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The Science-Technology Relationship: A Model and a Query Author(s): Barry Barnes Source: Social Studies of Science, Vol.

12, No. 1 (Feb., 1982), pp. 166-172 Published by: Sage Publications, Ltd. Stable URL: . Accessed: 15/02/2014 07:20
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Notes and Letters(continued)

acknowledged to the emergenceof whatis generally ThisNote draws attention relationship. model of the science-technology interactive to be a very satisfactory It goes on to ask whysuch a model should not be extendedto describethe besides thatof technology. of science withothersub-cultures, relationship

The Science-Technology Relationship: A Model and a Query


to raise questionsand point out some possible This verybriefNote seeks merely analogies and connections;it addressesno issues of substance,nor does it involve I have felt to proceed entitled at proofor demonstration. Accordingly, anyattempts in a semi-mythological way, using abstractionsratherthan actual historicallyto the literature sparinglyand unsituated models and theories,and referring systematically. The Model in our thinking about the science-technology I startwiththe major reorientation whichhas occurredin recentyears. We are now much less prone to relationship workto science,and have the former whichsubordinate thinkin terms technology to scienceand technology Insteadwe recognize of thelatter. ingout theimplications extendand develop creatively be on a par witheach other.Bothsetsof practitioners of theirexisting culture;but both also take up and exploitsome partof the culture Social Studies of Science (SAGE, Londonand Beverly Hills),Vol. 12 (1982), 166-72

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Notes and Letters:Barnes:ScienceTechnology


TABLE 1 Conceptionsof the Relationship BetweenScience (S) and Technology(T)

THE INSTITUTIONS COMPARED S T 'BAD OLD DAYS' Discovery Creation of knowledge Application Use of knowledge MAJOR RESOURCES S Nature T Science S Existing science T Existing technology S T PRESENT Invention Invention



S State of nature T State of science S Creative /constructive T Routine/deductive THEIR RELATIONSHIP


No single major constraint No single major constraint

S Creative /constructive T Creative /constructive

GENERAL IM AGE Hierarchical MAIN MEDIATING AGENCIES OUTCOMES a. For the development of knowledge a.

T dependence S T





Predictable consequences. T deduces the implications

of S


No predictable consequences. T makes occasional creative use of S. S makes occasional creative use of T. Interaction

and gives them physical representation. No feedback from T to S. b. For the development of competence and technique For the evaluation of knowledge and competence b. S may make free creative use of T as resource in research. b.

Not a separate question. Interaction as above.



S evaluates discoveries in an unchanging context-independent way. T is evaluated according to its ability to infer the implications of S. Success in T is proper use of S; failure in T is incompetent use of S.


S and T, both being inventive, both involve evaluation in terms of ends. No a priori reason why activity in T should not be evaluated by reference to ends relevant to agents in S, or vice versa.

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ofScience SocialStudies

bypersonalmobilipredominantly whichtendsto be transferred theother- culture activity of institutionalized as forms and sciencecould both survive ty. Technology relationship in a symbiotic are in factenmeshed butthey of theother, independently whichlooks muchthe same whichever interaction, - a weak, mutually beneficial way round it is considered. thandocumenin Table 1. Rather form is setout in an extreme This reorientation of thetable, I relyupon thereaderto recognizethe thecontents tingand justifying evenin the modelhad credibility, How farthehierarchical twomodelsit represents. to modelattributed 'bad old days', is a mootpoint;butI do hope thattheinteractive to no by most readers.Althoughit corresponds day will be recognized the present which,I believe,capturesmuch of the basic specificopinion, it is an abstraction thinking.' of current structure of an infortheemergence werenecessary developments At least two intellectual of as forms had bothto be recognized model. First,scienceand technology teractive fromold culture:it had to be accepted that new sciencedevelops predominantly to In thecase of science,thetendency old technology. from science,newtechnology solely to nature,and to give littleexplicitstressto received relate new findings an constituted knowledge,whetherexistingscience or inputs from technology, undue been overcome.In the case of technology, obstacle whichhas only recently in the interest concernwiththe role of sciencein innovationfora long timestifled far more important role of existing technology. Fortunately,historians of thebalance: thereis no longerany difficulty are now rapidlyredressing technology out of old ones, and in perceivingthat new machines develop predominantly and procedures.2 patterns materials, analogouslywithinstruments, It had to be was moresubtleand far-reaching. development The secondnecessary So long as theories implications. does not have inherent accepted that knowledge could be seenas technology to have suchimplications, werethought and discoveries a routineactivitywhereinthose implicationswere deduced and realized. Any and made out as a logicalconcould be tracedbackwards, innovation technological in the line of its encountered or discovery theory sequence of the newestscientific theso-called'lag' betand innovation, theory and theperiodbetween development; researchand its application,could be used as a measure of ween fundamental helpedto reorientate of technology But again, historians inefficiency. technological neverhard to see; that whatwas surely thatwe recognize theyinsisted our thinking: as a rationalintuition; of the solid statedid not evoketransistors quantumt.heories do theories that Marconi did not followfromMaxwell; that,in general,scientific books attached.As withinstruction not arrive,like calculatorsor quartz-watches, beyond is "implied" in a discovery 'nothing stressed, JosephBen-Davidhas rightly and the questionsansweredby it, and those to whichit is relatedby the traditions mentalhabitsof thepeople who are its primeconsumers.'3 Nor can technologists rely 'discoveries'have no logical implications. Scientific and mentalhabits' to arriveat whatmay be takento be 'imupon their'traditions we mustexpect are not 'primeconsumers'.Accordingly, plications': technologists to exploitscientific work,just as theyfreand imaginatively actively technologists there culture.4 own technological Cognitively, of their exploitthe resources quently of a scientific thecreation theory to be drawnbetween distinction is no fundamental and development and its subsequentapplication.Justas the one is the imaginative so too is theother.And so also, in just of existing knowledge, reordering purposive

