References of "Thoreau, François"
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See detailEmbedding ‘‘Science and Society’’ within Nanotechnologies’ Development
Thoreau, François ULg

Conference (2011, March 18)

These slides introduce nanotechnology as a voluntarist public policy. It addresses the societal dimensions of such policies, that is its social, ethical and legal aspects. It then focuses on one ... [more ▼]

These slides introduce nanotechnology as a voluntarist public policy. It addresses the societal dimensions of such policies, that is its social, ethical and legal aspects. It then focuses on one particular research project which aims at integrating such concerns into practices of research and development. Then, it raises issues, questions and ambiguities as for the role of social scientists in such a process. [less ▲]

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See detailComment Facebook a changé le Monde? Le rôle des réseaux sociaux dans les révolutions arabes
Thoreau, François ULg

Conference given outside the academic context (2011)

La conférence propose une analyse raisonnée du rôle précis des réseaux sociaux dans les premières révolutions arabes, particulièrement en Tunisie et en Egypte. Elle conclut à une approche critique du ... [more ▼]

La conférence propose une analyse raisonnée du rôle précis des réseaux sociaux dans les premières révolutions arabes, particulièrement en Tunisie et en Egypte. Elle conclut à une approche critique du discours médiatique sur la question, qui propose une vision à la fois linéaire et totalement surévaluée de l'importance de ces technologies dans la genèse du mouvement social. [less ▲]

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See detailLaurent (Brice), Les politiques des nanotechnologies. Pour un traitement démocratique d’une science émergente
Thoreau, François ULg

in Politix : Revue des Sciences Sociales du Politique (2011), 2011/4(96), 187-190

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See detailOn Reflections and Reflexivity: Unpacking Research Dispositifs
Thoreau, François ULg

in Zülsdorf, Torben; Coenen, Christopher; Ferrari, Arianna (Eds.) et al Quantum Engagements: Social Reflections of Nanoscience and Emerging Technologies (2011)

Abstract. Science and Technology Studies (STS) scholars increasingly engage with science and technology (S&T) practitioners, scientists, engineers, and the like. The actual dynamics of these engagements ... [more ▼]

Abstract. Science and Technology Studies (STS) scholars increasingly engage with science and technology (S&T) practitioners, scientists, engineers, and the like. The actual dynamics of these engagements differ from one project, framework or school to the next. However, to be reflexive, such engagements need at some point to deal with the ambiguous relationship between ‘engager’ and ‘engaged’. In an attempt to disambiguate these interactive ties, this chapter takes inspiration from Vinciane Despret, a philosopher of science who has provided ethnographic studies of ethologists. It specifically draws on two of Despret’s arguments about experiments on animals, more precisely rats, and the paradoxical relationships to which they give rise. By means of analogy, it then illustrates the similar ways in which we, as STS scholars, might happen to frame our interactions with S&T practitioners. It argues that any experimental research dispositif necessarily implies a specific relationship dynamic with whoever is engaged. This should not be considered as an obstacle, but instead an opportunity for learning—yet only if the dispositif is open to protest. The analysis here took shape during an engagement study conducted at a large-scale R&D center in Flanders, Belgium. It is informed by ongoing involvement in a broader research project (STIR) that aims at fostering reflexivity among S&T practitioners. [less ▲]

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See detailLe financement public des cultes et de la laïcité en Belgique. Quelles évolutions pour le pluralisme philosophique?
Thoreau, François ULg

Book published by Éditions Universitaires Européennes (2010)

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See detail"Taming the publication machine", or Discourse Analysis made Subliminal
Thoreau, François ULg

Conference (2010, November 15)

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See detailOn Reflections and Reflexiveness: Positioning the Self, Enframing the Other?
Thoreau, François ULg

Conference (2010, October 01)

STS scholars are increasingly engaged with science and technology practitioners, scientists, engineers and the like. The actual dynamics of these engagements differ from one project, framework or school ... [more ▼]

STS scholars are increasingly engaged with science and technology practitioners, scientists, engineers and the like. The actual dynamics of these engagements differ from one project, framework or school to the next. However, to be reflexive, such engagements exercises need to deal at some point with the ambiguous ethical relationships between engager and engaged. In an attempt to disambiguate some of these interactive ties, we begin by considering the respective agendas of involved participants. To do so, we draw upon Despret’s perspectives about experiments on animals and the paradoxical relationships they give rise to. We identify the implied injunctions among STS scholars not only to "be reflexive" but also to reflect back onto practitioners their own worldviews. We then consider some of the ethical tensions, ambiguities and paradoxes between and emerging out of reflexive engagements of the self and of the other. Particularly, we explore to what extent reflexive engagements constitute ends in themselves or means to other ends. We ground this analysis in empirical evidence from an engagement study conducted in a large-scale R&D center in Flanders, Belgium. [less ▲]

