I n d e x
|CROSSING THE BARRIER OF 'PRODUCTIVE
What has science and technology research of the European Communiy done for the people of Europe and what can it do for the peoples of the developing world? Questions such as these include broader societal concerns, health, emlpoyment and welfare, cultural diversity and identity, ecology and environment, literacy and social citizenship.These societal questions are very much part of the European Parliament's concerns, especially in assessing the role and relevance of science and technology on the economic and social cohesion of Europe, the issues of 'Integration' and 'Subsidiarity', as well as societal implications within and beyond the European Community. At a recent STOA workshop (19-20 April, 1993) on Social Sciences, questions also arose as to the role and relevance of social and human sciences in shaping the EC science and technology research and broadening its horizons to societal areas such as the social and economic perspective of technology innovation, social production and distribution of knowledge, reflexive communication between science, technology and society. Some speakers noted the limitations of the traditional social science research in making any meaningful impact on the shaping of the EC research, especially when these sciences have already been subjugated by new technology, and are now embedded in technological research, for example into areas such as cognitive, information and communication sciences, neural networks, genetic engineering and increasingly into environmental and ecological sciences. Some speakers expressed concern that just as social sciences are losing their autonomy and legitimacy of being a vehicle for social analysis and technology assessment, European universities are in the process of losing their autonomy and legitimacy as sources and places of knowledge production. It is the EC industry and not the European universities that are playing increasing role in setting priorities for the EC research and its funding.
In the name of 'productive functionality', industrial shaping of education and research has become part of the accepted wisdom of the governance supported by established technologists and social scientists. Could it be that the industrial enculturisation of the EC technological research is to do with the hold which the dogmas of 'technoscience' and 'competitivity' have on advanced industrial societies? Inspite of the societal ruptures, epistemological, institutional, economic and social, these dogmas continue to promote the notions of 'productive functionality' ('Electronic Fordism'), and impose 'technical' limits on civic principles of social accountability and civic independence, marginalise the ethical dimension, and dictate social and economic priorities.
On a societal level, the 'productive functionality' also redefines the nature and purpose of work, from 'social utility' to 'economic disutility'. Bureaucratic innovations redefine social concerns as problems of production and consumption, and seek quantitative solutions of qualitative social concerns as if there were no difference between quality of life and the quality of industrial product. Question arise as to what would happen when, as we are now witnessing, the level and quality of industrial production cannot be sustained and industrial decline leads to social pessimism? Have not the very existence of the social and cultural systems already become dependent on the sustainability of the industrial production systems? If so what social price should we be prepared to pay for the technological and bureaucratic innovations which cannot even support the sustainability of the social fabric of very societies which nurture them?
Perhaps it is not too late to reflect on social and human cost of the ideology of 'productive functionality' which has far too long shaped the technological and bureaucratic innovations. A pessimist may say that what hope do people have from our educationists and researchers who have themselves accpeted the technological inevitability and the industrialisation of their own domains. Human centred research community in Europe as well as many other alternative movements on ecology and environment have shown that there is a ray of hope and opitimism to affect a change of direction of scientific and technological research towards broader societal concerns. Alternative human centred concepts such as 'social utility', 'social and cultural shaping', 'codevelopment', 'social sustainability', dialogue, participation, and harmony provide guiding principles to affect such a change. The challenge to human and social sciences in Europe is to cross their own traditional subject boundaries, and develop new interdisciplinary therories and methods of analysis and assesment of technological and bureaucratic innovations. These developments should refelect the new realities of Europe which is inter-regional in economic terms, and global in terms of multiculturalism and multiethincity.
AI & Society welcomes contributions to the above human centred debates on science and technology. Bob Muller's paper on "Enhancing Creativity, Innovation and Cooperation", and other invited papers in this issue of AI & Society make a attempt to set a broader framework for societal and organisation innovation.
STOA ( Scientific and Technological Options Assessment): The Social Sciences Workshop on "Assessing the role of the human and social sciences in the European research", European Parliament, Strasbourg, 19-20 April, 1993.
STOA : Information on STOA from Dick Holdsworth, Head of STOA, European Parliament, SCH 4/81 Luxembourg
Dick Holdsworth, Criteria for assessment, project paper no: 1, presented at the STOA Social Sciences Workshop, Strasbourg,19-20 April, 1993
Riccardo Petrella, Towards a European Forum on Social Sciences and the RTD Policy: a motion, presented at the STOA Social Sciences Workshop, Strasbourg,19-20 April, 1993
Karamjit S Gill, A Human Centred Agenda for Social Innovation, presented at the STOA Social Sciences Workshop, Strasbourg,19-20 April, 1993
Karamjit S Gill