Abstract

"Technoscience" is now most commonly used in academic work to refer to sets of activities wherein science and technology have become inextricably intermingled, or else have hybridized in some sense. What, though, do we understand by "science" and by "technology"? The use of these terms has varied greatly, but their current use presumes a society with extensive institutional and occupational differentiation. Only in that kind of context may science and technology be treated as "other" in relation to "the rest" of the social order; whether as differentiated sets of practices or as specialized institutional forms. References to "technoscience" may then be taken to imply a reversal of earlier processes of cultural and institutional differentiation and/or a recombination of separate bodies of practice and skill. Either way a move back to a less differentiated state is implied, which makes it surprising that we appear to have very few memories of technoscience in periods less culturally and institutionally differentiated than our own and a lower level of technical and intellectual division of labor. However, the elusiveness of our memories of technoscience may be significant mainly for what it suggests about our ways of conceptualizing the past, rather than for any insight it offers into that past "itself." We tend to identify practices and networks of practices in terms of functions. And it may be because, at different times, different functions have been selected as constitutive of practices, that "technoscience" has come to be regarded as something especially characteristic of the present.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1530-9274
Print ISSN
1063-6145
Pages
pp. 142-165
Launched on MUSE
2005-06-21
Open Access
No
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