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Capitalists’ Profitable Virtual Worlds: Roles for Science and Science Education

Abstract

The wellbeing of many individuals, societies and environments is either dire or under serious threat due to decisions involving fields of science and technology. Arguably, the most significant of these are linked to increasing global climate change—but, many of us are concerned, for example, with health problems (e.g. diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and cancer) associated with manufactured foods and beverages, death and destruction due to military invasions and conflicts and invasion of privacy through electronic technologies controlled by governments and corporations. From an actor network perspective, culpability for such problems is complex, diffuse and uncertain. However, many suggestthat much fault lies with our current neoliberal capitalist system—which is now highly globalized and strategic, and to a great extent, uses fields of technoscience to semiotically convince a relatively small fraction of the world’s population to repeatedly consume and discard goods and services and associated idealized conceptions while much of the rest of the world labours on their behalf and suffers a range of personal, social and environmental problems. Such a vast and powerful system controlled largely by and mainly benefiting an elite cohort of financiers and corporations at the expense of much of the world needs dramatic reform leading to great improvements in social justice and environmental sustainability. Although it appears to be a mechanism for (re)producing problematic capitalist systems, a site of such possible reform may be science education—given its potential influences, as a nearly ubiquitous social programme—on public consciousness surrounding a key capitalist instrument, that is, fields of technoscience. Although the inertial nature of science education resists many reforms, concepts and principles outlined in this chapter may contribute to positive change.

Keywords

  • Hyperreality
  • Neoliberalism
  • Technoscience
  • Consumerism
  • Science education
  • Socioscientific issues

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Fig. 57.1
Fig. 57.2

Notes

  1. 1.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trojan_Horse

  2. 2.

    The STP consists of a two-dimensional grid. Its horizontal axis spans a continuum ranging from rationalist through naturalist positions regarding the nature of theory negotiation in the sciences. Rationalists tend to believe in highly systematic methods of science, including rational judgments about theory. Naturalists, by contrast, assume that the conduct of science is highly situational and idiosyncratic, depending on various factors, including psychological, social, cultural and political influences. The vertical axis depicts a continuum reflecting the truth value of knowledge, with realist through antirealist positions. Realists believe that scientific knowledge corresponds to reality, while (extreme) antirealists claim that each person’s constructions are valid. More moderate antirealists believe in useful knowledge.

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Bencze, J., Carter, L. (2015). Capitalists’ Profitable Virtual Worlds: Roles for Science and Science Education. In: Trifonas, P. (eds) International Handbook of Semiotics. Springer, Dordrecht. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-017-9404-6_57

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