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Socio-technical Futures Shaping the Present : Empirical Examples and Analytical Challenges in Social Studies of Science and Technology and Technology Assessment


Socio-technical futures like visions or scenarios, that is the more or less systematic imagination of the interplay of future technologies with future society, have played an important role in Science and Technology Studies (STS) und Technology Assessment (TA) for decades. For a long time, the debates on and the analysis of these socio-technical futures have focused on the plausibility and legitimacy of these futures as anticipations, both on the technical and on the societal side. Only recently, the focus has shifted to investigating how socio-technical images of the future influence the present, that is, how they contribute to present processes of policymaking, societal debate and technology development, equally. The exploration of ways to conceptualize the shaping of the present by socio‚Äźtechnical futures is the aim of this volume. Therefore it brings together contributions from STS and TA, which focus all on the question how socio-technical images of the future shape present processes of innovation and transformation starting from empirical case studies and generalizing specific findings or by tackling conceptual questions from the outset. A white paper of 23 authors, which aims to sensitize researchers and practitioners of the TA community for the topic and challenges caused by the shaping impacts of socio-technical futures completes the volume.