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See detailOpening the black box : agencies as socio-technical networks
Fallon, Catherine ULg; Thoreau, François ULg; Joris, Geoffrey ULg

Conference (2010, September 09)

Agencies have historically developed in Belgium, endorsing public activities not only at the federal level, but also at the level of decentralised governments (regions and communities). The current ... [more ▼]

Agencies have historically developed in Belgium, endorsing public activities not only at the federal level, but also at the level of decentralised governments (regions and communities). The current landscape in the Southern part of the county is more and more taking the form of a mosaic with very little efforts in terms of cooperation : this is particularly true when the agencies addressing similar target groups in a given sector are responding to different levels of governments with very little interaction, the coordination being organised by the users' themselves, according to their own strategies. At the same time, some agencies are taking more of a centre stage position : they not only provide services and support to their target group, they also fruitfully contribute to their status and identity building. Using a cultural approach may help study the "art of the state" in its diversity (Hood, 1998). We propose to concentrate the analysis on the emergence of two Agencies whose mission is to support professionals working in the public sector. Based on a recent field work on the transformation of the sector of public research, we will analyse how the FNRS (an agency funding public research) succeeded to survive as an independent agency through since 1928 (Halleux & Xhayet, 2008), adapting to the transforming socio-political context: it emerged as an industry based project and transformed into a "mertonian" institution of knowledge contributing to unify the scientific community at the level of the country, while bypassing the historical divisions of the three worlds of universities in the country (Fallon, 2009). A diachronic analysis helps underline how socially constructed is such an institution, and how the configuration of networks are continuously reshaping themselves to better be embedded in a specific historic society (Laborier, 2003). The FNRS is currently struggling to define new forms of cooperation with the universities (and their researchers) which are themselves embarked in the current stream of transformations introducing techniques derived from New Public Management in research organisations (de Boer, Enders, Schimank, 2007). In quite a different sector, another field work using the same methodological approach analysed the emergence of a very recent agency, EASI-WAL, serving the regional administration in order to encourage administrative simplicity (OCDE, 2003, 2005) and reported the shortcomings of this organisation in organising avenues for professional change with the civil servants (Thoreau, Fallon, Joris,2009). The two field work research were organised as case study analysis, with document analysis, face to face interviews and in situ observation, using research tools derived from the sociology of science (Actor-Network Theory in Callon,1986). The paper will present the outcomes of the analysis of the dynamics of the cooperation between the agency and its target groups (FNRS & researchers; EASI-WAL & civil servants) and their outcomes in terms of innovation and organisational learning. We observe the implementation of two institutions both designed to support the emergence of some common goal within their target collectives (elitist -research; administrative simplicity): they autonomously gave shape to their internal procedures of categorisation and hierarchisation, with identification processes contributing to the definition of institutional boundaries defining a specific field while ensuring its inscription in the network through a specific legitimating strategy (Douglas, 1986). This analysis will unveil some of the mechanisms of cooperation of the different stakeholders supporting the institution, and also the struggle between stakeholders for the definition of settings of participation and administrative and political control. [less ▲]

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See detailTaming the “Publication Machine”: Generating Unity, Engaging the Trading Zones
Thoreau, François ULg; Neicu, Maria

in Spontaneous Generations: A Journal for the History and Philosophy of Science (2010), 4(1), 163-172

In this paper, we explore the par ticular issue of a biomedical research team engaging itself in different “trading zones” (Galison 1997). We do so by following the specific process of setting up a new ... [more ▼]

In this paper, we explore the par ticular issue of a biomedical research team engaging itself in different “trading zones” (Galison 1997). We do so by following the specific process of setting up a new microscope. We star t by briefly introducing our general understanding of the concept of “trading zone.” Then we focus on the empirical material we collected, star ting from the microscope as the researchers we followed were setting it up. Our analysis is twofold: we first describe the acts we have been witnessing, then contrast them with the surrounding discourses and provide them with a rationale. We argue that the team created a sense of unity among its individual members and how this unity, though precarious, was needed and desired in order to fur ther engage in a trading zone. [less ▲]

