References of "Thoreau, François"
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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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