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Experimental society

The knowledge society announces itself in a change of experimental practices. Thus the new volume in the series “Gesellschaft – Technik – Umwelt” (Society – Technology – Environment) analyzes the form experiment as dispositif in Foucault’s sense.
Publikation Experimentelle Gesellschaft Gesellschaft-Technik-Umwelt im Nomos Verlag
Source: Nomos

An inclined plane and balls: The experimental setup in which Galileo Galilei discovered acceleration was reproducible and objective – and also one of the first laboratory experiments. Experiments of this type conduce to the production of knowledge which can later be applied to new technologies. While this form still remains central, a change is taking place at the same time: Experimental practices spread in very different fields and do not only conduce to the production of scientific knowledge. Art, for example, uses them to explore new options for action or interpretation. At the same time, new problem constellations occur where experimenting enters a previously unknown dimension. The problem of climate change is such a constellation and climate engineering is an experimental practice with still unknown outcomes.

The volume “Experimentelle Gesellschaft – Das Experiment als wissensgesellschaftliches Dispositiv“ (Experimental society – the experiment as dispositif of the knowledge society), edited by Stefan Böschen (ITAS), Matthias Groß (Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research), and Wolfgang Krohn (Bielefeld University), focuses on the exploration of the said diversity of experimental practices.

Foucault’s dispositif and main topics of the edited volume

The editors explored the overarching question to which extent a dispositif of the (knowledge) society in Foucault’s sense is inherent in the experiment. Its symbolic meaning, motivation for action, and legitimizing force are more basic and far-reaching than the narrowed view on the experimental methodology of sciences reveals. An expert workshop held at ITAS in spring 2014 confirmed this assumption based on a wealth of contributions and perspectives. 

Against this background, the aim of the book project was to illustrate the diversity of experimental practices and to promote their theoretical-conceptual penetration. To this end, it is divided into three key aspects: The first one is centered around concepts, strategies, and problems of experimenting. The second one explores the relevance of experimental practices in different fields like climate, sports, and contemporary art. The third aspect finally brings together those contributions which describe urban experiments and reveal the diversity of experimental action patterns which are cultivated there – for example using a real-world experiment on climate policy in Berlin. (30.01.2018)

Bibliographic data: 

Böschen, S.; Groß, M.; Krohn, W. (Eds.)
Experimentelle Gesellschaft: Das Experiment als wissensgesellschaftliches Dispositiv. Baden-Baden: Nomos - edition sigma 2017, DOI: 10.5771/9783845285450-7 
(Gesellschaft - Technik - Umwelt, Neue Folge 19)