The Social Shaping Approach to Technology Foresight

Michael Søgaard Jørgensen, Ulrik Jørgensen, Christian Clausen

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    The social shaping of technology (SST) approach has been developed as a response and extension to the ideas of techno-economic rationality and linear conceptions of technology development and its consequences. The SST approach seems especially promising in areas of technology where visions are manifold, societal interests conflicting, and applications and markets are non-existing or still under construction. The emerging high technology areas and several areas of more sustainable development like organic food production and renewable energy are examples of this kind, where techno-economic networks are unstable or under construction and social and environmental potentials and risks difficult, if not impossible to assess. The paper explores the potential of a social shaping of technology approach to technology foresight within such technology areas and presents the methodological aspects herein: structure versus contingency, actor-network approach, laboratory programmes, techno-economic networks, actor worlds, development arenas. Experiences based on a recent Danish green technology foresight project concerned with environmental risks and opportunities related to nano-, bio- and ICTtechnologies and foresight activities in relation to food are used as empirical references.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalFutures The journal of policy, planning and futures studies
    Issue number2
    Pages (from-to)80-86
    Publication statusPublished - 2009


    • social shaping
    • development arenas
    • Foresight


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