The Global Politics of Science and Technology - Vol. 1

Part of the series Global Power Shift pp 1-35


The Global Politics of Science and Technology: An Introduction

  • Maximilian MayerAffiliated withCGS, University of Bonn Email author 
  • , Mariana CarpesAffiliated withGIGA
  • , Ruth KnoblichAffiliated withIEE, Ruhr-University BochumIPWS, University of Bonn

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The reality of international politics has rapidly grown in complexity. This complexity has been pressuring the discipline of International Relations (IR) to engage with new phenomena, concerns, and issue areas, and to translate them into innovative theorizations. Science and technology is one of these issues. Contemporary human life is tied to and thoroughly permeated by artifacts, technical systems and infrastructures, making it hard to imagine any international or global issue that does not have technological or scientific aspects. However, this condition remains fundamentally challenging for many approaches within IR, in which instead science and technology have been largely treated as exogenous. Although an increasing number of IR scholars is exploring the roles scientific practices and technological systems play in international affairs and global politics, the subject matter deserves much more systematic scrutiny. The following chapter articulates the conceptual, intellectual and academic contexts of this two-volume collection on the Global Politics of Science and Technology. After pointing out general normative challenges and briefly problematizing global technological transformations, we recapitulate the evolving IR scholarship on the topic. We argue that, although most IR theories do not grant science and technology a genuine conceptual place, there is enough research to document and reconstruct the breadth and depth of the vivid, yet unrecognized subfield of IR. While the further development of this subfield would greatly benefit from interdisciplinary conversations, we propose the notion of techno-politics to indicate how the discipline might rearticulate existing analytical frameworks, establish innovative conceptualizations, and advance new concerns for research.


Technology Science IR theory Techno-politics Global transformations Technological determinism Interdisciplinarity