Science & Education

, Volume 22, Issue 10, pp 2463–2483 | Cite as

On the Commodification of Science: The Programmatic Dimension

  • Marcos Barbosa de OliveiraEmail author


The article is a partial result of a wider research project, in which the commodification of science is interpreted, from one point of view, as a facet of the rise of neoliberalism, and from another, as a set of processes, classified according to a three-category taxonomy. Only one of the taxonomy’s categories is dealt with in this article, the one that concerns the processes that affect the programme of scientific research. First a sketch is presented of the historical background and the periodization of the most relevant epoch for the study of the commodification of science, namely, the one from the end of World War II to the present. The periodization is expressed in the notions of Golden Years science and neoliberal science. The ensuing sections have the aims: to show that, in Golden Years science, the processes shaping research programmes did not include commodification; to characterize the period of transition of the 70 s; to describe the processes of commodification that have impact on the research programmes of neoliberal science; to discuss criticisms that have been levelled against them, as well as proposals for better ways of conducting scientific practices, and their implications for science education (which are of the same nature as that of Science & Education’s editorial line); and finally, to bring to light the differences between developed and emerging countries as far as the commodification of science is concerned.


Scientific Knowledge Private Enterprise National Innovation System Innovation Potential Programmatic Dimension 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



I am very grateful to Hugh Lacey, who encouraged and helped me in many ways to write this article. I also thank three of the reviewers, for their extensive and helpful comments, and FAPESP, for the support of Projeto Temático “Gênese e significado da tecnociência” (nº 07/53867-0), in the context of which my research work is carried out.


