Dear colleagues,
Apologies for any cross-posting.
        Call for Papers

        The Changing Political Economy of
 Research & Innovation (CPERI)

        6th Annual International Workshop, Monday 23rd and Tuesday 24th July 
[Please note change of date]

        Institute for Social Futures, Lancaster University, UK

        We cordially invite submissions to the 6th CPERI workshop, following
previous events at Lancaster (2012), Toronto (2013), San Diego (2015),
Liège (2016) and Boston (2017).  CPERI is a unique global forum for the
exploration of scholarship regarding the political economy of research &
innovation (R&I), and hence at the intersection of STS, political economy
and multiple other cognate disciplines, including geography,  sociology,
politics, law, education, medicine, engineering, computing & philosophy.
The workshop series is dedicated to cultivating a growing community of
committed and engaged international scholars of the political economy of
R&I who will continue to build on their CPERI connections at subsequent
workshops and conferences, and through collaboration on research.  We aim
to bring this crucial but neglected issue more centrally to major
conferences in adjacent fields, where it remains overlooked.  With these
goals in mind, and to assist attendance from as diverse a group as
possible, the workshop is also being held directly before the EASST
Conference 2018, also in Lancaster. Attendance is free.

        Our theme for 2018 is:

        Making & Doing Technoscientific Futures Better

        Keynote speakers:

        Professor Susan Robertson
( (Cambridge) on “the
University in an age of platform capitalism”

        Dr Mark Carrigan ( (Cambridge) on “Securing
public knowledge amidst the epistemic chaos of platform capitalism?”

        [Further keynote speakers for the event will be confirmed shortly.]

        There is no shortage of scholarship identifying the profound challenges 
contemporary techno-scientific lifeworlds, whether regarding the
Anthropocene (Hamilton 2017, Bonneuil & Fressoz 2016), emergence of post-
(or even trans-) human ‘digital disruptive innovation’ (Harari 2016,
Lanier 2017), or their conjunction in the emergent ‘technosphere’ (e.g.
Haff 2016, Szerszynski 2017).  Meanwhile, and not unrelated, public spheres
(viz. CPERI 2016, Liège) continue to be upended and turbulently
transformed as digital social media, and potentially their deepening
percolation into material life, unleashes social division, economic
inequality and ‘culture wars’ polarization.  Indeed, 2017 was the year
in which a new ‘reasonable’ or ‘respectable’ declinism regarding
‘civilization’ (often identified with Western and/or liberal democracy)
went mainstream (Luce 2017, Reich 2017, King 2017, Cf Mishra 2017).

        Techno-science, and thereby the research and innovation (R&I) from which
it hails, plays a crucial role in all these narratives, whether optimistic
and utopian or pessimistic and dystopian.  Indeed, the zeitgeist of doom
and incipient barbarism raises with renewed urgency long-standing but
fundamental, ‘big’ questions about the crucial role of science and
technology and innovation – and, crucially, education – in the
evolution and formation of ‘civilizations’ and stable, thriving
societies (e.g. Mumford 2010, Mauss 2006, Beinhocker 2007).  With digital
social media, built on privately-owned and deliberately addictive
platforms, parsing up the public sphere, are there even socio-technical
grounds any longer for a single, shared (if not ‘objective’) body of
knowledge that both binds a society together and is itself collaboratively
developed and disseminated by its R&I and educational institutions?

        There is a grave danger that this new Western declinism simply serves to
enact and perform its bleakest premonitions, even as it may aim to
forestall them.  For which socio-political forces benefit most from
deepening the public sense of things ‘falling apart’? Indeed, this
challenge resonates particularly strongly with the contemporary situation
of STS more generally.  On the one hand, the situated co-production of
(materialized) knowledges with worlds and selves is increasingly accepted
not only across academia, but is now also spilling over into public
common-sense.  But, on the other, today STS finds itself in a predicament
arising from neglect of many of its traditional presuppositions, which now
appear in radical flux.  Many core insights are being (ab)used in ways that
undermine the sociopolitical causes that STS has traditionally supported,
and instead taken to legitimate practices of ‘post-truth’ and nihilist
rejection of expertise (see CPERI 2017, Boston); while post hoc critiques
of specific technological trajectories and technocratic programmes of
anticipatory forecasting only serve to deepen political paralysis
vis-à-vis a daunting future.

        To counter this downward dynamic meaningfully, however, demands not just
the voluntaristic politico-cultural formulation of new ‘narratives’ or
‘myths’ for society, even as these are undoubtedly both powerful and
crucial.  It also calls for new forms of active engagement with R&I that
both underpin such new narratives with demonstrable practical experiment,
and thereby bring a hands-on, in-depth and appreciative understanding of
current R&I frontiers that can possibly direct these from within, not just
criticize or critique from without.

        Such future-oriented and engaged research must also go beyond simple
activism by actively interrogating and illuminating the political economic
and ‘structural’ conditions of any such particular techno-scientific
initiative as these are changing in parallel.  Amidst the Anthropocene,
post-human innovation and cosmopolitized globalism, we see transformations
underway in (global) political economy, political ecology and human
self-definition, driven by the US-dominated, neoliberal conditions in which
STS has largely developed to date – and has not only taken for granted
but sometimes refused to examine.  STS must thus engage more concertedly
with these changing but presupposed aspects of its research, and vice

        In short, what remains urgently needed is (re-)constructive research 
engages with changing and shaping emergent techno-scientific futures in
‘better’ directions.  This encompasses not only positive agendas and
initiatives – e.g. ‘responsible research & innovation’ – across the
systems of socio-technical life – e.g. health & medicine, environment,
mobility, energy, cities & construction, production & consumption etc…
– but also regarding the institutions and practices of knowledge

        This workshop invites papers at the boundaries of STS and political
economy and/or political ecology, across the spectrum of positions
(including (trans-) feminist, post-human(ist) and non-Western scholarship),
investigating new perspectives on key global challenges in ways that offer
promising approaches to future-oriented action.

        Papers are invited (for 20 minute presentations) on any theme of
contemporary R&I or higher education, insofar as they engage with making
and/or doing technoscientific futures better, for instance:

        ·         The Precarity and Politics of the Expert / The Fact
·         New/Emerging Forms of Value & Valuation in Science, Technology &
·         Futures of Knowledge & Education Institutions amidst Changing
Knowledge Cultures
·         Austerity and the Economics of Innovation
·         Challenges to Responsible Research & Innovation
·         The Geography of (Alternative) Knowledges
·         Diverse Knowers and Knowing
·         Commercial Imperatives in Research and Innovation
·         Scientific Ambiguity and Environmental Science
·         Complexity and Scientific Decision-making
·         Technologically-driven Social/Political Change
·         Ontological / Epistemic Politics of Emerging Technoscientific

        We especially encourage contributions from scholars from Eastern and
Southern Europe and beyond, areas which are not well-represented within our
network, and with whom we would like to foster opportunities for future
collaboration, particularly at the early-to-mid career stage.

        Abstracts should be no more than 300 words, and should include the
author’s name, institutional affiliation, and contact information.
Questions and abstracts should be sent via email to (  by 30

        We gratefully acknowledge the support of Lancaster’s Institute for
Social Futures in hosting this event.

        David Tyfield (Lancaster University)

        Stevie de Saille (Sheffield University)

        Janja Komljenovic (Lancaster University)
Stevienna de Saille, PhD
Research Fellow, Institute for the Study of the Human (iHuman)Department of
Sociological Studies / Faculty of Social SciencesUniversity of Sheffield
c/o ICOSS, 219 Portobello
Sheffield S1
@ihumansheff (
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