4S-ESOCITE 2014 – The Congress is underway!

4S-ESOCITE 2014 – El Congreso está en marcha!

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The Congress set ESOCITE/4S of 2014 will take place in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The general theme is “Science in context: North and South”, which provides the opportunity for academic CTS is to meet colleagues (and research traditions) from other parts of the world, giving rise to dialogues and exchanges.

The general theme is “Science in context: North and South”, which provides the opportunity for academic CTS is to meet colleagues (and research traditions) from other parts of the world, giving rise to dialogues and exchanges.

Social studies on science, technology, and society (CTS) “to try how it values social, political, and cultural, affect scientific research and technological innovation, and how they, at the same time, affect society, politics and culture

In the regions of Spanish-speaking, this kind of concerns and reflections have come up with the common name of studies/about Science, Technology, and Society (abreviaremos by CTS), which, in the regions of the English-speaking is known as Science and Technology Studies (Science and Technology Studies) or Studies, Science, and Society, with the acronyms STS or SSS. The field of STS is related to the history and philosophy of science, though with a much greater emphasis on the social aspects of science and technology.

Held in conjunction with ESOCITE, the objectives are to :

  • Strengthen the bonds of the community of social studies of science and technology in Latin america and other regions.
  • Extend and strengthen research in these fields, by encouraging the development of a critical perspective based on the promotion of the collective and actors of the region.
  • To encourage the training of post-graduate (specialization, masters and doctorate) in social studies of science and technology, forming lasting links between the various programs and institutions.
  • Develop and promote education CTS in the different levels of education, as well as in the training of teachers in this field.
  • To support and strengthen the academic publications and outreach on the social studies of science and technology in Latin America.
  • Establishing lasting links of cooperation with similar societies of other regions (such as 4S, EASST, SLHCyT,ALTEC), as well as with Latin american societies that represent other fields of discipline or of interest.
  • To give visibility to the work developed from Latin america, and disseminate the activities carried out by the members of the Society, to the greatest extent possible.
  • To generate proposals that may have an influence on the orientation and content of public policies on Science and Technology of the countries of the region.

 

ESOCITE organizes a Congress every two years, with a rotating venue in the various countries of the Region. These Congresses are to a large space of encounter, presentation of papers, organization of discussions, and is open, in addition to teachers, researchers and students in Latin america, specialists from other regions, by stimulating the exchange of experiences, reflections and ideas.


An introduction on STS in Latin America

Buenos Aires at the crossroads of STS – Part I

4S by going to the south for the first time in its history is, above all, an opportunity for its members to be coupled with a long, rich and fruitful tradition of Studies of Science and Technology in Latin America. In this message, and following a historical account proposed by Kreimer et al[1], I would like to be able to give a brief overview of the beginnings of this tradition, which arbitrarily could be put in the decade of the ‘60s. In order to organize this story, we could say that the beginning of STS in Latin america revolves around three actions involving the academic:

  1. make visible to local scientists and their contexts;
  2. criticizing the linear models of innovation, and
  3. recognize the limitations of the major social theories of science.

As in other places, the origins of the field can be considered as a continuum of interventions, both individual (and institutional) to transform the reality, a conviction that many —in science and outside of it— seem to have shared that moment.

To make visible the Latin american science requires academics (most of them historians) to highlight the life and work of the scientists prominent local (as Oswaldo Cruz in Brazil, and Bernardo Houssay in Argentina), focusing on his talent and vision. Others study the institutional context and the social conditions of science development, producing a perspective externalist that was complemented by scholars, such as José Babini in Argentina and Eli de Gortari in Mexico, who studied disciplines and gave birth to a approach internalista of science and technology . Both perspectives were based on the theoretical frameworks proposed in the core countries.