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See detailConfronter l'incertain: les nanotechnologies et les "Science and Technology Studies"
Thoreau, François ULg

in Piet, Grégory; Wintgens, Sophie (Eds.) La science politique dans tous ses états (2010, January)

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See detailLes nanotechnologies, entre l'espoir et les craintes
Thoreau, François ULg

Article for general public (2009)

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See detailIntegrated Research and Protected Spaces: a New Role for STS?
Thoreau, François ULg

Poster (2009, September 10)

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See detailLes stratégies wallonnes en matière de simplification administrative
Thoreau, François ULg

Conference (2009, May 15)

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See detailAre bio and nano likely to be compared? If so, what are the consequences on public participation?
Thoreau, François ULg

Conference (2009, March 29)

Like modern biotechnologies, nanotechnologies are a generic area of research linked with several interconnected disciplinary fields. They may be converted into a large panel of applications. It also ... [more ▼]

Like modern biotechnologies, nanotechnologies are a generic area of research linked with several interconnected disciplinary fields. They may be converted into a large panel of applications. It also brings, with its development, promises of a quite huge potential including important economic opportunities. Both of those emergent technologies also raise important social, ethical or environmental issues. Nevertheless, many substantive differences remain between biotechnologies and nanotechnologies. The former was introduced in society by a time public actors were less sensitive to public participation, as shows the history of parliamentary Technology Assessment. A lack of public participation is often told to have grounded some public opposition to some particular biotechnologies, with the usually quoted case of GMOs. The latter are currently under development in quite other circumstances, as social shaping of technology begins to be widely acknowledged and role played by STS community grows faster. Nanotechnologies deal with more uncertainties and more complexity. So it is commonly accepted that, within their development process, they should include more public participation to avoid some pitfalls of biotechnologies. Still, other differences that context exist between biotechnologies and nanotechnologies. It may be stressed that biotechnologies have left laboratories for a private financial designing of marketable products and that nanotechnologies are just starting to leave laboratories under great public impulsions, with wide public support and funding, as in the case of the National Nanotechnology Initiative in the US. So in the presentation we consider whether, given those differences, biotechnologies and nanotechnologies are likely to be compared. Then we pick a look to potential consequences related to public participation. Should there be more public participation? What for? Should it be driven in a different way? [less ▲]

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See detailEmerging Patterns of Depoliticization and Engagement to Inform the Future of Science and Technology Studies: A Case Study in Nanotechnologies
Thoreau, François ULg

Conference (2009)

In this paper, we address the issue of the future of a particular field of research in social science: Science and Technology Studies (STS). Although this is a very young research field, its history is ... [more ▼]

In this paper, we address the issue of the future of a particular field of research in social science: Science and Technology Studies (STS). Although this is a very young research field, its history is already diverse and its evolutions are fastly moving on. Its rapid expansion and its characteristic feature of crossing disciplinary boundaries are making it an interesting case to study, which takes a particular place in the overall history – and future – of social changes. As we shall indicate, STS have an increasing committment for the resolution of sociotechnical controversies. In this paper, we problematise this particular position by underlying the implicit politics of STS research and how they will shape the future of that particular field. Our approach is threefold. First, we give a brief overview of the history of the field and we point out the main evolutions since the developement of the Social Construction of Technology approach (SCOT) in the 1980s that long influenced the field. By doing so, we underline the epistemological critical tradition that gave the field some of its particularities that we address. We show how this tradition brought important insights of “political” nature within the development of the field. Second, our ambition is to highlight new patterns of evolution of the STS field, emphasizing the trends towards both a greater depoliticisation and a more engaged research. By “depoliticisation”, we intend to analyse the dynamics of institutionalisation of the field which adopts resources and tools to legitimate itself among the social scientific community. By “engaged” research, we will explore the evolutions of the STS field as inherently political. The field does have an implicit statement in favor of changing social order and an increasing willingness to actually influence that social change. In that respect, research projects in STS often have underlying politics, as we shall demonstrate. Third, we give a concrete example of these new patterns occuring, relying on the growing importance of nanotechnologies, both in the STS literature and research projects. We consider this case study to be intertwined with the development of STS as a field of research. In that sense, we stress that nanotechnologies happened to be a powerful tool for legitimation for the STS community. Therefore, we — as STS scholars — suggest instrumentalizing the interest we have in nanotechnologies in order to observe the evolutions of our field of research. Then, nanotechnologies will constitute an interesting ground to perform a test that will show depoliticisation and engagement as patterning the STS field. [less ▲]

