4-6 May 2020
Europe/Vienna timezone

G - Predicting, Promoting and Shaping socio-technical Change

G.1 Cultures of Prediction

Christian Dayé (Graz University of Technology)

This session invites abstracts of papers that explore cultures of prediction in a variety of settings. Proposed initially by Gary Alan Fine (2007), the concept of cultures of prediction focuses on the social processes involved in delivering predictions and establishing their justification. It emphasizes that claiming knowledge about something that cannot be known – the future – implies a series of fundamental problems. To address and eventually establish a solution to these problems is collective achievement of both prediction practitioners and their audiences.

While the concept has been considerably developed since its first appearance (Daipha 2015; Heymann, Gramelsberger and Mahony 2017; Pietruska 2018), it is plausible to assume that its true potential lies in a comparative discussion of various cultures of prediction. Like other epistemic cultures, cultures of prediction have changed dramatically in the recent decades, and digitalization appears to be the crucial factor in most of these changes. The actions, rituals, and structures by which knowledge claims are produced, stabilized, communicated, and evaluated have been affected fundamentally by the developments in data infrastructure and accessability brought about by digitalization. For instance, with more data are available to more people, a “democratization” of some cultures of prediction could be observed (e.g. in weather prediction). A comparative view therefore allows for identifying the strategies used by different cultures of prediction to cope with these developments and to maintain—or re-establish—a position of trustworthiness, authority, and credibility in the digital era.

Against this background, this session invites papers that discuss how various cultures of prediction construct predictions, justify their doings, manage competing knowledge claims, and cope with doubt and, eventually, failure. These discussions are not required to focus on prediction in the sciences alone. On the contrary, the processes and mechanisms defining cultures of prediction extend far beyond the realm of academic science, and the session attempts to address them very broadly.



Daipha, Phaedra. 2015. Masters of Uncertainty: Weather Forecasters and the Quest for Ground Truth. Chicago, London: University of Chicago Press.

Fine, Gary Alan. 2007. Authors of the Storm: Meteorologists and the Culture of Prediction. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.

Heymann, Matthias, Gabriele Gramelsberger, and Martin Mahony. 2017. Cultures of Prediction in Atmospheric and Climate Science: Epistemic and Cultural Shifts in Computer-Based Modelling and Simulation. Taylor & Francis.

Pietruska, Jamie L. 2018. Looking Forward: Prediction & Uncertainty in Modern America. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.


KEYWORDS: Forecasting, future, prognosis, epistemic cultures, science and technology studies

G.2 STS & Design – Design for Sustainability, Design for Society

Egger, Stefanie (FH JOANNEUM - University of Applied Sciences Graz)

Design Research and Science & Technology Studies have a lot in common: Both try to take into account people and things at the same time instead of looking only at one of the two. An important question in both fields is how socio-technical configurations are shaped.

Engineers, designers and architects of all fashion conceive of and create the technical world we are surrounded by. In order to enhance the dialogue between practitioners of different design disciplines and STS scholars, this session wants to cherish all design undertakings guided by or analyzed with STS tools and concepts. From urban planning to devising everyday objects to creating a digital landscape. In this context, one of the most important challenges for designers today is to help create a more sustainable world. However, looking only at the world of artifacts – the technical world – has severe limitations for those who want to enrich the social world while promoting shifts towards sustainability. Concepts and thinking tools that help to understand the entanglement of the technical and the social might be essential for promoting shifts toward sustainability. Intertwining findings from Design Research activities and Science and Technology Studies may be vital for sustainable design and can be fruitful for STS research as well.

This session wants to strengthen connections between Design Research and Science and Technology Studies and at the same time challenge technically and “digital-only” focused approaches to design. The session especially welcomes papers, posters and presentations (also analogue and/or artifact-based) addressing at least one of the following questions:
Bearing in mind that users and objects configure each other, how can we take into account these processes of co-configuration regarding sustainable design? How can an STS approach stimulate design processes? How can STS perspectives help designers to implement sustainable products and practices?

All types of research tackling sustainability design issues as well as challenging frameworks of meaning and contexts of practice, discussions and presentations connecting research in STS and design are welcome in this session


KEYWORDS: socio-technical configurations, design research, sustainability, concepts


G.3 Returning Earth to men and men to Earth: an ecosystem approach to public policy, advocacy and education

Pilon, André Francisco (University of São Paulo / International Academy of Science, Health & Ecology)

Predicting, promoting and shaping socio-technical change implies a confrontation with vested interests and lock-ins and barriers sustained by the paradigms of growth, power, wealth, work and freedom embedded into the political, technological, economic, social, cultural and educational institutions.

How Earth can be retrieved (regenerate) by the retrieval (regeneration) of men? How men can be retrieved (regenerate) by the retrieval (regeneration) of Earth? How people are engaged as social, political, economic and institutional actors? How the different forms of being in the world affect the process of change?

“Being-in-the-world” encompasses different dimensions: man’s relationship with himself (intimate dimension), man’s relationship with his fellow beings (interactive dimension), man’s relationship with overall society (social dimension), man’s relationship with his environment (biophysical dimension).

Planning and evaluation of public policies, advocacy, communication, reserch and teaching programmes should take into account all dimensions, as they combine to elicit the events, suffer the consequences and organize for change, a process of exploration, inquiry and discovery, both in the academy and in society at large.

Priority is given to a set of values, norms and policies related to human well-being, quality of life and natural and built environments, supporting the development of socio-cultural learning niches to change perspectives, develop boundary-crossing skills, and cope with complexity and expertise in a critical and creative way.

Institutional capacity, judicial neutrality, informational transparency and social spaces for public engagement, is a process of exploration, inquiry and discovery, encompassing a thematic (“what”), an epistemic (“how”) and a strategic (policies) approach to environmental problems, quality of life and the state of the world.

Educational and mass communication policies aligned to “entrepreneurship” and “development”, are not adequate to prepare people as agents of change; “social inclusion” only accommodate people to the prevailing order: once “included", a new wave of egocentric producers and consumers reproduce the system responsible for their former exclusion,

Anthropogenic views do not distinguish between the whole of the human beings and the destructive action on nature and culture of political and economical groups deeply ingrained at local and international level. States must oblige corporations in their countries of origin and in their operations worldwide to comply with their environmental duties.

The accumulation of wealth to the exclusion of other components of the development process (safety, health, education, equity, ethics, justice, beauty) has led to natural devastation and severe social and cultural impacts, with high levels of crime and violence in different parts of the world.

Academic reports and conceptual frameworks are not powerful enough to prevent aggressively backsliding on commitments to international agreements. Some countries still use “sovereignty” to disregard common collaborative partnerships towards basic ecosystems policies and norms object of international agreements and recommendations.

We invite submissions to propose, analyse and improve new approaches to environmental problems, quality of life and the state of the world. Contributions may address, but are not limited to institutional capacities, judicial neutrality, informational transparence and social spaces for public engagement from thematic (what), epistemic (how) and strategic (policies) angles.


KEYWORDS: Education, culture, politics, economics, environment