9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN22 Sociology of Risk and Uncertainty

2009-09-03 09:00:00 2009-09-03 10:30:00 Thursday, 3 September 09:00 - 10:30 Theory I Building I, 2E2

Risk and responsibility in a manufactured world

Critics of traditional understandings of risk, responsibility and the division of labour between science and politics make a case for the intimate connection between facts and values, drawing from the acknowledgement of the co-produced character of the natural and social orders a demand for less ambitious and more inclusive policy processes. Yet within the neo-liberal political economy uncertainty, rather than of unmanageable surprises, becomes a source of opportunities open to individual craftsmanship. Difficulties in responsibility ascription stem as a consequence. In my paper I will focus on gene technologies, which offer a vantage point for reflecting on the consequences of the drift from discovery to invention as a master frame in the appraisal of human intermingling with the world. Biotech patenting connects contingency with an expanding agency which, by crafting nature, crafts also the distinction between manufactured and non-manufactured world. I will argue that it is likely not by "democratizing" knowledge production that politics and economy can be democratized and responsibilities rearranged, but rather the opposite.