, Volume 2, Issue 3, pp 213-230
Date: 18 Sep 2008

Lose One Another ... and Find One Another in Nanospace. ‘Nanotechnologies for Tomorrow’s Society: A Case for Reflective Action Research in Flanders (NanoSoc)’

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Abstract

The main objective of the Flemish research project ‘Nanotechnologies for tomorrow’s society’ (NanoSoc) is to develop and try out an interactive process as a suitable methodology for rendering nanoresearchers aware of underlying assumptions that guide nanotech research and integrating social considerations into the research choices they face. In particular, the NanoSoc process should sustain scientists’ capacities to address growing uncertainties on the strategic, scientific and public acceptance level. The article elaborates on these uncertainties and involved dilemmas scientists are facing and proposes a process approach which addresses strategic uncertainty by alternating between ‘visioning’ and ‘technology assessment’; a process design which manages complexity by promoting reflexivity among scientists by exposing them to deliberations in civil society (social experts, stakeholders, citizens) on plausible futures with nanotechnologies; and as an answer to societal ambivalence, certain process quality requirements such as an attitude of perplexity or openness towards ‘plurality’ and an attitude of ‘temporary closure’, both in support of understanding and learning from differences.