Panel 23

Unpacking the entanglements of governance with technoscience: is it an 'interesting' challenge in addressing good governance?

Organizers: Anwesha Chakraborty; Alice Fubini

University of Bologna, Italy

Topics: Knowledge co-creation, citizens science, co-design processes, material publics and grassroot innovation; Technoscientific promises, imaginaries and expectations; Governance of and by data infrastructures; Innovation imaginaries, practices and policies; Ethics, innovation and responsibility in technoscience

Keywords: good governance, sociotechnical imaginaries, responsible institutions, technological affordances, ethics and technology

The world is facing existential challenges of such a magnitude that conversations around them have become part of our everyday lives. Problems as wide-ranging and complex as long-drawn conflicts and the possibility of nuclear war, global climate change and related catastrophes, weakening democratic institutions and the rise of authoritarianism, and large-scale corruption leading to misallocation of resources which in turn exacerbates multidimensional poverty: all these issues already threaten the efforts of sustained peace and human well-being as attempted in the long 20th century. At the heart of all these problems lies the core issue of ensuring good governance, a desirable condition for the world(s) to come, based on fostering the following (but not limited to) elements: robust institutions, transparency and accountability, less corruption, and peace and justice in all sections of the society.

This panel aims to address the issue of good governance looking at the “interesting” role that technologies might play within the process. Some scholars frame this issue looking at the development of e-governance tools and the improvement of governance metrics, especially in countries of the global south (Haque and Pathrannarakul 2013; Juiz et al. 2014; Malik et al. 2014; Saidi and Yared 2003). Others consider the challenging role played by the introduction of artificial intelligence to governance processes (eg. Ulnicane et al., 2021).Technoscientific innovations to address present-day problems have been on the rise with governments, public and private institutions, civil society and the general public all treating such innovations as the panacea (Pfotenhauer et al. 2019; Pfotenhauer and Jasanoff 2017). However, we argue that technological innovations (re)present an “interesting challenge” in themselves that may (or may not) foster good governance and may even raise additional challenges related to unintended consequences resulting from use.

A major goal of this panel is to unpack various aspects of the entanglements of technoscience with governance, considering that the pursuit of better governance requires more than human solutions, but at the same time more human collaborations at different levels as technologies might foster alliances between a variety of human actors as a way to address the crucial problems of today and the near future.

In particular, these are some of the questions which the panel seeks to interrogate:

  • What kind of agency does technology lend to institutions, governments, organisations, civil society and members of the public to ensure better governance?
  • Are there intrinsic affordances of technology which can be designed by different groups of actors? Do certain affordances come to the fore only through use of technological tools?
  • What instances of technoscientific innovations do we find in the area of governance? Do we see instances of co-production of technologies by different actors (both top-down and bottom-up)?
  • What are the sociotechnical imaginaries of good governance at local, national and international levels of institutions, organisations and actors? Are they always within neoliberal frameworks?
  • Can technology lead to more ethical and responsible institutions? Are those technologies inherently ethical themselves?
  • (How) can technology manage controversies arising from unintended consequences of its use?