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LITTLE TOOLS Report Summary

Project ID: 637760
Funded under: H2020-EU.1.1.

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - LITTLE TOOLS (Enacting the Good Economy: Biocapitalization and the little tools of valuation)

Reporting period: 2015-09-01 to 2017-02-28

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

Across Europe, the transition to a new “bioeconomy” offers promises of a sustainable future. The life sciences are called upon to create new forms of value from biological life. The promise is not only that this economy will produce surplus value; it should also provide sustainable growth, employment, animal and human welfare along with the protection of nature – solutions to our current predicaments. In other words, the economy promises to be good. This, what we term the “good economy”, is what the Little Tools project aims to study: How and by what means do such transformations happen? What roles do science, markets, and politics play in these transformations, both historically and currently?

Given our societies’ urgent need to move away from fossil-based economies and into a sustainable, good economy, understanding the dynamics and ramifications of these ongoing transitions is of key importance. In studying these questions, the Little Tools project focuses on the sectors of fisheries and aquaculture and their part in what is often now called “the blue economy” and “the ocean economy”. By following the Atlantic cod, both harvested and farmed, we investigate past and present political processes, technological innovations, scientific advances, expanding markets, public controversies, and environmental conflicts. Across these sites, we analyze how the Atlantic cod is valued and made valuable in widely different, often contradictory ways.

The objectives of the project are twofold: The first main objective is to provide new empirical insights about how biocapitalization processes are enacted in practice and at carefully selected strategic sites, using cross-disciplinary methods from actor-network theory, history, and economic sociology. The second main objective is to provide an analytical and methodological framework that can respond to core challenges in contemporary science & technology studies (STS).

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

The work performed in the project’s first period has concerned data collection, analysis, publication, and building international research networks. The project is organized into four work packages, of which the first three reflects the main empirical sites the project will study: WP1 Science, WP2 Markets and WP3 Politics. In addition comes the cross-cutting WP4 Methods, which concerns interdisciplinary methodological development. The work has involved considerable data collection in all WPs; one co-edited book on the concept of biopolitics has been published in WP4; two negotiated book contracts with manuscripts in progress (one in WP3, one in WP4); three articles/chapters in review (one in WP3, two in WP4); and articles in progress on all four WPs. The project team has organized several international conference panels and international workshops and has given invited lectures to multiple relevant research communities in Europe, thus initiating and engaging extensively in building international research networks in Europe and the US.

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

The Little Tools project has already at this early stage taken advantage of the project’s ongoing research to intervene in current public debates, notably on the topics of the Norwegian government’s Ocean Strategy; the definitions of impact in science policy; and the role of science in climate policies. In all instances, the Little Tools team has published opinion letters in leading national newspapers, hence reaching a considerable number of policy makers, industry leaders, civil society, and the general public. While the potential impact and wider societal implications of these media contributions are challenging to measure in exact terms, the value of research-based interventions in urgent political matters should not be underestimated.
Record Number: 198681 / Last updated on: 2017-05-23
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