Tracks & abstracts

Here you can find all confirmed symposium tracks.

1) Collaboration and competition in techno-economies

Ilpo Helén

University of Eastern Finland;

Hanna Lehtimäki

University of Eastern Finland;

Today, cutting-edge science and research, development, and innovation in high-tech are profoundly entangled with economic assumptions and commercial expectations. Technoscientific innovation does not occur in isolation but takes place in techno-economic domains in intersection of public and private sectors. These techno-economic domains are usually characterized by innovative activities and arrangements crossing and blurring conventional national, institutional, and disciplinary borders, as well as boundaries between public academic institutions and private business. The conventional view of innovation favours entrepreneurship as the central force behind wealth creation. A contemporary understanding highlights the role of governments and public sector that are significant sources of funding in innovation. Yet, there is a call for radically different types of approaches on value creation, value extraction, value destruction and value disappearance.

The discussion of this track will be focused on rationales and practices of value creation and making up value potential in such milieux for innovative R&D and business. Practices and configurations of collaboration between stakeholders, and the role and forms of competition in emerging techno-economic domains are the specific topics of interest in this track.

Questions on these topics are multiple: How collaboration, competition and their roles are conceived of by different stakeholders? Why collaboration is sought, with which partners, and by which means collaboration is pursued? What kind of new economic and business formations (e.g., ecosystems of platforms) collaborative value creation engenders? How competition figures in these new formations, and what forms does it take? What kinds of changes in value creation logics can be detected in emerging techno-economic domains? How do public and private sector actors join authoring the value creation narrative of innovation? What kinds of novel openings for radically different types of reasoning of value we can detect?

We call for presentations addressing these or alike questions through theoretical or conceptual inquiry or through an empirical analysis of a specific techno-economic domain. Contributions from a variety of approaches in STS, social sciences and business studies are very welcomed.  


2) Societal impact of research – a rethink needed

Reetta Muhonen

University of Turku,

In recent years, academics have witnessed mounting distrust towards science and particularly to social sciences and humanities (SSH), which have been accused of spending taxpayers’ money on ‘useless’ research. The most profound contributions of research are not always visible to laypeople as they are seldom concrete and tangible, but instead, they are diffuse and conceptual by their nature. Thus, it is not only SSH fields who are confronted with the claims for more valuable research, but the call for uses of research concerns at some extent all disciplines.

In parallel, research institutions and research funding agencies have boosted their efforts to increase trust in science. Such efforts aim for instance at stimulating closer interactions between researchers and stakeholders. The practical implications of this trend are manifold and include requirements to integrate stakeholders as partners in research projects, call for detailed dissemination plans in research proposals, the growth of the communications profession within academic institutions, and promote and document the societal impact of research. Besides practical implications, ‘impact era’ raises challenges related to academic autonomy. Tensions between intrinsic and extrinsic aspirations in science are no novel issue in academia, but the challenges on science-society interface have long lain at the heart of the academic life.

This session focuses on exploring the challenges thrown up by the “impact era” stressing the utility of research, and welcomes scholars to explore the recent shifts in the science-society interface and the manifestations of these shifts in the academia. What are the characteristics of the claims for more societally relevant research in our time? How the characteristics of “impact era” we are living through differ from the earlier times? What kinds of opportunities and/or challenges these shifts bring along with them? Also, what – if anything – is lost in a process that its critics decry as “instrumentalization” of science? The suggested topics may involve but need not to limit to the questions related to societal impact of research, drivers and hurdles of societally relevant research, research collaboration, and issues related to encouraging, evaluating and measuring impact.


3) Collaboration as an achievement, micro-ethnographic perspectives on collaboration

Ilkka Arminen

University of Helsinki,

Aurora Guxholli

University of Helsinki

Sanna Tiilikainen

Aalto University

The track calls for methodological reflections on collaboration. We ask what collaboration is and how it can be achieved. Moreover, we want to know how it has been investigated and how different methods inform our understanding of it in different ways.  We invite presentations that address collaboration as a matter of situated practices, conventions, and tacit understandings. In particular, we welcome micro-ethnographic perspectives on collaboration to offer insights on practices and procedures through which parties orient to building, maintaining or challenging collaborative engagements. We are also interested in practices and procedures through which attempts are made to restore the threatened or compromised collaboration.  Among our interests are the social organization of interdisciplinary collaboration including distribution of types of expertise, ways of overcoming epistemic and interest disparities and uses of media and technologies in the arrangements of collaboration. In all, we want to encourage discussions on embodied, ethical and political aspects of the micro-foundations of collaboration across disciplinary and institutional divides. Our goal is to offer an arena for discussion of methodical tools to gain refined sense of what collaboration is and how situated practices may assist or threaten collaboration. Through a more granular view on the conditions of the achievement of collaboration we aim at building knowledge that may contribute toward designing good collaboration projects and practices, and assist preparing guidelines to good collaborative practices in interdisciplinary projects.

