WTMC PhD Winter School ‘A New Political Sociology of Science’ 10-14 January 2021 (online)

From Sunday 10 to Thursday 14 January 2021 WTMC will organize a PhD Winter School (online) with anchor teacher Pierre-Benoît Joly

Why is it necessary to (re)politicize STS? What does it mean? What are the implications from a methodological and epistemological standpoint?

This WTMC Winter School is dedicated to such questions and will invite participants to travel through a reflexive journey. This journey will first take stock of the Science and Technology Studies (STS) legacy and the way our community deals with politics. Joly’s main argument is that STS misses major issues.

Of course, STS has made a major shift in the way Social Sciences and Humanities (SSH) deal with the political. The introduction of non-human actors in so-called social processes means that it is now commonplace to use the expression socio-technical and to consider that technology and politics are strongly intertwined (hence the expression techno politics). The agency granted to non-humans, but also to different ways of knowing, is one of the major contributions of STS. It is also much-debated, as evidence by the debates on Actor-Network Theory. However, STS often has a novelty/innovation/plasticity/action bias that leads to the neglect of “structural” factors such as institutions, long standing asymmetries of power, etc. Accordingly, STS hardly engages with issues related to science, technology and innovation policies. Such issues are generally left to scholars working in innovation studies and in science policy.

Indeed, important questions remain unnoticed. For instance, if we take seriously one of the STS credo “innovation is society in the making”, why is it that science, technology, innovation (STI) fail to address major challenges such as inequality or environmental damages, etc.? And why is it that this issue is not a core one in our communities? What are our norms and values? What about our normative stances?

The reflexive journey will also lead us through different landscapes, namely a reflection on the research stances that are needed if we take seriously the way our research addresses these challenges. This will lead us to consider different entwinements of knowledge and action and to reflect on epistemological and methodological implications. These reflections will take advantage of the ongoing research experience of participants, which will be used to organize a collective experiment though the course of the Winter School.

The Winter School will offer many interesting insights in terms of both methodology and content. It is aimed at PhD candidates who are in the first phase of preparing their doctoral dissertations. We are delighted that Pierre-Benoît Joly will act as anchor teacher in this Winter School.

Pierre-Benoît Joly is an economist and sociologist, and Director of research at the National Institute of Research for Agriculture, Food and Environment (INRAE) in France. He holds a degree in agronomy (1982), a PhD in economics (1987) and the “Habilitation à diriger les recherches” (1995). From 2009 to 2015, he was the Director of the IFRIS (French Institute for Studies of Research and Innovation in Society) and of Labex (Laboratory of Excellence) SITES. He was then the founding director of LISIS, the interdisciplinary lab for research on science and innovation in society, based at Université Paris Est. Since January 2020 he is Regional Director of INRAE for the area Occitanie-Toulouse. His research activities are focused on the governance of collective risks, socio-technical controversies, the use of scientific advice in public decision making and the forms of public participation in scientific activities. He was Member of the expert group “Science and Governance” at the European Commission and  of the Council of European Association for the Study of Science and Technology (EASST). He is currently Member of the Council of the Science and Democraty Network, of the French Academy of Technology, and of the French Academy  of Agriculture. He has published about 120 articles (of which more than 70 in refereed journals), six books and he has coordinated five special issues of social sciences journals. He lectures at Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (EHESS) and at Sciences Po Paris.

In addition to anchor teacher Pierre-Benoît Joly, four key figures in research and policy will contribute to this Winter School:

  • Melanie Peters, director of the Rathenau Institute
  • Ismael Rafols, senior researcher at CWTS and associate faculty at the Science Policy Research Unit (SPRU) at the University of Sussex
  • Johan Schot, professor of Global History and Sustainability Transitions at the Utrecht University Centre for Global Challenges and Director of the Transformative Innovation Policy Consortium (TIPC)
  • Soraya Boudia, professor of sociology and history of science, Université de Paris


Preparation for the Winter School is estimated at 80 hours in total. The Winter School is credited with 5 ECTS. Full participation in all parts of the programme is required.

For external PhD candidates, a participation fee of €950 (€880 for EASST members) is charged.

After their acceptance, external participants will receive an email with an invoice and online-payment request and receipt. To participate, you must pay the fee via the online payment request. Registration to the Winter School is final after the advance payment has been received by WTMC.

For practical questions related to the Winter School, please contact Elize Schiweck: e.schiweck@utwente.nl.

For content-related questions, please contact the coordinators Anne Beaulieu: j.a.beaulieu@rug.nl or Andreas Weber: a.weber@utwente.nl.

Registration for this Winter School has been closed. 

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