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Notes and Letters:Barnes:ScienceTechnology


the same way, is the exploitationof technologicalinnovationin the contextof science. Thus, the current interactive model of the science-technology relationship has emerged.And a verysatisfactory modelit is, giventhatno suchconstruct, however withthecomplexities can cope perfectly sophisticated, of real relationships, or allow forthe negotiable of thetwo concepts,'science' and essentially contested character and 'technology'.5The utility of the model in empiricalstudiesis alreadywidely recognized, and its widerheuristic value is beginning to be apparent.For example, - aconce we thinkin terms of inventive of theinteraction of twocontexts activity to humanobjectives tivity - it is whichof itsnaturedemandsevaluationin relation easy to understand how judgement in one context becomeconditioned may readily by objectives,and hence criteria,fromthe other.This overlap, or even total interpenetration, of the objectivesand judgementsof technologists and scientists, of eitheractivity, everywhere apparentin the history presentsmuch greaterdifficulties of conceptualization whenthealternative model is employed. hierarchical The Query For present purposes,however, myassessment of themerits of theinteractive model is irrelevant. I need onlydescribeit,in thehope thatthereaderwillrecognize it and concede thehighregardin whichit is widelyheld. This opens thepath to thequery whichis the cruxof myNote. Whyshouldan interactive model of thiskindnot be used as a way of conceptualizing therelationship of sciencewithothersub-cultures? Why, for example, should the relationshipbetween science and political subcultures, to theextent thatthereis such a relationship, not be conceptualized in this way, or therelationship betweenscienceand our everyday commonsense culture? It is certainly easy to speculateupon why,as a matter of fact,thismove is rarely made. A plausiblehypothesis is thatour willingness to describea sub-culture as in symmetrical interactionwith science, and our willingnessto evaluate it as epistemologically comparable withscience are intimately connected.Technology, obviouslyand impressively efficacious and thereby in a sensevalid, is possiblythe only formof culturewhich can interactwith science, and hence affectscience, without dangerto thestanding of thelatter. To say this,however,is onlyto say whyan interactive conception is not used; I ask whyit shouldnot be used. At present, whena relationship is perceived between scienceand (say) politics, thetendency is to presume thatscienceis used bypolitical sub-cultures butthatscienceis itself untouched bythisuse, or byitsgeneralrelationship to the politicalcontextat thatpoint. An hierarchical model is employed,and the possibility of interaction, and henceof inputsinto science,is not considered.I suggestthat an interactive model should always be used in such cases, that the possibility of feedbackinto science should always be investigated as a matterof routine, and thatzero feedbackshouldbe treated merely as a possibleempirical finding. Consider how much can be said in favourof such a policy. First,thereis the generally acknowledgedmeritof the interactive model as a representation of the science-technology relationship. Secondly,thereis the character of the arguments whichsupport theadoptionof themodelin thatcontext. Thesearguments do notrequiretheexistence of anyspecialor distinctive features in thesub-cultures of science