The track is open for discussion on collaboration in different kinds of settings and topical areas. In terms of methodologies, we invite micro-ethnographic perspectives that may have varied theoretical and methodical basis on humanities and social sciences and theories and methods ranging from ethnomethodology and conversation analysis to practice theory and ethnography. 


4) Collaborations between social science and arts

Heta Tarkkala 

University of Helsinki,

Annerose Böhrer

Friedrich Alexander Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg,

Marie-Kristin Döbler 

Friedrich Alexander Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg,

In science proposals ‘interdisciplinary collaboration’ often refers to the various disciplinary backgrounds the research partners have in the academia. However, more experimental forms of collaboration between social scientists and artists from various fields – film, theatre, visual arts, comics and/or illustration – are executed too. For science and technology scholars and social scientists, these collaborations offer a new angle on how to approach knowledge production and circulation in our own field. They allow us to reflect on the worlds we bring into being through our own engagements in our work. Further, science-art-cooperation can also enable new ways of communicating and collaborating with informants and open up innovative avenues in science communication.

This panel wants to invite researchers as well as their artist partners to reflect and discuss these collaborations from various different viewpoints be they ethical, practical, theoretical or methodological. We hope to explore the potentials and (im)possibilities of interdisciplinary cooperation of sciences with arts and artists also from unexpected viewpoints. We wish to address the new resources, side projects and creative potentials that the collaboration has perhaps resulted in, but we also want to encourage discussions of possible limitations, uncertainties or simply moments when a different direction had to be taken. We hope to hear more about the creative ways of institutional border crossing that such collaborations often require. We are also curious to know if the collaboration resulted in alternative forms of writing and presenting research data and findings, or if it resulted in plans to institutionalise such fruitful border crossing engagements.


5) Maintenance, creativity, and affective involvement in collaborative infrastructures

Daria Jadreškić

University of Klagenfurt, Austria

Martina Merz

University of Klagenfurt, Austria

Helene Sorgner
University of Klagenfurt, Austria,

Alongside the exchange of ideas, expertise, and skills within or between disciplines, the shared use of research instruments and infrastructures is characteristic of research collaborations. Particularly in Big Science efforts, sharing the burden of financing, building, and maintaining central research instruments such as telescopes or detectors is a key feature of collaboration that sustains it in the long run. Yet also smaller-scale or more informally organized research collaboration typically depends on some kind of communal infrastructure, be it research facilities, data repositories, or software applications, which need to be cared for, curated, and maintained. Whereas the maintenance of instruments and facilities has traditionally been delegated to ‘invisible technicians’ (Shapin), collaborative research tends to blur the boundaries between ‘technical’ and ‘scientific’ work, and the associated roles and expertise. Far from being invisible, instruments and infrastructures often become the focal point of collaborators’ attention, as technologies’ affordances and inherent temporalities shape epistemic practices in non-trivial ways. While maintenance work may be less recognized in public, it may at times be experienced as more immediately rewarding, innovative and creative than ‘scientific’ work. Foregrounding the central role of shared instruments and infrastructures, we aim to explore the status and appeal of maintenance work in collaborative research and its relation to other notions such as care, repair and ‘infrastructuring’.

We invite empirical contributions addressing one or more of the following questions:

  • How are collectively shared infrastructures and instruments maintained and cared for in collaborative work? What kinds of work are considered to be (mere) maintenance?
  • How is maintenance work embedded in, and how does it shape the temporal structures and dimensions of collaborative research?
  • How is maintenance and infrastructuring work distributed and recognized in research collaborations? What internal distinctions and boundaries are constructed or overcome in this process?
  • How are maintenance work, the expertise it requires, and the actors performing it made invisible and/or visible in research collaborations? Does the figure of the ‘invisible technician’ still play a role?
  • How can we define ‘infrastructuring’ in relation to maintenance? Are these distinct kinds of activities? If so, what other kinds of work, actors, and valuations does infrastructuring involve?
  • How does maintenance sustain conservation and innovation of collaborative infrastructures and instruments? Are there tensions and trade-offs between durability and innovation? In what ways can maintenance work be creative? 
  • Which care practices and affective relations occur in maintenance work? How do researchers identify with and valorize this work?
  • How does the maintenance of infrastructures and instruments reflect and shape organizational practices in research collaborations?


