Practicing Innovation: Mobile Nano-training, Emerging Tensions, and Prospective Arrangements

  • Philippe Sormani
Part of the Sociology of the Sciences Yearbook book series (SOSC, volume 29)


This chapter is based upon on a small set of narrative interviews with mobile graduate students in the nanosciences. It examines how they conducted and reported upon their respective projects “abroad” (at selected UK and US institutions) for them to count as satisfactory expressions of research practice “at home” (at a Swiss public university). In doing so, the chapter homes in on the local configuration of new research fields from the perspective of its (potential) future members. Particular emphasis is placed on how “mobile nano-training” at MA level was conducted and reported upon in project format. The analytic focus, more specifically, is on how mobile nano-training – via project work, its emerging tensions and prospective arrangements – afforded its participants with an instructive model of research practice in the intended domains of nanoscience: how did they, its novice practitioners, “socialize” themselves into the inter- and transdisciplinary research field(s) they were expected to staff? In taking up this question, the chapter ties the theme of a field’s novelty back to its novices’ practical inquiries, thus avoiding any master narrative of its “radical novelty”, “changing nature”, or “essential tensions”. The chapter, instead, is cast as a reflexive ethno-inquiry (Carlin, Qual Res 9:331–354, 2009; Slack, Ethnogr Stud 5:1–26, 2000).


Nanosciences Research training Technological innovation Academic mobility Emerging tensions Practical and prospective arrangements Reflexive ethno-inquiry 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Istituto Svizzero di RomaRomeItaly
  2. 2.Department of Science and Technology StudiesUniversity of ViennaViennaAustria

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