Notes on Sheila Jasanoff's contribution to the workshop
ISSC Workshop, BBAW. Berlin, 14-15 March 2002
Less than two weeks ago I was in Japan for a workshop: 'new directions in science and technology ...' by Arie Rip, so I am in the middle of thinking about some of the things.
I want to be a lot more humble in a way, because a transformation clearly connects that sort of background reflection to some of the interests that some of the participants in this group have brought on indicators of measurements.
I want to start on some of these reflections prompted which is I don't think that if we managed to destroy ourselves in a (...) holocaust, I didn't think that study-technology is the issue( ...) what everybody seems to be concerned about is not whether or not knowledge will improve, but who is bend to improve, too and who will take the benefits of it. When people say : knowledge will be stifled most of the time they are talking about selective stifling and a non-benefiting of their country or their particular industry or interest group. So I don't think we should ourselves as analysts buy into the actors language when they talk stifling knowledge, I think that a very strategic kind of vocabulary, and we should be careful ourselves to keep ourselves clear that this vocabulary does not say what is really going on. And it is in that's spirit that I want offer writing this title : Mode II Science- a category of confusion?, because I think to get at the kind of things that interest me, and these are (...) knowledge politics, the organisation of democracy and other bullets that have come up already today. I think we have to be a lot clearer about what the problem is, from which standpoint it is viewed and what we are going to try to do about it. And if you read the very provocative and interesting work that have come out of the Gibbins/Novotny industry , you find that there is a systematic confusion about what it is they are trying to describe and in that respect I am not sure I do better of the use of Mode II. Is it a transformation in the way knowledge is being produced, in the kinds of things that are being generated? In the kind of society we are because knowledge occupies a different place within that society? Or is it a more general set of transformations in the kind of societies we are with as a consequence changes also in knowledge production? In some point the old-fashioned political science that classified the world into dependent and independent variables, I find that useful as a heuristic approach and then I continually fight against it, but it is useful as a heuristic because a lot of the time we do end up analytically putting things both on the dependent variable side and on the independent variable side (...) and I think much of the time it does the wrong on both sides and we should be clear which direction of relationship we are talking about. I am not sure, all that language about Mode II sometimes talks about Mode II science, sometimes talks about Mode II societies and I am generally confused about what is being described and what set of transformation is at state there. Additional to my confusion is, are we describing or prescribing when we talk about Mode II.? So I want to go through the main points that the Mode II reference talked about and say very quickly that it could be both, descriptive and prescriptive and both of those generate questions and then I want to say what sort the problems are with description and prescription and then I want to wine that up with a couple of further sentences.
So if you just take, straight out of the Mode II work, four points that they made, they use indefinite verb 'is, is, is' for all these sentences and I want to have you think what would happen if you substituted 'should be, should be, should be'. So knowledge is increasingly produced in contacts of application, i.e. all science is to some extend applied science. It' s not clear whether they are talking about knowledge should be increasingly produced or is and the policy consequences clearly are different. Science is increasingly trans-disciplinary that is of course on an integrative level (...)- is or should be? Knowledge is generated in a wider variety of scientific institutions, before only universities and several. Is or should be? Participants in science have grown more aware of their societal applications- have grown or should grow? And just as publics has become more conscious- have become or should become? So that is the systematic confusion, I think, about the 'is' or 'should' running through the discussion.
I want to take both on, because I think its important to think in both, the descriptive and the prescriptive problem, and I want to suggest that either way there are problems that we can try to get our heads around, but we haven't solved one. So here are some problems with the descriptive reading of the Mode II as such. So first of all as I have already suggested I think there is a problem with reductions that is ... instead of quite far reaching social transformations are going on- so that it is no longer adequate to say 'industrial society', but some complex of other things, 'knowledge society', 'risk society', 'plural society'- it is a whole complex of stuff going on. To represent all that as Mode II Science, as it sometimes seems to be, is just systemizing things down to far. Whatever the set of transformation is, the image in the back of science we are talking about seems to be science for public policy, regulatory science (...)- its kind of more true about social science activity that it is a private side of science. (...) Science and innovation, much of that ratifies science, science and innovation is concealed, its never a public domain, its protected by (...). Its is absolutely non-reflexive, it is undemocratic to the highest degree. So as a descriptive category Mode II is very selective in its applications and prospects of societal activity. It is not even true that the public sector science is Mode II. Military science is absolutely not, and as we know there is a huge increase in military spending in my country, and it may have had effects in all of your countries as well, and that is about as far from any Mode II sensibility you can imagine.
I think it is actually risky to apply this term without keeping that sort of thing in mind and similar the many developments in bio-technology which are driving a lot of concerns around this table have not been Mode II in characteristics at all. And for the time the final problem with the descriptive approach is that just talking about Mode II Science stresses, I think, overemphasises the productionus aspect of knowledge making and I was very pleased that you called attention from the start to the ignorance that lacks that knowledge because if you don't hear Mode II ignorance- what is the parallel on the non-knowledge side of this thing about Mode II knowledge, would it be social movements? Would it be? What is it? So if we over-theorize the production of this Mode II science, then we are not necessarily bringing the analysts eye to their on that stuff which is un-examinable or unrecognisable sort of being attracted by kind of central gravity, where there already is knowledge density, and whether the knowledge's deficit the analyst's eye is also not turning. In that sense it is descriptively a kind of problematic concept to the working world. If we are really talking about the production of science as our object of studying or our object of analysis.
