X-IRG-1 The Social Life of Nanotechnology

(Barbara Harthorn, John Mohr - IRGs 1, 2 & 3 & X-IRG)


The Social Life of Nanotechnology is an edited volume contracted to Routledge, anticipated publication by late 2011/early 2012. The Social Life of Nanotechnology starts from the basic premise, developed throughout the text, that nanotechnologies have an under-theorized and often invisible social life that starts with the very concept of “nanotechnology” itself which, as we show in the volume, takes on a wide range of socio-historically specific meanings around the globe, across multiple localities, institutions and collaborations, through diverse industries, research labs, and government agencies and on into a variety of discussions within the public sphere itself. The volume looks at this process through the lenses of the social and cultural sciences, revealing a surprisingly complicated social milieu where a series of traditionally modernist scientific projects have been (and are continuously being) re-assembled into new configurations that are sharply marked by their emergence within a rapidly changing, increasingly globalized, and decidedly postmodern world. As the authors in this volume explain, this results in a series of unique contradictions, tensions and unexpected developments. We highlight three dimensions of this process in the papers collected here: the early origins of nanotechnologies, questions about the social (and political) organization of the field, and studies concerned with the cultural and subjective meanings ascribed to nanotechnologies in social settings.