6) Aspects of collaboration I-III

FSSTS chairing

In these panel sessions we have thematically compiled the submissions that were not directed to the pre-existing tracks.


7) The recognition and enhancement of inter- and transdisciplinary academic identities

Mikko Salmela

University of Helsinki & University of Copenhagen, (Corresponding)

Bianca Vienni Baptista

ETH Zürich,

Kirsi Cheas

University of Vaasa, New York University,

The paradigmatic narrative of interdisciplinary research (IDR) and transdisciplinary research (TDR) presents them as collaboration of disciplinary and societal actors who come together to solve complex problems whose solution is beyond single disciplines. Similarly, the challenges of IDR/TDR – whether cognitive, interactional, or emotional – have been identified to emerge from divergent epistemic, methodological, and cultural commitments or practices of disciplines and societal actors (Mansilla et al., 2016; Salmela et al., 2021; Turner et al. 2015). However, these narratives do not recognise the existence of researchers who engage in IDR or TDR in their own work, in addition to collaborating with others. Those researchers are better equipped to avoid and resolve the challenges of IDR/TDR as the ability to bring together and synthesize different bodies of knowledge is the key expertise of researchers educated in ID and TD programs or projects (Felt et al., 2013; Lyall, 2019). Even so, these researchers have other serious challenges in contemporary academia. We relate these challenges to a problem of recognition of the academic identities of ID and TD researchers.

ID and TD researchers face institutional, social, and psychological challenges with having a positive academic identity. Achieving expertise in more than one discipline, as well as acquiring skills and competences to work with stakeholders or policy makers, are investments that take time and effort (Rogga & Zscheiscler, 2021; Killion et al., 2018). Unfortunately, these efforts are not typically appreciated by disciplinary communities that do not recognize other expertise beyond disciplinary. Moreover, academic positions and reward systems are organised in relation to disciplines, which can be detrimental to ID and TD researchers’ careers (Bridle et al., 2013; Salmela et al., 2021; Lyall, 2019). Finally, whereas education in a discipline produces a strong, positive academic identity, an ID or TD education or career development often leads to an identity crisis (Lyall, 2019). The reason is that ID and TD academic identities are precarious, undervalued, and anomalous in comparison to prestigious disciplinary academic identities (Lyall, 2019; Cuevas-Garcia, 2016).

Major investments to certain fields of IDR/TDR – most notably sustainability science – should not prevent us from seeing that the recognition of ID and TD researchers in most areas in the humanities and social sciences has received much less attention (Pedersen, 2016; Spaapen et al., 2020; Vienni Baptista et al., 2020). We identify this situation as a denial of recognition of the academic identities of ID and TD researchers, as a positive identity is a vital human need and a fundamental moral right of all researchers.

We invite individual papers that address the problem of recognition of ID and TD academic identities, as well as the emergence, development, and enhancement of such identities, from various theoretical and empirical perspectives with different methodologies.


8) Collaborations (and tensions) between science, technology and law 

Tomi Lehtimäki

University of Helsinki,

Terhi Esko

University of Helsinki,

As Jasanoff (2008) for example has noted, science and law are two of the most central ways of making order in modern societies, both operating as significant sources for producing certainty. At the same time, while they display a similar focus on constructing and establishing truth, as well as mobilizing evidence and expertise, they also differ in many significant ways in their ways of coordination. They are also both increasingly challenged in many way in contemporary societies, with their capacities to settle disputes and controversies being questioned in uncertain/tension-laden environments/contexts by diverse actors. One result of this can the increased collaboration and interaction between science, technology and law, as political turmoil, technological change and environmental problems result in novel controversies that need to be dealt with by engaging new combinations of scientific and legal practices.

These similarities and differences therefore produce both opportunities and tensions for collaboration. This panel session engages then in discussing various collaborations between science, technology and law. We welcome both empirical and theoretical presentations that deal with this topic. In addition to the general focus on the collaboration of these institutions and practices, presentations can address for example issues of participation in the science-technology-law nexus as a form of collaboration. Such issues can address both citizen and expert engagements with the legal system, how the law structures scientific practice, or how various technologies and techniques support and hinder participation. Additionally, interdisciplinary work that combines science, technology and law (or legal expertise) can be seen as an interesting domain.