Original Paper

Science and Engineering Ethics

, Volume 19, Issue 3, pp 1181-1200

First online:

Re-skilling the Social Practices: Open Source and Life–Towards a Commons-Based Peer Production in Agro-biotechnology?

  • Guido NicolosiAffiliated withDipartimento di Scienze Politiche e Sociali, University of Catania Email author 
  • , Guido RuivenkampAffiliated withCTC Research Unit of Wageningen University

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Inspired by the thinking of authors such as Andrew Feenberg, Tim Ingold and Richard Sennett, this article sets forth substantial criticism of the ‘social uprooting of technology’ paradigm, which deterministically considers modern technology an autonomous entity, independent and indifferent to the social world (practices, skills, experiences, cultures, etc.). In particular, the authors’ focus on demonstrating that the philosophy,methodology and experience linked to open source technological development represent an emblematic case of re-encapsulation of the technical code within social relations (reskilling practices). Open source is discussed as a practice, albeit not unique, of community empowerment aimed at the participated and shared rehabilitation of technological production ex-ante. Furthermore, the article discusses the application of open source processes in the agro-biotechnological field, showing how they may support a more democratic endogenous development, capable of binding technological innovation to the objectives of social (reducing inequalities) and environmental sustainability to a greater degree.


Technology Democracy Participation Social skills