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Economisation of knowledge?



Economisation of knowledge? Shifting boundaries between science and economy, Research Project A5 of Research Program 536 'Reflexive Modernization'

The project focuses on the new overlaps and intertwinements of scientifically and economically rational behaviors. There is some evidence that the distinction between established scientific and economic patterns of action, which was typical of modern processes of rationalization and differentiation, has become increasingly ambiguous. This seems not only true for the process of knowledge production (e.g. the increasing number of frauds in science – the most prominent among them being the Hwang Woo Suk case), but also pertains to the communication of results (e.g. an increase in studies that are designed with questionable criteria or are unaccountably secretive in terms of research results). Another case in point is the debate centered on the public accountability of scientific knowledge. Hence the empirical focus of the project is on three conflict prone dimensions: * the uses of knowledge (in conflicts over property rights in the fields of gene technology or software development); * the communication of knowledge (in terms of secrecy or a certain slackening of validity standards, e.g. in the field of bio-medicine); * increased public access to scientific research (e.g. patient associations or open-source networks). On the one hand, we focus on current public debates fuelled by the above-mentioned conflicts. On the other, we also tackle the shift towards new forms of boundary management between science and economics as institutional fields. This last aspect begs the question of how side effects can be regulated and future conflicts managed. Thus, our central concern is whether or not science has undergone a radical change in terms of its "social role" and whether it is motivated and steered by new imperatives.

Scientists