Science and technology have been contentious topics for Marxism. Since at least the early twentieth century the dominant approach has sought authority through positivist claims for objective scientific knowledge. It has also seen science and technology as progressive ‘forces of production’ which must be freed from capitalist social relations in order to build socialism. Such perspectives spanned the political divide between the Second and Third Internationals. Dissent came from other Marxists, whose critiques were further extended and deepened from the 1960s onwards. This chapter explores, first, how Marxist method relates to positivist science, whose claims for scientific objectivity imply or presume a knower separable from its object of study; and, second, how it understands the forces and relations of production, their interlinkages, historical changes and their potential forms beyond capitalism. To highlight relationships between science and technology, this chapter uses the term ‘technoscience’, which had a long history before becoming prominent in the academic field of Science and Technology Studies. In the superficial sense, technoscience can mean reliance on science for solving technical problems and, conversely, reliance on techniques to answer scientific questions. More profoundly, ‘technoscience’ identifies how problems are framed through a mutual shaping process. Scientific knowledge always depends on a technological-institutional infrastructure. Conversely, technology denotes an apparatus structuring human labour and extending its powers by drawing on specific cognitive perspectives. Given the divergent Marxist perspectives, no overview could be politically neutral. Ours emphasises alternatives to scientistic forms of Marxism. In general the epithet ‘scientism’ identifies agendas for extending the methods of biophysical science beyond their appropriate remit to socio-political issues. More fundamentally, the concept helps to identify tacit socio-political assumptions within science, contrary to its pretensions of objectivity. Along those lines, the first section introduces Marx’s critical method. Subsequent sections compare divergent Marxist approaches to technoscience in the twentieth century. The penultimate section surveys more recent perspectives and their various relationships with Marxist approaches. The conclusion identifies trans-historical overlaps and recapitulations, some of them perhaps unwitting. Given the limitations of space and the authors’ knowledge, the survey includes perspectives from just a few countries (the Soviet Union, the USA, the UK and Italy). An analogous survey is needed for the global South, especially in terms of foregrounding decolonial perspectives.

Technoscience

Pellizzoni Luigi;
2021

Abstract

Science and technology have been contentious topics for Marxism. Since at least the early twentieth century the dominant approach has sought authority through positivist claims for objective scientific knowledge. It has also seen science and technology as progressive ‘forces of production’ which must be freed from capitalist social relations in order to build socialism. Such perspectives spanned the political divide between the Second and Third Internationals. Dissent came from other Marxists, whose critiques were further extended and deepened from the 1960s onwards. This chapter explores, first, how Marxist method relates to positivist science, whose claims for scientific objectivity imply or presume a knower separable from its object of study; and, second, how it understands the forces and relations of production, their interlinkages, historical changes and their potential forms beyond capitalism. To highlight relationships between science and technology, this chapter uses the term ‘technoscience’, which had a long history before becoming prominent in the academic field of Science and Technology Studies. In the superficial sense, technoscience can mean reliance on science for solving technical problems and, conversely, reliance on techniques to answer scientific questions. More profoundly, ‘technoscience’ identifies how problems are framed through a mutual shaping process. Scientific knowledge always depends on a technological-institutional infrastructure. Conversely, technology denotes an apparatus structuring human labour and extending its powers by drawing on specific cognitive perspectives. Given the divergent Marxist perspectives, no overview could be politically neutral. Ours emphasises alternatives to scientistic forms of Marxism. In general the epithet ‘scientism’ identifies agendas for extending the methods of biophysical science beyond their appropriate remit to socio-political issues. More fundamentally, the concept helps to identify tacit socio-political assumptions within science, contrary to its pretensions of objectivity. Along those lines, the first section introduces Marx’s critical method. Subsequent sections compare divergent Marxist approaches to technoscience in the twentieth century. The penultimate section surveys more recent perspectives and their various relationships with Marxist approaches. The conclusion identifies trans-historical overlaps and recapitulations, some of them perhaps unwitting. Given the limitations of space and the authors’ knowledge, the survey includes perspectives from just a few countries (the Soviet Union, the USA, the UK and Italy). An analogous survey is needed for the global South, especially in terms of foregrounding decolonial perspectives.
2021
Settore SPS/10 - Sociologia dell'Ambiente e del Territorio
The Sage Handbook of Marxism
SAGE
Science and technology; scientific Marxism; divergent Marxist approaches in the XX Century; STS and Marxism
File in questo prodotto:
File Dimensione Formato  
LL&LP_Technoscience-Marxism_2021.pdf

Accesso chiuso

Tipologia: Accepted version (post-print)
Licenza: Non pubblico
Dimensione 395.75 kB
Formato Adobe PDF
395.75 kB Adobe PDF   Visualizza/Apri   Richiedi una copia

I documenti in IRIS sono protetti da copyright e tutti i diritti sono riservati, salvo diversa indicazione.

Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11384/128066
Citazioni
  • ???jsp.display-item.citation.pmc??? ND
  • Scopus ND
  • ???jsp.display-item.citation.isi??? ND
social impact