Devices of responsibility

Research Workshop at Mines ParisTech on September 12-13, 2013

The Center for Sociology of Innovation together with the research center Spiral from the University of Liège organizes a workshop, funded by DIM IS2-IT InnovRespImage(Innovations, Sciences, Technologies, Societies) from Ile-de-France region, on the devices of responsibility, in other words the devices intended to implement “responsible” practices in technological innovation and economic or industrial development.

As “responsible innovation” has become an imperative in the definition of public research programs and in the industrial strategies of private companies, particular consideration should be given to the economic and political organizations constructed by responsibility. The ambition of the workshop is to undertake an empirical analysis of the instruments and the devices aimed at shaping behaviors, as well as of the “responsible” objects and programmes, in their particular and problematic relation to innovation policies.

Devices of responsibility: shaping political spaces for research, innovation and markets

The purpose is to address the shaping of “responsibility” performed by such devices, and the effects of these instruments upon the forms of individual and collective action. How is responsibility translated and implemented in such devices? What behaviors of the scientists, the industrialists, or the research administrators are shaped by these devices? What political order comes out of this, in particular at the European scale? What transformations of research, of innovation and of markets do these devices achieve? In short, the issue being raised is that of the articulation between responsibility devices, material constructions, and political and economic organizations.

The participants will discuss examples relating to the chemical industry and to its regulations, to the construction of research programs on emergent technologies such as synthetic biology, or to the definition of the companies’ “social responsibility” strategies. The imperative of responsibility and its effects will also be analyzed via the study of the functioning of the European institutions, whether they seek to consult with stakeholders through a set of participative devices or to implement an objective of “responsible innovation” by the means of an expertise in ethics.

A contribution to an on-going research programme

This workshop is part of a larger set of research projects undertaken at the Center for Sociology of Innovation on the devices organizing trade exchanges and/or collective decision-making. It directly echoes the work of the Observatory for Responsible Innovation. Since 2010, the Observatory focuses on the modalities of responsible innovation in finance and on sustainable urban planning, and has more recently started to take interest in issues relating to tracking and control of digital data. The research works discussed during the workshop will contribute to the reflections of the Observatory.

Workshop Programme and Abstracts


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Photo: Observatory for Responsible Innovation, 2012. Photo: Mines-ParisTech