Some decades ago several STS scholars defended that science and technology could be considered as ‘politics by other means’. Many years have gone through, and STS researchers are increasingly turning their attention towards proposals and experiences where science and technology are increasingly performed ‘by other means’: in a variety of exploratory activities that include the articulation of collectives that do not fit with the traditional actors in science and technology, or in ways that problematize the established value systems involved in the production of knowledge and technologies –e.g. fostering the creation of open science, DIY design and commons-based p2p projects, citizen science and maker communities, feminist and environmentalist technoscience projects, and many other platforms seeking to create alternatives to public/private technoscientific arrangements-.
Emerging science and technology practices show how public and private actors are being re-assembled along routes that do not follow once established divides: science and technology are increasingly produced by private not-for-profit actors, such as CSOs, patient organizations and new citizens’ collectives, whilst traditional public institutions once entrusted with the mission of ‘producing’ science and technology for the common good, like universities and research centers, are being transformed into for-profit organizations subjected to productivity bonus, austerity measures and new public management accounting principles. These emerging and consolidating phenomena destabilise and re-signify existing public and private spaces, whilst generating new ones. In turn, new technoscientific communities and unexpected political mobilizations are ongoingly opening up, incessantly engendering other contested options, as well as forging routes to explore more democratic and hospitable futures in the times of care, housing, food, financial and environmental crisis.
The joint 2016 4S/EASST conference in Barcelona will be an opportunity to share reflections, ideas, findings and projects on a variety of aspects characterizing these alternative ways to do science and technology: (a) such as the fact that, for instance, all of these transformations usually take place in blurred everyday spaces and not in those enclosed established spaces for science and technology development, such as laboratories or industrial R&D departments; (b) or, in a similar way, the fact that research and innovation processes are increasingly organised in networked, horizontal assemblages where the traditional hierarchies in science are put into question and where science and technology are being co-produced by different actors in different, sometimes antagonistic, ways; (c) and, finally, the fact that traditional boundaries between the public and the private are no longer confined to state and for-profit actors, care practices taking a preeminent presence in most of these everyday situations.