  1. Brown, J. (2010). One-shot science. In H. Radder (Ed.), pp. 90–109.Google Scholar
  2. Bush, V. (1990/1945). Science, the endless frontier. Washington, DC: National Science Foundation.Google Scholar
  3. Carlotto, M. C. (2008). Ciência como Instituição e como Prática: a Mudança do Regime Disciplinar/Estatal de Produção e Difusão do Conhecimento Científico no Brasil vista a partir do Laboratório Nacional de Luz Síncroton, Master’s Thesis. São Paulo: Universidade de São Paulo.Google Scholar
  4. Cole, J. (1994). Understanding the Bush legacy. In Science the endless frontier: Learning from the past, designing for the future. New York: Columbia University. Available at Latest access January 10, 2012.
  5. Cruz, C. H. B., & Chaimovich, H. (2010). Brazil. In UNESCO science report 2010: The current status of science around the world (pp. 103–121). Paris: UNESCO.Google Scholar
  6. Dagnino, R. (2010). Por que os ‘nossos’ Empresários não Inovam? In R. Dagnino (Ed.), Estudos Sociais da Ciência e Tecnologia & Política de Ciência e Tecnologia: Alternativas para uma nova América Latina (pp. 47–68). Campina Grande, PB: EDUEPB.Google Scholar
  7. Fagerberg, J. (2005). Innovation: A guide to the literature. In J. Fagerberg, D. C. Mowery, & R. R. Nelson (Eds.), The Oxford handbook of innovation (pp. 1–26). New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  8. Freeman, C. (1974). The economics of industrial innovation. Harmondsworth: Penguin Books.Google Scholar
  9. Freeman, C. (1982). The economics of industrial innovation (2nd ed.). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  10. Freeman, C., & Soete, L. (1997). The economics of industrial innovation (3nd ed.). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  11. Garcia, J. L. (2010). Tecnologia. Mercado e Bem-estar Humano: para um Questionamento do Discurso da Inovação, Alicerces: Revista de Investigação, Ciência e Tecnologia, e Artes, 3(3), 19–31.Google Scholar
  12. Garcia, J. L., & Martins, H. (2009). O Ethos da Ciência e suas Transformações Contemporâneas, com especial atenção à Biotecnologia. Scientiae Studia, 7(1), 83–104.Google Scholar
  13. Greenberg, D. S. (2007). Science for sale: The perils, rewards, and delusions of campus capitalism. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Harvey, D. (2007). A brief history of neoliberalism. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  15. Hayek, F. A. (1944). The road to serfdom. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  16. Hobsbawm, E. J. (1994). Age of extremes: The short twentieth century, 1914–1991. London: Michael Joseph.Google Scholar
  17. Joss, S. (2009). Making technology accountable—citizen’s conferences in the era of public accountability. Diacrítica Filosofia e Cultura, 23(2), 299–316.Google Scholar
  18. Kevles, D. J. (1990). Preface to Bush, V.: 1990/1945, Science, the endless frontier. Washington, DC: National Science Foundation.Google Scholar
  19. Kitcher, P. (2001). Science, truth, and democracy. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Kline, S. J., & Rosenberg, N. (1986). An overview of innovation. In R. Landau & N. Rosenberg (Eds.), The positive sum strategy: Harnessing technology for economic growth (pp. 275–304). Washington, DC: National Academy Press.Google Scholar
  21. Krimsky, S. (2003). Science in the private interest: Has the lure of profits corrupted biomedical research? Oxford: Rowman & Littlefield.Google Scholar
  22. Lacey, H. (2008). Ciência. Respeito à Natureza e Bem-estar Humano. Scientiae Studia, 6(3), 297–327.Google Scholar
  23. Langley, C., & Parkinson, S. (2009) Science and the corporate agenda: The detrimental effects of commercial influence on science and technology. Folkestone: Scientists for Global Responsibility. Available at Latest access February 27, 2012.
  24. Merton, R. K. (1973). The normative structure of science. In N. W. Storer (Ed.) The sociology of science: Theoretical and empirical investigations (pp. 267–278). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  25. Merton, R. K., & Barber, E. (2006). The travels and adventures of serendipity: A study in sociological semantics and the sociology of science. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  26. Mirowski, P. (2011). Science mart: Privatizing american science. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Musschenga, A. W., van der Steen, W. J., & Ho, Vincent, K. Y. (2010). The business of drug research: A mixed blessing. In H. Radder (Ed.), pp. 110–131.Google Scholar
  28. Nowotny, H., Pestre, D., Schmidt-Assmann, B., & Schulke-Fielitz, H. (2010). The public nature of science under assault: Politics, markets, science and the law. Berlin: Springer.Google Scholar
  29. Oliveira, M. B. (2011a). Formas de autonomia da ciência. Scientiae Studia, 9(3), 527–561.Google Scholar
  30. Oliveira, M. B. (2011b). O inovacionismo em questão. Scientiae Studia, 9(3), 669–675.Google Scholar
  31. Pittock, A. B. (2009). Climate change: The science, impacts and solutions. London: EarthscanGoogle Scholar
  32. Radder, H. (Ed.). (2010). The commodification of academic research: Science and the modern university. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press.Google Scholar
  33. Resnik, D. B. (2007). The price of truth: How money affects the norms of science. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Resnik, D. B. (2010) Financial interests and the norms of academic science. In H. Radder, (Ed.), pp. 65–89.Google Scholar
  35. Samuelson, P. A., & Nordhaus, W. D. (1992). Economics (14th ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill.Google Scholar
  36. Schumpeter, J. A. (1942). Capitalism, socialism and democracy. New York: Harper.Google Scholar
  37. Sharif, N. (2006). Emergence and development of the national innovation systems concept. Research Policy, 35, 745–766.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Stokes, D. E. (1997). Pasteur’s quadrant: Basic science and technological innovation. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution Press.Google Scholar
  39. Ziman, J. (1994). Prometheus bound: Science in a dynamic steady state. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Ziman, J. (1995). Of one mind: The collectivization of science. New York: AIP Press.Google Scholar
  41. Ziman, J. (2000). Real science: What it is, and what it means. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Universidade de São PauloSão PauloBrazil

Personalised recommendations