סיכום יום עיון ראשון- קהילת לימודי ידע, מדע וטכנולוגיה


 
 

ערב העיון הראשון של קהילת לימודי ידע, מדע וטכנולוגיה באגודה הסוציולוגית הישראלית

בשיתוף התכנית למדע, טכנולוגיה וחברה, אוניברסיטת בר-אילן

בין סיכון לאי-ודאות: ידע, מדע וטכנולוגיה

The first discussion evening of the Knowledge, Science and Technology Studies section of the Israel Sociology Association In collaboration with Science Technology and society program at Bar-Ilan University

“Between Risk and Uncertainty: Knowledge, Science and Technology”

Talia Fried and Nadav Even-Chorev

            On Jan. 4, 2015 the Knowledge, Science and Technology Studies section of the Israel Sociology Association convened at Bar-Ilan University for, “Between Risk and Uncertainty: Knowledge, Science and Technology”, its first discussion evening. The event attracted about 40 enthusiasts, and was held in cooperation with Bar-Ilan’s Graduate Program in Science, Technology and Society. It included a keynote lecture and four research presentations.

            The main rationale for the discussion was the continuing debate on concepts of risk and uncertainty in STS.  Approaching risk and uncertainty form different directions, each presentation engaged with this basic question, as it operated in problems which the here and now.

            Thus, Uri Freiman, a Ph.D. student Bar Ilan’s STS program, presented “Techno-Politics and the Techno-Epistemology Framework,” which explored the theoretical underpinnings for a proposed social epistemology of networked technologies, emphasizing the theme of trust. Hagit Keysar, a Ph.D. student at the department of Politics and Government at Ben-Gurion University, presented her research on civic aerial photography of politically- and environmentally-contested terrains. Her case study of the Jerusalem “Public Lab” civic mapping project showed how patch-work technologies made of common artifacts both challenge authoritative state and scientific knowledge and are used to deal with localized risks. Rony Blank-Gomel, a Ph.D. student at the department of Sociology at McGill University, traced the development of scientific controversy over definition of bicycle risks and the use of helmets to mitigate them. His research positions risk in the context of actor-networks producing competing scientific discourses. These have implications for the practical interventions on bicycle risks and an increasing emphasis on the connection between health and transportation fields of knowledge. Dr. Vered Malka, who teaches at the department of Communications at Emek Yizrael Academic College, presented a study of Israelis’ use of the Whatsapp social media app during ‘Operation Protective Edge.’ The presentation emphasized citizens' use of technology to facilitate collective action and the reduction of individualized and group uncertainty in times of conflict.

            Prof. Nadav Davidovitch, of Ben-Gurion University’s department of Health Systems Management, while reviewing the presentations, asked whether researchers – and the research itself – should stay detached from their subject matter, or should they get involved, and to what extent. This theme was echoed in both the keynote presentation and in the response to it. Keynote speaker Dr. Michal Givoni of the department of Politics and Government at Ben-Gurion University argued for a more encompassing, critical, political theory within STS.  Dr. Givoni examined the rise of digital technologies and practices for mapping humanitarian catastrophes, arguing that the case of disaster mapping would seem to suggest a binary ethical choice between humanitarian management with chronic disaster areas on one hand, and the profit-driven interests of corporate investors and beneficiaries in digital communications technologies on the other. However, Givoni argued that, in practice, these two choices are in fact well-aligned, since public participation in the world of digitized catastrophes actually strengthens preexisting arrangements in global politics, rather than challenges them.

            This insight opened a discussion on the possibility of political action and change in how society uses technology for managing risk and uncertainty. Discussant Dr. Boaz Miller of the STS program argued for a possibility of democratic collective action enabled by the shared use of new technologies. The ensuing discussion demonstrated the deep political and social commitments guiding STS, especially regarding risk and uncertainty. Though many times accused of a lack of canon or of eclecticism, engaging with technology, risk and uncertainty as presented in the discussion points to the relevance of STS for global and in particular local contexts. The presentations and comments, each from its own perspective, all addressed the political issue of involvement with current phenomena.