Hayden – what happens when Science Studies dual ‘notion’ of knowledge is put into ‘practice’

Take an old axiom of science studies: “knowledge represents both nature and the political and social interests of the people and institutions that are wrapped therein” e.g. what we know -knowledge- is what we know about something, and what we know about something is part of how we know about it, because what we know can only be known through how we know it. How we know something is reliant on all the who’s and what’s in our vicinity and the who’s and what’s in their vicinity etc… in an ever expanding network of ‘interests’.

In the above axiom scientists are viewed as “orientated towards -by interest- the accumulation of credibility and reputation rather than capital… Homo economicus”. e.g. The above model fails to look at people’s actual ‘interests’ themselves, but assumes them to be based on a rational economic model.

Cori Hayden instead takes:

Yanagisako’s search to “understand how certain values or actions come to be seen as ‘in the interest’ of [certain people] in the first place” and “proposes that we look at the productive capacities of sentiment”, and

Woolgar’s point that “an unexamined notion of interest, impressively pedigreed though it may be in political-economic thought, is a far from transparent guide to understanding why scientists do what they do, and thus how facts get assembled as such…. the construction and use of ‘interest’ its attribution and anticipation, demands treatment as a phenomenon in its own right.”

e.g. the above axiom might tell us something about how certain scientific facts come to dominate, but not why they are what they are. The above axiom might tell us how scientists actually work but not how their ‘interests’ work.

Hayden’s concern with above axiom and “the notion of interests and representations does not lie… in explain[ing] the construction of facts…. but the ways in which … this dual notion ..(claims ‘to’ and ‘about’ biological material and knowledge)… now lie explicitly at the heart of contemporary social imaginaries and practices of participation and marginalization”… ‘inclusion and exclusion….of people… to knowledge and nature.. in bioprospecting’

e.g. understand how people negotiate themselves and others from being included or excluded in access to a resource, through emphasis on ‘their’ knowledge construction of a biological resource as constituting the resources value to themselves and other people.. One result of this in bioprospecting might be the logic that if you actualise something in the world – e.g. the human use-value of a plant- then you deserve a royalty. Which begs a question about Time.

Source: When Nature goes public, pg20-23

Here’s a little tangental distraction to brighten up this post: