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Monitoring Ideas Regarding Research Organizations and Reasons in Science

Final Report Summary - MIRRORS (Monitoring Ideas Regarding Research Organizations and Reasons in Science)

The way we interpreted our mandate was to set ourselves two main tasks: 1) to show the kind of contribution that the history, sociology and philosophy of science (HPSS) can offer science policy making; 2) to formulate "recommendations" for science policy that exploit the kind of information achieved through HPSS. The research results and conclusions are therefore relevant for HPSS scholars (including students), policy makers, and civil society. We tried to achieve the first objective during the first year of research by pursuing two lines of action. Firstly, we designed a "multidisciplinary" methodology for HPSS that would enable it to constitute an effective tool for science policy. This approach allows for an independent contribution of the various descriptive methodologies employed within HPSS by postponing the methodological integration moment to the level of results. This has two advantages: (i) favouring the construction of a complete description of technoscientific decision processes; (ii) diminishing the employment of technical HPSS jargon and so enabling policy makers to employ HPSS narratives more easily. Secondly, we conducted a comparative study of science policies already in use both in single EU member states and in extra-EU countries through our multidisciplinary descriptive methodology in order to single out virtuous examples of policy strategies. We especially focused on funding and labour regulation strategy concerning technoscientific innovation, education, and democratization of technoscientific decision processes. We then analyzed the conditions of the transfer of positive instances in the context of the EU as a whole. In this respect we had argued for the dependence of the regulation of science institutions on macroeconomic settings and we were able to revise important science policy strategies, in order to formulate efficacious policy recommendations - our task for the second and final year of the research work. We especially focused on those policies resulting from the efforts made in the EU context to implement the Lisbon Strategy in the last ten years and we critically evaluated them following a simple pragmatic rule: the means are successful if the assumed end is fulfilled. In this respect, we identified an imbalance between the means and ends of science policy in the EU context. This imbalance is created by the need, pointed out by the Commission, to promote policy strategies that meet the needs and wants of both the private industry sector and general society. The means put forward so far seem to be heavily weighted towards the fulfilment of the interests of the private sector. In particular, the needs of the private industry sector and those of general society are artificially made harmonious by equating social well-being with economic well-being, as if the latter would be sufficient to achieve the former. This is not the case: environmental literature has shown the price that general society has paid because of a kind of industrial modernization that does not take societal and environmental costs into account. Nonetheless it is not a no-win situation; we do not have to choose whether to pursue competitive advantage and economic growth or promote the interests of general society and the environment. We have documented the efforts made by the EC to create a common macroeconomic platform based on the demands of sustainable development in our post-industrial age. A new vision is taking shape: a new industrial revolution, which seems to be able to harmonize between the instances of the private sector and those of general society. Sustainable development strategies are giving the economy new life blood and a new vision for democracy: they are fostering society-friendly technoscientific innovation, suggesting new solutions for civil engagement, redefining the labour market, and driving general entrepreneurship to the service of both the business community and civil society.