Techno-economic assumptions and techno-scientific capitalism

Contemporary capitalism is increasingly technoscientific. Examples of this include the growing role of techno-economic expertise in decision-making, such as economists specializing in research and innovation policy; the social dominance of techno-economic knowledge claims, such as the quality of life benefits of pharmaceutical products; the financial importance of technoscientific organizational structures and governance, such as the ‘unicorns’—that is, companies valued at US$1 billion plus, despite never producing a thing or a profit—rearing their heads across Silicon Valley; and the continuing transformation of social institutions into producers of technoscientific outputs, such as universities and the ‘epistemic rentiership’ engendered by academic publishing processes.

Economic assumptions underpin all of this, especially the enormous range of ‘expert’ and ‘lay’ judgements regarding the value and purpose of technoscience. However, there is a growing resistance to these sorts of economic assumptions and their embedding of a particular attitude to technoscience, namely as an unambiguous driver or source of ‘national economic progress’.

The emergence and ascendancy of technoscientific capitalism represents a critical moment for science and technology studies (STS) to engage with this task.

Read the full article in Science as Culture