Since the mid-nineteen-nineties, the idea of connecting science, technology and society has become one of the key factors in the design of science policy in Latin America. Scholars and policymakers have become highly interested in finding ways to connect them to each other through different processes and strategies, and to explicitly reflect such approaches in documents of science policy that may help to regulate the connections between them. The purpose has been to transform the classical model of the triple helix (known in Latin America as the Sábato triangle), in which scientific and technological development depends exclusively on the intersection of three agents, i.e., university, industry and government, and include society as a fourth agent in the picture. It is hoped that such a transformation may generate more participation in science and technology, and in turn, more democratization of them.
These efforts to connect science, technology and society have traditionally fallen under the general framework of public communication of science and technology, which may include things such as science popularization, science communication, public understanding of science, public engagement with science and technology, and even science journalism, among others. Sometimes these terms have been employed interchangeably, but many scholars and policymakers argue that each of them should be used to refer to very specific phenomena. And in this process of terminological and conceptual clarification, a new term has appeared in Latin America, becoming with time widely praised by scholars and policymakers, but also by other agents in the region. That term is apropiación social de la ciencia y la tecnología, consistently translated into English as social appropriation of science and technology.
Social appropriation of science and technology has indeed become the dominant discourse in Latin America to refer to that aspect of science policy concerning the connections between science, technology and society. It can be found in academic and institutional publications and discourses, some academic journals have devoted entire issues to it, there have been academic and institutional conferences devoted to it, and it has even found a significant place in multilateral organizations such as Organización Convenio Andrés Bello and Organization of Ibero-American States, which have produced important policy documents for the region based on it such as “Política pública en apropiación social de la ciencia y la tecnología de los países signatarios de la Organización del Convenio Andrés Bello” (2008) and “Manual de Antigua: Indicadores de percepción pública de la ciencia y la tecnología” (2015).
However, despite its pervasive presence in the region, there are not many critical approaches to social appropriation of science and technology in Latin America. In general, social appropriation of science and technology tends to be taken as something intrinsically positive and even good that should be promoted by academia and governments no matter what, even when some problems are identified in it. It has somehow become the leading assumption for how the relations between science, technology and society should be properly understood and regulated in the region.
We therefore seek innovative scholarship that critically addresses social appropriation of science and technology and its related discourses, and which might touch on one of the following themes:
1. The historical origins of the discourse of social appropriation of science and technology in Latin America and its connections with other international contexts;
2. The use and misuse of social appropriation of science and technology in regional and national contexts to promote public agendas on science and technology;
3. The social, economic and political dimensions of the discourse of social appropriation of science and technology and its impact on science policy;
4. Issues and problems concerning measurement, analysis, design and evaluation of policies involving social appropriation of science and technology;
5. The conceptual and theoretical foundations of the discourse of social appropriation of science and technology: its strengths, but also its limitations and shortcomings;
6. The use and misuse of different social agents (communities, groups, social movements, science centers, museums, hackerspaces, etc.) to promote and encourage public agendas on/through social appropriation of science and technology;
7. The diffusion and circulation of the discourse of social appropriation of science and technology in Latin America and elsewhere;
8. Terminological debates concerning the use of ‘social appropriation of science and technology’ when compared with other terms such as ‘science popularization’, ‘science communication’, and so on.
Other innovative approaches that may shed some light on social appropriation of science and technology in Latin America are also welcome.
Proposals for chapters should include a title and not exceed 250 words. The proposal should outline the content of the chapter and describe its critical approach. Please send proposals and a CV to the editor, Jorge Manuel Escobar Ortiz (firstname.lastname@example.org), no later than December 1st, 2018. Guidelines for the preparation of accepted proposals will be sent by January 15th, 2019. Completed chapters (6000 words) will be expected by August 30th, 2019.
With the accepted chapter proposals, a book proposal will be sent to an academic publisher that is currently preparing a new series on Latin America. In preliminary conversations , it has been stated that an edited volume on these topics could potentially be interesting to them.
Jorge Manuel Escobar Ortiz, PhD