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See detailFrom Bio to Nano: Learning From The Past to Shape the Future of Technology Assessment
Delvenne, Pierre ULg; Fallon, Catherine ULg; Thoreau, François ULg et al

Conference (2008, October 12)

In many Western countries over the last 35 years, the quest for more scientific governance on <br />crucial technological issues led to a broadening of the political world’s sphere of competences. <br ... [more ▼]

In many Western countries over the last 35 years, the quest for more scientific governance on <br />crucial technological issues led to a broadening of the political world’s sphere of competences. <br />Indeed, various countries decided that dealing with global, invisible, irreversible and irreparable <br />risks had to be handled by an appropriate tool of management of technological innovations. So the <br />usefulness to institutionalize parliamentary Technology Assessment (PTA) offices emerged. <br />Nowadays, PTA is an instrument particularly suitable to study the new shape of science and <br />society’s interface and it represents a remarkable attempt to reform the institutional settings of <br />innovation. <br />However, while the overall uncertainty surrounding science and technology has been used by public <br />actors like parliamentarians or ministers in the past to legitimize a first generation of PTAs, the <br />emergence of a second generation in the 1990’s – centred on the constructive, interactive or <br />participatory TA approches – emphazises the co-evolution of technology and society rather than the <br />former linear determinist rationale. In this context, the STS community of scholars is increasingly <br />called upon by the public authorities to provide a “professional service role” (RIP, 1994), that is to <br />say to take a step into action out of the border of their intellectual engagement. <br />Then, we suggest to compare two successive periods by looking at the institutional management of <br />two distinct-but-complementary technological issues: biotechnology and nanotechnology. The <br />former has been taken into account by public actors at a time when the second generation of PTAs <br />was not yet rooted in the political practices. Thus, the management of the public debate related to <br />biotechnology has been characterized by a lack of sensitive, fruitful and interactive communication <br />between the stakeholders involved in the TA process, while the first applications were already being <br />commercialized. On the other hand, the latter is currently being tackled at a moment when the social <br />shaping of technology is widely acknowledged as well as the STS community may be invited to <br />pass from observation to participation in the political sphere. Given the uncertainty and complexity <br />encircling nanotechnology as well as its huge potential in many interconnected disciplinary fields, <br />the need to avoid the pitfall of the biotechnology’s experience is commonly accepted. <br />We offer to take nanotechnology as one of the most challenging technological issue to look beyond <br />the biotechnology’s roadblock and to show in which proportion the same scenario is reasonably <br />thinkable today, in order to spotlight whether we have learnt from the past in considering what is <br />1 <br />sometimes called “a new industrial revolution”. <br />We will raise some research questions like: how different are current TA practices as compared to <br />former ones? Are there new regimes emerging? Given the current technological convergence, how <br />complicated would it be to deal with NBIC technologies if we missed the point with biotechnology <br />alone? How suitable is PTA to engage in such interdisciplinary issues? Are we assisting the <br />emergence of a third PTA generation around the growing role of the STS community? How does <br />this scientific community dialogue with the historians of science who analyzed the earlier industrial <br />revolutions? [less ▲]

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See detailAppréhender l'incertitude: le Technology Assessment au service du processus décisionnel
Delvenne, Pierre ULg; Joris, Geoffrey ULg; Thoreau, François ULg

in Pyramides : Revue du Laboratoire d’Etudes et de Recherches en Administration Publique (2008), 15(1),

Le présent article porte sur les processus de décision publique en situation d’incertitudes multiples, justifiant l’ouverture des frontières de l’objet de la décision et le recours à des instruments de ... [more ▼]

Le présent article porte sur les processus de décision publique en situation d’incertitudes multiples, justifiant l’ouverture des frontières de l’objet de la décision et le recours à des instruments de production de connaissance particuliers. Dans un premier temps, nous mettrons en évidence les nouveaux référentiels structurant les processus décisionnels liés à des risques scientifiquement et socialement controversés. Dans un second temps, nous présenterons le « Technology Assessment » comme un outil de gestion publique des choix technologiques, et nous nous attacherons à décrire à la fois la pertinence et les limites de cet instrument de facilitation de la prise de décision dans un contexte marqué par sa complexité et largement empreint d’incertitude. [less ▲]

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