Project (2012-2014)

The Government of Techno-Science and Techno-Products at Global Level

Dominique Pestre's research project dealt with the government of techno-sciences and techno-industrial products at various scales since the Second World War. A collective project, it involved six senior scholars and a dozen postdoctoral and doctoral students, and was organized around a series of research seminars. It considered the government of chemicals, drugs and health, nuclear waste and radiation, water and bio-security, climate change, environmental questions, and more.

The project dealt with institutions, stressing global actors as the UN agencies and programs, the OECD, the World Bank and the WTO, some NGOs and institutions put into place by major economic players (World Business Council for Sustainable Development, Round Tables, Public Private Partnerships). It also dealt with the technologies that were used to monitor and govern—toxicology and epidemiology, models and simulations, statistics and indicators, economic instruments and cost-benefit analysis, norms and standards, evaluation and management of risks, and participatory procedures.

It finally discussed the usefulness of some of the analytical categories used by historians and social scientists (among them governance, governmentality, neo-liberal, co-construction, hybridity) and proposed a synthetic, historical view of the question. It gave the main transformations that have occurred at global scale and described the main “regimes of techno-sciences in society” that succeeded each other since 1945. This was prepared via the production of a large interactive chronology available to all participants.

This project relied on a large series of detailed case studies. Some of them have been selected and synthetized in a collective book, Le Gouvernement des Techno-sciences. Gouverner le progrès et ses dégâts depuis 1945, edited by Dominique Pestre, La Découverte, Paris, coll. Recherches, 2014.