At the same time , some engineers and scientists dedicated to criticizing the linear model of innovation and introduce a new vocabulary to address the role of science and technology in the area. What is now known as Latin-american Thought on Science, Technology and Society (PLACTS)[2], —Latin american School of Science, Technology and Society— explored topics such as “national projects”, “policies implicit and explicit ‘,’ styles technological” and “technological packages,” among others, with those who were trying to describe how science and technology had been developed in Latin America. Amilcar Herrera, Jorge Sábato and Oscar Varsavsky (Argentina), José Leite Lopes (Brazil), Miguel Wionczek (Mexico), Francisco Sagasti (Peru), Maximo Halty Carrere (Uruguay), and Marcel Roche (Venezuela) are only some of the scholars of this school of thought, which was more interested in the fact that in the academic world. Because of that, many of them played a key role in the development of the national research systems in their countries.

Finally, approaches to sociology and anthropology of science and technology, influenced by the sociology structural-functionalist, were hardly developed in the region, perhaps due to the criticisms received by this school as a conservative. In a context of political conditions that are unstable in that the social sciences were more focused on the conflict and Marxism became the dominant theory for understanding the social life, Edmundo Fuenzalida (Chile), Simon Schwartzman (Brazil), and Marcel Roche (Venezuela) made important contributions to the STS focusing on the development (and limitations) of the scientific communities national.

Between 1960 and 1980, these individual interventions do not necessarily translate into institutional design[3]. Since 1980, however, the field of STS in Latin America has expanded and strengthened, but this will be part of our next messages.

10 January 2014 – 4S

Buenos Aires at the crossroads of STS – Part II

Since 1980, the landscape of the STS in Latin America has changed. A process of academization of the field took place vis-à-vis a growing involvement of scholars of CTS in the government planning and policy formulation. Endowed with theories and methods (usually coming from Europe and the united States), scholars were more concerned with rigorous empirical analysis that the left side approaches most essayists that had characterized the previous stage. As a result, “the structural interest (…) that he had founded the field to the regional and international level, was displaced by micro-institutional issues technocratic”[4].

These microanalysis of science (with a focus on the institutions, research groups, or even theories) is paralleled by a growing interest in a social history of science, and to the criticism of the prospects internalistas earlier. In addition, studies externalist technology began to develop, especially in the Center Interunidade de História da Ciência (CHC), in the University of São Paulo. Interestingly, these analyses have led to scholars of Latin american to recognize the important limitation of the theories received from the North. “On the one hand, the topics previously accepted were reviewed from different perspectives (…). On the other, some —although few— critical jobs were written with the purpose of questioning the jurisdiction of the new concepts in relativistic as mechanisms explaining the local dynamics[5]. In a way, these studies have helped to extend the tradition of critical appropriation of knowledge abroad, which had begun in the previous decades in the framework of the school of Latin-american Thought on Science, Technology and Society. Consequently, the reflection about the peripheral status of the science and technology in Latin America continued during this stage (with relevant contributions of scholars such as Hebe Vessuri, Renato Dagnino, Hernán Thomas, Paul Kreimer, Marco Cueto, Leonardo Vaccarezza, and Paul Zabala), along with other issues more oriented to the policies, as technological innovation (Judith Sutz, Rodrigo Arocena, Rosalba Casas and Jorge Charum), and the policies in the field of science, technology and higher education (Mario Albornoz, Enrique Oteiza).

Unlike the previous phase, the institutional development become essential in this. Linked to graduate programs in STS, most of the research in the field has occurred in the Department of Science and Technology Policy (UNICAMP, Brazil), Department of História da Ciência (FIOCRUZ, Brazil), Department of Science Studies (IVIC, Venezuela), Institute of Social Studies of Science and Technology (University of Quilmes, Argentina),Instituto de Investigaciones Sociales (UNAM, Mexico) , and the Autonomous University of the State of Mexico, as well as the Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana-Xochimilco (Mexico), University of Buenos Aires (Argentina), Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), with emphasis on its Program of História das Ciências e das técnicas e Epistemologia; The Research Group NECSO – CNPq / Core Estudos de Ciências – Technologies – Sociedade (Brazil); Centro de Estudios Peruanos (Peru), University of Havana (Cuba) and the National University (Colombia). Without a bond with postgraduate programs, these institutions also have carried out research in STS: Sectoral Committee of Scientific Research of the University of the Republic (Uruguay), Center Interunidade de História da Ciência (University of São Paulo, Brazil), Casa de Oswaldo Cruz (Brazil), the Research Centre for the Technological and Economic Development of the Autonomous University of Chihuahua (Mexico), the Group of História e Teoria da Ciência at the Universidade Estadual de Campinas, the Mexican Society of History of Science and Technology, the Division of History of Science in the Colombian Academy of Physical Sciences, Exact and Natural, among others.