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Social Studiesof Science

to of such features theimputation it was precisely On thecontrary, and technology. model of hierarchical culturewhichsustainedthe earlier,unsatisfactory, scientific which of thatimputation and theabandonment relationship, thescience-technology model treatsscience model to be justified.The interactive allowed the interactive thandid of culture as muchmorecloselyanalogous to otherforms and technology is relationship thatthescience-technology And thisin turnsuggests its predecessor. Finalsub-cultures. between analogous to otherrelationships to be relevantly likely in a conis understood interaction ly, thereis the factthatthe science-technology are now common features siderabledegreeof detail,and thatmanyof its principal which endow currencyamong us. These are preciselythe two characteristics versatile value, whichmake thempotentmetaphors, withheuristic representations tools of thought. is but weaklyconne.ted to the At presentthe studyof science and technology studyof the generalsocial and politicalcontextof science:althoughthereis some betweenthe fields,theredoes not appear to be a readyinteroverlapof personnel indicates and models. Recentworkin thelatterfield,however, changeof methods It of the former. the development be recapitulating thatit may now independently to speak of the social or has fora long timebeen standardpracticeforhistorians scienceto 'society', has beenassumedfrom politicaluses of science:one way traffic derived withthe role of the latterbeingsolelyto use, or to misuse,the knowledge to or to attachfalse'implications' to deduce itsreal 'implications' the former, from relationship of 'society'has beenset belowscience,and their it. The profaneculture - precisely in as was done withtechnology hierarchically has been conceptualized But the a possiblesourceof defilement. the'bad old days' whenittoo was reckoned and theassociated treatment, trendis to call intoquestionthisasymmetrical current whatis involvedis thatwherescienceis used in a generalsocial context assumption mereuse, and not interaction. on the 'social uses' of eighteenth-century For example,a greatrangeof materials science has recently been gathered together by Shapin, who has tellingly of the conception, to an understanding how the 'uses' are relevant demonstrated of matShapinnoteshow theories and evaluationof thescienceitself.6 development the period of the to further interests throughout ter were deployedas strategies werefavoured over matter of spirit the primacy Theoriesasserting Enlightenment. theories of clericalhierarchies; locatingpowersin elitesand supporters by spiritual weredeployed of spirit or eventheexistence, theprimacy, and denying itself matter theoriesof, among Thus the matter by opponentsof those elitesand hierarchies. social and politicaluses. It is all had important others,Boyle,Newtonand Priestley of theories to assume thatthe matter both arbitrary and, as it happens,incorrect, with the social and these men of science originatedin ways quite unconnected in his technicalscientific political uses. Boyle's a prioriconviction,so important and lackingin inherent powers,was no mereindividual was inert work,thatmatter or expedienttechnicalassumption;nor was Newton's view of the idiosyncracy and materialism as richin spiritand poor in matter;nor was Priestley's universe were If Boyle,Newtonand Priestley forthephlogiston theory. affection consequent withthewider whichinteracted sciencewas a sub-culture menof science,thentheir hand columnof Table 1. in a way welladumbrated by the right culture of in thesocial history trends of emerging representative Thisexampleis genuinely Yet it is clear in sociologyand politicalscience.7 science,and of parallelmovements rethevery and theworkit does in reinterpreting itsvocabulary, its structure, from

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ScienceTechnology Barnes: Notes andLetters:


at persuaan attempt materials upon whichit relies,thatit represents centprimary suspectto both cognitively alien and evaluatively sion on behalf of a framework of history much of its audience. Withinthe contextof the social and intellectual thatthere shouldbe suchsuspicion.But to and indeeddesirable, scienceitis natural, of intelligibility, or stimulates contheextent producesproblems thattheframework ceptual questions, it is surely relevantto note that it already exists in a well relationship. developed formas the acceptedmodel of the science-technology


1. In lieu of documentation, I cite W. Gruberand G. Marquis (eds), Factorsin the Transfer Mass.: MIT Press, 1969),as one marker of Technology (Cambridge, of the pointat whichtheinteractive and itsmerits achievedclear visibility. conception The contribution of D. J. de S. Priceto thisvolumeremains one of thebestgeneral presentations of current thinking about the science-technology relation.A good sourceforfurther is theexcellent developments bibliographical essayby E. Layton, 'Conditionsof TechnologicalDevelopment',in I. Spiegel-Rosing and D. J. de S. Price (eds), Science, Technology and Society(London and BeverlyHills, Calif.: Sage, 1977), 197-222. 2. Diffuse long-termtrends are being referredto here, which cannot be associated withspecificcontributions. No doubt, Kuhn's workon researchtraditionsand Price's upon research literatures have specialsignificances as faras science is concerned.Withregardto technology, one has to consider theoveralltendency in suchconcrete historical studies as thoseof Cardwell,Hughesor Layton(cf. Layton, op. cit. note 1). 3. J. Ben-David, FundamentalResearch and the Universities (Paris: OECD, 1968),50. This perceptive insight into 'implication'as a matter of habitand custom is suggestive in manyotherways. 4. For a generalaccountalongtheselinessee D. Schon, Technology and Change (Oxford:Pergamon,1967); fora very brief concrete M. Gibbonsand C. illustration, Johnson, between 'Relationship Scienceand Technology', Nature,Vol. 227 (11 July 1970), 125-27. 5. Cf. 0. Mayr, 'The Science-Technology Relationshipas a Historiographic Problem', Technology and Culture,Vol. 17 (1979), 663-73. 6. S. Shapin, 'Social Uses of Science', in G. S. Rousseau and R. Porter(eds), The Ferment of Knowledge (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1980), 93-139.Shapin himself notesthat'A properperspective of theuses of sciencemight revealthatthe sociologyof knowledge and the history of technology have morein commonthan is usuallythought'(ibid., 132). 7. Cf. the manyreferences in Porterand Rousseau, op. cit. note 6; B. Barnes and S. Shapin (eds), Natural Order(BeverlyHills, Calif.: Sage, 1979); R. Wallis (ed.), On theMarginsof Science: The Social Construction of RejectedKnowledge (Keele, Staffs.:University of Keele, SociologicalReviewMonographNo. 27, 1979); and G. Lemaineet. al. (eds), Perspectives on theEmergence of Scientific Disciplines (The Hague: Mouton, 1976).

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SocialStudies ofScience

Author'saddress: Science Studies Unit,Edinburgh University, 34 Buccleuch Place, Edinburgh EH8 9JT, Scotland, UK.

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