In the policy discourses of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and European Commission, modern biotechnology and the life sciences are represented as an emerging “bioeconomy” in which the latent value underpinning biological materials and products offers the opportunity for sustainable economic growth. This articulation of modern biotechnology and economic development is an emerging scholarly field producing numerous “bio-concepts.” Over the last decade or so, there have been a number of attempts to theorize this relationship between biotechnologies and their (...) capitalization. This article highlights some of the underlying ambiguities in these conceptualizations, especially in the fetishization of everything “bio.” We offer an alternative view of the bioeconomy by rethinking the theoretical importance of several key economic and financial processes. (shrink)
Introduction -- The commercialisation of science and the construction of the knowledge-based bio-economy -- The KBBE reality--the case of agriculture -- Intellectual property rights and the global commodification of knowledge -- Privatizing Chinese science : national development vs. neoliberal financialization -- Critical realism and the importance of ontological attention -- Critical realism and beyond in economics -- The realist transcendental argument.
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. (shrink)
‘Methodological cosmopolitanism’ connotes a profound transformation of the sciences as forms of public reflexive social analysis on learning to live well together through building homes in the world: what may be called the ‘Beckian vision’, in memory of Ulrich Beck. This short note considers how Beck’s concept of emancipatory catastrophism may not be the most productive development of his own programme. This is precisely brought out by a methodologically cosmopolitan analysis of a key East Asian response to the global risk (...) of climate change: innovation of low-carbon cities in China. Instead, these presumptively archetypically cosmopolitan initiatives offer something of a political education regarding the irreducibly strategic power/knowledge dynamics at work – including in ongoing contestation about the very term ‘cosmopolitan’. (shrink)
Much discourse on low-carbon transition envisages progressive social change towards environmentally sustainable and more equitable societies. Yet much of this literature pays inadequate attention to the key question of power. How do energy infrastructures and socio-technical systems interact with, construct, enable and constrain political regimes, and vice versa? Conceiving low-carbon energy transitions through a power lens, the paper explores a case study of huge, but overlooked, significance: the paradox of the ‘phenomenal’ resurgence of coal in an era of low-carbon innovation. (...) Through exposition of the strong connections between coal-based socio-technical systems and a political regime of classical liberalism, illustrated in two eras, we trace an emerging constellation of energy and political regimes connecting ‘clean coal’ with a ‘liberalism 2.0’ centred on a rising China. This affords a critique of the low-carbon society emergent from these developments – a society more reminiscent of coal's previous Dickensian heyday than the progressive visions of much ‘low-carbon transition’ literature. (shrink)
How are we to understand the multiple overlapping crises of the present? In a superbly enlightening synthesis of Marxian (critique of) political economy and systems theory, Robert Biel presents a compelling case for the importance of an entropic perspective, regarding both thermodynamic and informational flows that constitute and transform social systems. This perspective offers an insightful analysis of neoliberalism as an attempt to harness the entropic benefits of spontaneous and complex emergence for the purposes of capitalist accumulation. The current crises (...) may thus be understood as the overflowing of the resulting complexity and the pathological response of neoliberal powers, further accelerating this process. But is capitalism itself thus exhausted? An alternative scenario of rejuvenated capitalism is outlined, together with the implications of Biel’s analysis for critical realism, critical social theory and a politics of the Left. Content Type Journal Article Category Review Essay Pages 112-128 Authors David Tyfield, Lancaster University Journal Journal of Critical Realism Online ISSN 1572-5138 Print ISSN 1476-7430 Journal Volume Volume 12 Journal Issue Volume 12, Number 1 / 2013. (shrink)
The present is a moment of crisis and transition, both generally and specifically in “knowledge” and its institutions. Acknowledging this elicits the key questions: where are we? Where are we headed? What, if anything, can be done about this? And what can the “economics of science” contribute to this? This paper assumes a “cultural political economy of research & innovation” perspective to explore the current upheaval and transition in the system of academic knowledge production, at the confluence of accelerating commercialisation (...) and the seemingly opposing movement of “open science.” This perspective affords a characterisation of the core of the current crises as a crisis of moral economy; an issue to which a political economy of epistemic authority is in turn crucial. A “remoralizing” of knowledge production is thus a matter of key systemic importance, though it is important to understand such developments in power-strategic, and not explicitly moral, terms. Much of the current moves towards “open science” and “massively open online courses” can also then be seen as self-defeating developments that simply exacerbate the crisis of a viable “economy of science” and in no sense its solution. Their lasting significance, however, is more likely to lie precisely in their effects on the construction of a new moral economy of knowledge production. (shrink)
Low-carbon innovation is usually depicted as an exemplar of pursuit of the common good, in both mainstream policy discussion and the emerging orthodoxy of transition studies. Yet it may emerge as a key means of intensifying inequality. We analyse low-carbon innovation as a social and political process through the prism of differential risk-classes, focusing on the pivotal global case of emergence of the Chinese middle-class in seaboard megacities, especially regarding the profound challenges of urban e-mobility transition. This approach shows emergence (...) of this still-forming sociopolitical grouping as tightly and complementarily coupled with the assembling of innovations that meaningfully tackle global risks, such as climate change, while also intensifying existing inequalities. Misrecognition of the duality of low-carbon innovations as both moral technologies and as relatively expensive consumer products has the potentiality to be a key mechanism of this process, thereby serving to reproduce, constitute and legitimize inequalities in novel and unexpected ways. (shrink)