“Futures” on socio-technical futures

The current issue of “Futures” focuses on the question of how socio-technical futures have a bearing on real innovation processes and their governance. The editors of the focus are staff members of ITAS and STePS, respectively.
Cover „Futures“

The May 2019 issue of the journal Futures focuses on empirical studies on the relationship between socio-technical futures and the governance of innovation processes. The Special Section is based on an open call for papers. Out of 50 submissions, twelve were included in the Special Section after an in-depth peer review.

The contributions deal with socio-technical futures related to new and emerging technologies such as synthetic biology and nanotechnology as well as central societal transformation processes related to ageing, medical care, energy system transformation, agriculture, digitization processes in industry, or measures to counter terrorism. Socio-technical futures are analyzed and reflected as core elements of innovation processes and their governance. Particularly relevant in this field of study are approaches such as “vision assessment”, the sociology of expectations, and “socio-technical imaginaries” as introduced by Sheila Jasanoff.

The contributions examine how socio-technical futures form, change, and unfold over time, shaped by different practices in different contexts. In addition, they examine how different socio-technical futures circulate among political actors and others involved in the governance of innovations, how they influence the control of innovation processes, technical systems, and technologies, and how forms of deliberative and reflexive shaping of the future can be increasingly integrated into political and socio-technical innovation processes.

The two editors of this issue, Knud Böhle (ITAS/KIT) and Kornelia Konrad (STePS/University of Twente), represent a joint research interest of ITAS and STePS (Department of Science, Technology and Policy Studies at the Faculty of Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences) in the field of futures, innovation processes, and TA. On the ITAS side, this includes in particular the basic research on vision assessment led by Andreas Lösch at ITAS (see the project “Visions as socio-epistemic practices”) and Armin Grunwald’s work on the hermeneutic extension of TA. On the part of StePS, the work of Kornelia Konrad on the sociology of expectations, of Stefan Kuhlmann on innovation research, and of Arie Rip on TA is relevant here.

The journal Futures is available in printed and electronic form. The articles of the Special Section are available online via the Futures website.

The detailed introduction by Kornelia Konrad and Knud Böhle “Socio-technical futures and the governance of innovation processes – An introduction to the special issue” is freely available. It presents the relevant research approaches and the state of the art, and explains the twelve contributions in context: open access PDF

Overview of Contributions


Contact to the editors: