Earlier this summer saw the publication of the first issue of Volume 3 of the Journal of Responsible innovation. In this post we review the issue, the first to be published under new Editor In Chief Erik Fisher.
In his first editorial in this position, Fisher describes how the journal has grown since its launch 2 years ago, thanking the Editorial Board and in particular Emeritus Chief Editor David Guston for all of their hard work. He describes how the Research Council of Norway have recently adopted an explicit framework for RRI, very much following in the tracks of several research bodies, universities and policy-makers across the world.
Fisher concludes his editorial with an overview of the current issue of the journal.
In The grit in the oyster: using energy biographies to question socio-technical imaginaries of ‘smartness’, Christopher Groves, Karen Henwood, Fiona Shirani, Catherine Butler, Karen Parkhill and Nick Pidgeon show how a novel combination of narrative interviews and multimodal methods can help explore future imaginaries of smartness through the lens of biographical experiences of socio-technical changes in domestic energy use.
This is a fine paper that conducts an analysis of different individual perspectives drawn from interviews in which people with divergent social experiences and lifestyles discuss their relationships to energy use.
The authors begin from the idea that social technology assessment requires a critical
space in which to explore the ‘worlds’ of future imaginaries, arguing the need for thick ethnographic data in order to describe the forms of life that different types of technology make possible. They argue that such data is necessary to inform deliberation about possible futures, questioning the argument that the social assessment of technologies and their imaginaries can only take place through explicitly constituted public arenas such as citizens’ juries and consensus consequences.
The researchers presented narrative biographical interviews and documents of social imaginaries (such as films) in order to allow their interviewees to explore the implications of visions of future lives that centre on new realizations of convenience and smartness, with interesting results.
Care and engagement are two of the topics that run through the text, with much debate reported on their relationships to convenience and the new technologies that afford it, with a particular focus on care-ful practices, from which the title of the article is drawn.
In Inclusive deliberation and action in emerging RRI practices: the case of neuroimaging in security management, Irja Marije de Jong, Frank Kupper and Jacqueline Broerse describe their experimental attempt to facilitate inclusive deliberation, a core aspect of Responsible Research and Innovation, at a very early stage in a controversial field of security.
The article describes how a group of neuroscientists and a group of security professionals were brought together in order to construct imaginaries of neuro-imaging applications within security working practices. The central question revolved around new neuro-imaging techniques and whether they would be capable of predicting criminal behaviour.
Focus groups and interviews were used to solicit both imaginaries of the capabilities and uses of such technologies and post experiment feelings and experiences, with differing results both between and within each group.
The experiment is framed within an RRI argument, as an attempt to bring various stakeholders together at an early stage of the technology’s development in order to investigate the effect of such an event upon the reflexive status of the participants. The authors describe how the reflexive capacities of each group was affected (apparently more so in the case of the professionals than the scientists), and how the two sides saw the development of these technologies and their possible applications.
The experiment was also designed to highlight the possible problems of looking for the technological fix for the security problem (for example in airports), by presenting the non technological approach taken by social psychologists alongside the technological approach, and the results seem to show that security professionals view such high technology as providing a lead upon which to act, rather than evidence of criminal intent.
In Social Life Cycle Assessment as a resource for Responsible Research and Innovation, Erik Thorstensen and Ellen-Marie Forsberg ask what RRI can learn from sustainability and how RRI and sustainability can strengthen each other, focusing especially on social sustainability.
The authors suggest that the social life cycle approach (S-LCA) of the United Nations Environmental Programme and the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry may address the product aspect of RRI, provide resources for governance in the face of the problem of anticipation, facilitate a useful value-chain approach and offer several other benefits in an RRI perspective. Conversely, they argue that RRI can complement sustainability models by more specifically addressing the responsibilities of the different actors involved in the research, innovation and marketing process.
The article represents a push to tying RI and sustainability together, through describing benefits of using S-LCA in RRI and the usefulness of a value chain approach for RI. Much of the article is however aimed at some of the problematic points and discussions surrounding S-LCA, but the authors conclude that “the methodological uncertainties of the S-LCA may be another reason for not using this in RRI product assessments. However, it is not necessarily better to refrain from systematically gathering information just in order to avoid the uncertainties related to the results.”
In Five rules of thumb for post-ELSI interdisciplinary Collaborations, Andrew S. Balmer, Jane Calvert, Claire Marris, Susan Molyneux-Hodgson, Emma Frow, Matthew Kearnes, Kate Bulpin, Pablo Schyfter, Adrian Mackenzie and Paul Martin identify five rules of thumb for interdisciplinary collaboration across the natural and social sciences.
The authors draw upon their experiences of and reflections on interactions with natural scientists and engineers in the context of synthetic biology to offer five rules of thumb for working as social scientists in natural science contexts:
The rules can be summarized as follows:
Experimentation with post-ELSI forms of integration should be developed collaboratively with scientists and engineers.
Risks are necessary, both in terms of one’s career path and how to represent research and findings.
Reflexive practice is vital to fruitful collaborations with scientists and engineers and to the possibility of making the move from instrumental and imposed roles to more co-productive and chosen ones.
During the research those involved should continue to negotiate expectations around what we hope to achieve from these collaborative experiments and what a successful impact might look like.
Social and natural scientists should be neighbourly, meaning to recognize the differences between the two groups and to respect them, whilst seeking to welcome each other without losing ones sense of oneself and commitments, responsibilities and proclivities.
In Responsible innovation in industry: a cautionary note on corporate social Responsibility, Thomas A. Hemphill describes how in the recent paper “Responsible Innovation: A Primer for Policymakers”, authored by Valdivia and Guston, the authors use “corporate social responsibility” as the managerial philosophy proposed to promote RI in industry.
The author is critical of this suggestion, and after arguing the weakness of the CSR concept goes on to describe the concept of corporate citizenship, arguing that it represents “an applied, integrative approach to implementing socially responsible policies and behavior congruent with the fundamental values of the firm’s stakeholders and embedded in its organizational structure, operations, and performance metrics”.
The author concludes by arguing that corporate citizenship is the managerial framework that can best promote RI.
Once again the Journal of Responsible Innovation offers a fine array of interesting and thought provoking articles, several of which are available on open access. We would like to congratulate Erik Fisher in his new position as Editor in Chief, and look forward to continuing our collaboration with the journal.
ALL THE REVIEWS of the Journal by Jonathan Hankins:
Volume 4 part 1