TECHNOSCIENCE AND ACTOR NETWORK THEORY: THE FUTURE

TECHNOSCIENCE

Science and technology have become inevitable in our everyday lives which probes continuous changes in the societal structure and culture. The term Technoscience was termed by Gaston Bachelard in 1953 but speculated that the term was popularized by Gilbert Hottois (Kastenhofer& Schwarz, 2011: 61).  Technoscience is an essential concept in Science and Technology Studies. Technoscience  “imply that the course of science and technology are linked together and grow simultaneously where scientific knowledge is dependent on an infrastructure of technology to adapt, advance and establish in the social world” (Kastenhofer& Schwarz, 2011).

Actor Network Theory (ANT) is a materialistic theory centred on technoscience representing technoscience as the result of the creation of larger and stronger networks. ANT has its origins in an attempt to understand science and technology, or rather technoscience, since on this account science and technology involve importantly similar processes (Latour, 1987).  Just as a political actor develops a network to wield political power, so technoscientists create networks to produce scientific facts and beliefs (Sismondo, 2011). ANT takes into account both human and non human as entities which are heterogeneous, establishing associations and networks (ibid).

When a technology develops, it will pave the way for various other developments which will have varying impacts in the world. Technologies are developed with scientific representations as a result of manipulating material entities already existing in the environment (Latour, 1999).

Agriculture is one aspect where scientific and technology development is an ongoing process. While agricultural scientists analyse the role of technoscience in transforming agriculture, ethical issues are also taken into considerations (Tanaka &Juska, 2010) that happen often coincidently through structuring or restructuring of societal norms or relations or the culture itself.

Genetically Modified food or GMO food for instance are foods created from organisms through manipulating their DNA traits that is, through genetic engineering. The scientific knowledge of genetic engineering makes it possible to have control over crop breeding (AAAS, 2012). Though GMO seeds are said to be engineered for pathogen resistance and for better nutrient profiles, it impacts various aspects of the society with attached controversies to GMO foods such as ethical issues of how safe are the GMO foods with the speculative notion of these food being more harmful that conventionally produced food (Ronald, 2011). From ANT view, GMO food as scientific data existed before manipulation of materials prior to who discovered GMO food components because the origins of scientific product gets hidden in the laboratory conversation.

For ANT, “data is supposed to be the direct result of interactions with natural world “(Sismondo, 2010: 82). In inventing GMO food, human products such as chemical components, seeds, or animals are scientifically claimed and the end result will be the scientific fact of GMO food due to technoscience view of science and technology as evolving together.

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References

  1. American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), Board of Directors (2012).Legally Mandating GM Food Labels Could “Mislead and Falsely Alarm Consumers”
  2.  Kastenhofer, K & Schwarz, A. (2011). Probing technoscience. PoiesisPrax (2011) 8:61–65 DOI 10.1007/s10202-011-0103-0
  3.  Latour, Bruno (1987) Science in Action: How to Follow Scientists and Engineers through Society. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press
  4. Ronald, Pamela (2011). “Plant Genetics, Sustainable Agriculture and Global Food Security”. Genetics 188 (1):  11-20. doi:10.1534/genetics.111.128553.PMC 3120150. PMID 21546547
  5.  Sismondo, Sergio (2010). An introduction to science and technology studies / Sergio Sismondo. – 2nd ed. John Wiley & Sons Ltd, The Atrium, Southern Gate, Chichester, West Sussex, PO19 8SQ, United Kingdom. pp 65
  6. Tanaka, K. &Juska, A. (2010).  Technoscience In Agriculture: Reflections On The Contributions Of The MSU School Of Sociology Of Food And Agriculture. Journal of Rural Social Sciences, 25(3) pp. 34–55
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