Now, if we shift into the prescriptive Mode, which I think is also there with the literature, there are also a couple of problems. One of them is, that as soon as you call the thing a science, there is the suggestion that the same vocabulary and conceptive structures that were important in talking about classical, traditional science in the matter existed and can be moved over and what you need to add in very due respect 'extended peer review' is still 'peer review with an extension'. It's not extended politics or even knowledge politics, so there is a temptation to say that it is still a back end (angle?) which should be more democratic, should be much more accountable but nevertheless it doesn't escape as soon as you call it Mode II science and then add it on quality control, indicators, etc. etc, it's still is seeming to just being a modification of similar thought rather than a response to transformative (..) that social theory is telling us we should be thinking about. A second problem with the prescriptive stuff is, with the prescriptive reading of this, it is just ... us from the empirical world, so as I was preparing for this talk I started thinking, where is the Mode II framework working in some sense, where are some case studies? And I thought of three. Well, I thought of two and one black whole.
One where it could be said to be working is in the context of AIDS activism in the US. Some of you may be familiar with S. Epsteins book: Impure sciences. It's a celebration of American pluralism- a justified celebration in a way, what it describes is the people with AIDS, their successful campaign to get to US ...drug- administration to open up scientific research practices. The AIDS community correctly pointed out that if FDA used classical models of clinical trials they would be excluding most patients, both from the clinical trials which were a kind of life line for... medications in the first place but also from all kind of legitimate study over the range of people on whom these drugs eventually are supposed to have an effect. So for instance FDA was excluding anybody who was on multiple drugs, anybody who had what they considered a risky lifestyle, which for a young male homosexual population ended up excluding a vast number of people. So FDA changed that simple power practices and I take that as a case study of Mode II extended peer review kind of stuff actually working and changing scientific practice. But, so you move out of the US context and you look at South Africa or at Africa in general and you find that this intense debate which can be seen in a way as a great case of Mode II philosophy, in practice is really hopeless once you take it out and look at it a global context, because it is not clear in a global context that the interest of the people who were challenging the science methodologies will pitch at the right point of the production process at all. For instance ... was questioning what happens in a context of polity (...) where basic health care humanities are also lacking that these drug cocktails would not only be unaffordable and could not possibly be getting out to addicts. So it is not clear that one man's Mode II is necessarily another man's salvation.
The second example I thought about was the intergovernmental power on private change, which is now more then ten years history and we could consider it in a way as a gradually reflective Mode II recognising kind of entity. In the first year the ITCC was constructed, they asked for standard scientific criteria in order to get experts into the process at all. And gradually they can loosen the criteria somewhat and whereas in the first ground they had very few applications for a number of different factories in the lost ground that the third report was just done they had a far greater wealth of people applying to the test data-net. But if you look at the ITCC bone working groups and the ways in which knowledge aggravation and knowledge production constructed within them- there are a couple of interesting observations. One is although the three working groups were dealing with three very different kinds of phenomena 1. the science of private change- is it happening, isn't happening, how sure are we, etc.? 2. the impact- where are these impacts, how great are they, how far reaching are they? 3. the policy responses, including the efforts of different ways of ending our policy response.
Just a na•ve premises would suggest that the kinds of knowledges required for those three activities might be very different from one another and the process is far reaching just as to chose experts and have proceedings under this three working groups, might in principle actually look quite different, but in fact if you look at the way the things are structured they all have very much a Mode I model in common that is the criteria to get in the ways in which the activities were conducted, how ideas of legitimacy of illegitimacy of input involved in the working groups ended up in very traditional (...)
So here is a place where a very large social experiment in a way on evolving a kind global response to show a Mode II type of phenomenon seems to me to be narrowed excessively by Mode I thinking.
And the third thing that I described a moment ago as a black whole is that these non-knowledges are just so large that they almost swallow up the knowledges at some point. And just out of our recent experience we can talk about BSE what turned out to be not-known, it is just a massive amount of stuff, which goes back to Rainer's question about the different kinds of knowledge, not only did we not know what the impact of trials would be at particular ... explosions.(...)
But the outcome of such an attack is really very interesting because in a way it is more like BSE is containable in a way, we actually know what the impact of agent is, but if you just make a list of what was not known, it is staggering, what was not known, things like- what is the degree of thinness of powder that can actually migrate through - Nobody would think to know that offhand, but it is part of the fragility of vulnerability of the systems that we live in, and because if we turn to global environmental change, and the associative environmental policy we could go rather far into that sort of things.
So at a point when we are trying to tighten up a quality of interdisciplinary Mode II science if we just start thinking about these cases, the measure of fragility in society and ask: what do we need in order to get on this fragilities, (...).
So I would just conclude by saying: I think the phrase of 'socially rebut knowledge' is a beautiful phrase and one can do a great deal with it, but if we turned around and said 'knowledge rebuts societies' for a moment then we are doing - targeting to many efforts of our resources into the socially rebutted knowledge direction, it just leaves out where the surprises and problematics of tomorrow or the day after are likely to come.
Back to ISSC Workshops