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Changing Social Relations between Science and Society: Contemporary Challenges

openaccessWorking paper par Venni V. Krishna, Changing Social Relations between Science and Society: Contemporary Challenges, FMSH-WP-2013-54, november 2013.

The author

Venni V. KRISHNA is Professor in Science Policy at the Jawaharlal Nehru University ( JNU), New Delhi, and Editor-in-Chief of Science, Technology and Society – An International Journal published by Sage Publications. He has a PhD in Sociology of Science from the University of Wollongong, Australia. With over 28 years of research and teaching experience he has published over 30 research papers and five books.

His publications include: Science, Technology and Diffusion of Knowledge: Innovation Systems in Asia-Pacific (Edward Elgar, UK 2007); Scientific Communities in the Developing Countries (Sage Publications, New Delhi 1997); Science and Technology in a Developing World (Kluwer Academic Press, The Netherlands).

He was a consultant to UNESCO, Paris, for the World Science Report 1998; UNESCO Science Report 2005 ; World Social Science Report – Knowledge Divides, 2010; and to the ILO in 2001. He was a Council Member of the Society for Social Studies of Science (4S), USA. Since 2005-06, he is the correspondent for European Union network programs (ERAWATCH and Trend Chart Analysis) on innovation policies and research policies for India. Dr. Krishna held several visiting positions at FMSH in 1994-96; National University of Singapore in 2008-10; University of New South Wales in 2009-12; and University of Western Sydney in 2004-05. Currently he is holding a Visiting Professorship at the Institute of Advanced Study, United Nations University, Yokohama, Japan.

The text

Charles and Monique Morazé Award Lecture, December 3, 2013. More information on the Charles and Monique Morazé Lecture.

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Social history of modern science, particularly the way it acquired social legitimacy clearly depicts the science and society relationships emerging from the time of Galileo. The social institution of science has evolved as one of the most powerful, highly influential and sought out institutions. Knowledge as public good; peer review of science; prominence attached to open publications; and premium placed on professional recognition and scientific autonomy remained the hall mark of science for the last three centuries. Based on this ethos of science, the social institution of science evolved a unique social contract between science and society in the last six decades. As we enter the second decade of 21st century, the social institution of science is undergoing a major change. Three societal forces are responsible for the change: a) globalization; b) industrial and post-industrial society; and c) climate change. What is at stake? Is there a significant change? Is it transforming the very social institution of science? And what implications this has for our contemporary and future society? These are some of the important issues, which will be addressed in this essay, which has inspired the lecture given during the awarding of the Charles and Monique Morazé Prize 2013 to the international journal Science, Technology and Society published by Sage India.


ethos of science, science, social institution of science, globalization, post-industrial society, climate change

L’évolution des relations sociales entre science et société : défis contemporains


L’histoire sociale de la science moderne, particulièrement la façon dont elle a acquis sa légitimité sociale, analyse les relations entre science et société telles qu’elles émergèrent depuis Galilée. L’institution sociale de la science est devenue au fil du temps l’une des plus puissantes, l’une des plus influentes et l’une des plus courtisées des institutions. La connaissance définie comme bien commun, l’évaluation par les pairs, la prééminence des publications ouvertes, comme celle de la reconnaissance professionnelle et de l’autonomie scientifique ont constitué depuis trois siècles les traits distinctifs de la science. Cette éthique de l’institution scientifique a fourni la base du contrat social qui s’est établi entre science et société depuis six décennies. Mais alors que nous entrons dans la deuxième décennie du XXIe siècle, l’institution sociale de la science est en pleine transformation. Trois dynamiques sociétales expliquent ce changement : la mondialisation ; l’industrialisation et la post-industrialisation ; le changement climatique. Quels en sont les enjeux ? Jusqu’à quel point cette évolution est-elle significative? Jusqu’où l’institution sociale de la science en est-elle elle-même affectée ? Quelles implications ce processus aura-t-il sur la société contemporaine, et sur celle de demain ? L’essai qui suit tente d’éclairer ces importantes questions. Ce texte a servi de base à la conférence prononcée à l’occasion de la remise du Prix Charles et Monique Morazé 2013 à la revue internationale Science, Technology and Society, publiée par Sage India.


éthique de la science, science, institution sociale de la science, mondialisation, société post-industrielle, changement climatique