Reductionism and Short-Termism in EU Knowledge Policies: How Are We Conceiving EU Future?

Monday, 11 July 2016: 16:00
Location: Seminarsaal 10 (Juridicum)
Oral Presentation
Andrea CERRONI, University of Milan-Bicocca, Italy
Rita GIUFFREDI, Cern, Switzerland, University of Bologna, Italy
European Union declared in the 2000 Lisbon European Council the will to turn itself in “the most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy in the world”. The core idea of knowledge-society as a theory of contemporary society is that during the second half of the XXth century knowledge has come to the real centre of it. Due to its capacity to re-valuate the traditional economic factors (land, capital and work) it has progressively been taking the scene, relegating them on the backstage. We shall try to give an insight into how Europe is structuring knowledge policies, which have become increasingly relevant for the socio-economical functioning of developed countries: which are their shaping criteria? What are the declared aims of research and what are the structures and instruments of policy? Who is deciding over policies and how? Is there a particular, if not openly declared, sociological imagination underling such orientations? Knowledge production, access and use, indeed, have not only acquired importance as key economic factors, but also a matter of lively public dispute in Western countries about daily-life-relevant matters. The request underlying citizens’ protests is strongly related to legitimacy and breath of the scientific decision-making process. European Institutions especially are perceived as opaque and far from citizens’ concerns, and many inquiries have already been made on the public attitude towards techno-scientific decisions. Our research, conversely, will focus on the European policy-makers’ implicit theory, their policy-shaping guiding values and the actors they consider legitimate to participate in decision-making. We will then convey evidences from official publications to two main theoretical topics within contemporary sociological imagination: reductionism as epistemological tool and short-termism as scope of both societal challenges and social science. Along these two tracks runs the sociological imagination with which we are conceiving the future.