We live in societies where science and technology jointly contribute to constantly recomposing society, economics and the environment, where the production of knowledge is intimately linked to all kinds of power, and where innovation constitutes a universal good. IFRIS focuses on all these issues, on the ways in which knowledge, know-how and technology are deployed, have taken shape in society, culture and politics, are produced and passed on, and create worlds, as well as the modes of action and relationship with others, and the “nature” which they suggest.
As well as devoting itself to Science and Technology Studies, IFRIS mobilizes historians, anthropologists and sociologists, as well as researchers in management science and politics.
The diversity of the fields which IFRIS studies constitutes one of its essential assets: the worlds of science and technology, the social and economic regulation of activities and techno-scientific products, agriculture and food safety, public health and biomedicine, climatic change, environmental biodiversity and environmental health, and the lifestyles afforded by the internet and ICTs.
From a conceptual point of view, IFRIS approaches these matters from a different angle, based on the decisive changes that have taken place in the last decades in the social sciences. It zooms in on the blind spots and on what the social sciences have rendered invisible.
- Without forgetting the importance of the emergence of the new socio-technical arrangements, and without losing track either of the complexity of rearrangements, or the agency of institutions and persons, IFRIS seeks to articulate them to the asymmetries of power, to the autonomy of economic forms, to the rigidity of institutional forms, to technological and regulatory inertia, and to their ability to shape worlds. Studying how REACH operates thus requires not only the tracing of molecules, the understanding of the creation of ontologies, and the negotiation of danger thresholds, but also effective implementation and research on what has not been done. It requires an understanding of the role of expert’s ways of defining things, that of toxicology, as well as that of law and regulations. This, in turn, requires that the role of associations be identified, and that the key part played by firms be demonstrated.
- We do not wish to limit the scope of our work to situations in the global North, and like to approach issues from the viewpoint of the South as well. We are particularly interested in the power struggles over patents and generic and essential medicines, in the development of an “industrial” Ayurvedic pharmacopoeia, and in the epistemic and political tensions that exist between agroecology and agribusiness in Brazil.
- Without in any way underestimating the weight of the biggest countries, we also aim to understand how transnational and/or global forms operate, whether they are performed by WWF, Monsanto or the IPCC today, or the Jesuits or the East India companies a few centuries ago. We look at how they bring about new ontologies (e.g. “global climate”) or how they are coextensive to the “worldwide web”.
- Finally, we pay more attention to certain actors. We look at the economic players first, around “multi-player round tables” today, for the large agricultural productions of the South, or around the WTO and the way it mobilizes knowledge and sound science. We also look at established global players: the OECD, the World Bank and the Codex Alimentarius. Although civil society remains dynamic, examining the way public opinion on technology is “governed” or how ignorance is actively produced interests us to the highest degree.
IFRIS : a collaborative research institute on research, innovation and society
IFRIS, since 2007, is a consortium of research units in Ile-de-France (Paris and surrounding areas) working on issues related to the interactions between science, technology and society, as well as research and innovation policies.
Since 2011, thanks to a 9-year grant awarded by the International Programme for the Future ( Programme International d’Avenir) called LabEx SITES (Laboratory of Excellence – Science Innovation and Technology in Society), IFRIS can support doctoral and post-doctoral research grants, exploratory research projects, actions in favour of doctoral and student circulation (summer school, travel grants to students) and training actions that associate several of our teams.
IFRIS brings together around 150 researchers and academics and nearly sixty doctoral students affiliated to nine research groups:
IFRIS is concerned with renewing the research agenda by joining the STS field and work on research policies and innivation around issues such as : the rôle of history in our understanding , the links to power, the attention to peripheral sciences and non-hegemonic countries, the relations between quantitative and non-quantitative tools. The main lins of research have been devoted to renewing innovation policy studies and policies, the transformation of knowledge production regimes, the global governance of research and system Earth. IFRIS has also developed a free for all digital platform of textual analysis based on new analytical tools (Cortext).
The diversity of the fields which IFRIS studies constitutes one of its essential assets: the worlds of science and technology; the funding and regulation institutions of research; the social and economic regulation of techno-scientific activities and products; agriculture and food security; public health and biomedicine; the management of risks and contamination; the patenting of life and the management of the commons; the international circulation of medicines; climatic change, biodiversity and environmental health; lifestyles made possible by the internet and ICTs. These fields show the diversity of economic, political, global or local actors, represntative of civil society and public entities. IFRIS promotes also the dialogue between research and non-research actors, by promoting an alliance between science and society.