accelerated by the current upheavals in public funding of research, higher education and technology development in the wake of the economic crisis. The paper outlines an agenda for science & technology policy studies in terms of a research programme of a ‘cultural political economy of research and innovation’ (CPERI). First, the implications of the overlapping crises for science policy analysis are discussed. Secondly, three rough constellations of contemporary approaches to science policy are critically compared, namely: a techno-statist Keynesian governance; a neoliberal marketplace of ideas; and co-productionist enabling of democratic debate. CPERI is then introduced, showing how it builds on the strengths of co-production while also specifically targeting two major weaknesses that are of heightened importance in an age of multiple crises, namely neglect of political economy and the concept of power

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