The scholars of these institutions were devoted also to the creation of spaces for interaction. As a consequence, some professional societies (such as Social Studies of Science and Technology – ESOCITE – and Association of Latin-Iberoamerican Technology Management) have held regular conferences since the mid-1990s. Other important institutions, such as UNESCO, the International Union of Philosophy of Science, the Association of Latin American Studies of the Organization of ibero-American States and the Ibero-american Programme of Science and Technology (CYTED) also organise academic events of the region, giving rise to contributions of long-standing, such as the Network of Indicators of Science and Technology Ibero-american / inter-American (RICYT), the Research Network CTS+I and theLatin american Manual of Indicators on Technological Innovation (Handbook of Latin america Indicators of Technological Innovation), known as the Manual of Bogotá.

The publications have also made it possible for researchers to be able to interact, although the picture is of the journals is complex, since only a few publications have been able to appear regularly. These are Quipu (Mexico), oriented to the history of science; Interciencias and Spaces (Venezuela), focused on the management of science and technology and, to a lesser extent, in the social studies of science and technology; Networks-a Journal of the Social Studies of Science(Argentina), oriented to all areas of STS and in particular to the sociology of science. Occasionally, articles on topics of CTS are found in Science and Development (Mexico); Science, Technology and Development (Colombia); Colombia Science and Technology (Colombia), the institutional magazine of the University INCCA (Colombia); Foreign Trade (Mexico), and, since recently, CTS-Revista Iberoamericana of Science, Technology and Society (Argentina), which has been sponsored by the University of Salamanca (Spain), the Organization of ibero-American States and the NGO Group of Networks (Argentina).

With the turn of the century, STS in Latin America was institutionalized and more or less integrated to the discussions of the field at the international level. Graduate programs, mobility of students and academics, and the participation of the academic STS in the policy-making process, were determining factors to strengthen the presence of science and technology in the public domain. However, there are still some challenges for the new generations of scholars. As Vaccarezza has pointed out, “The efforts of research and systematic theories were isolated and have had a low impact: whether on the whole of society, in public policy, in the groups of professionals linked to the management of the technology, in the scientific community”[6]. So the tension between the groups with high claims, academic, both theoretical and methodological and groups involved in the criticism of the development of science and technology through interventions outside the academic field, seems to be a defining characteristic of the field in the beginning of the 21st century. But we will reflect more on this topic in our next message.

February 17, 2014 –

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Translation : Horacio AlperinGathering


Notes

[1] . Kreimer, P. Thomas, H., Rossini, P. and Lalouf, A. (eds) Production and social use of knowledge. Studies of sociology of science and technology in Latin America, Buenos Aires: Universidad Nacional de Quilmes Editorial.

[2] . For more information, see http://www.oei.es/revistactsi/numero4/escuelalatinoamericana.htm

[3] . More about this phase of STS in Latin America, see Vessuri (1993) http://sss.sagepub.com/content/17/3/519.abstract)

[4] . Kreimer, P. Thomas, H., Rossini, P. and Lalouf, A. (eds) 2004 Production and social use of knowledge. Studies of sociology of science and technology in Latin America, Buenos Aires: Universidad Nacional de Quilmes Editorial, p. 44.

[5] . Kreimer et al, op. cit., p. 48.

[6] . Vaccarezza, L. 2004 ‘The field CTS in Latin America and the social use of their production’, CTS Iberoamerican Magazine of Science, Technology and Society, 2(1): 211-218, p. 215.

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