Authors: Wullweber, Joscha
Title: Nanotechnology An Empty Signifier à venir?
Other Titles: A Delineation of a Techno-socio-economical Innovation Strategy
Language (ISO): en
Abstract: The aim of this article is twofold: First, I would like to theoretically contribute to Science and Technology Studies, and to Science, Technology and Innovation Studies, respectively, by introducing a hegemony- and discourse-theoretical inspired political economy as an interdisciplinary approach. And second, I shall present some tentative empirical analyses of the policy field of nanotechnology. Nanotechnology is widely perceived as the key technology of the 21st century. As a result, it is becoming increasingly important in many government policies devoted to technology. Nanotechnology is supposedly appealing for many actors, since it is expected to both produce entirely new materials and revolutionize production processes in virtually all industrial branches. Approaching the nano-hype from a discourse-theoretical perspective, I shall show that nanotechnology is not a definite technology, but an empty signifier. This empty signifier provides the basis for an encompassing socio-economic project that is kept together only by the signifier itself. This 'innovation project' creates a link between nanotechnology and the future of the industrialised states. It aims, above others, at their reconstruction along competitive criteria as competition states . Hence, I shall locate nanotechnology policies within a discursive field of political and economic interests and strategies. My theoretical approach highlights the importance of hegemonic struggles for the construction of (political) reality. Hegemonic practices shape the discursive structure, which, in turn provides the strategic-selective conditions for articulation. Accordingly, policymaking can be described as a rather performative process, which uses complex systems of representation to establish a situation of stability and predictability. Hence, the governance of nanotechnology has to be understood as a contradictory battleground, where certain actors try to enforce their interests.
Issue Date: 2008-07
Provenance: Technische Universität Dortmund
Appears in Collections:Issue 1

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