Synopses & Reviews
One of the most influential philosophers in the English-speaking world, Charles Taylor is internationally renowned for his contributions to political and moral theory, particularly to debates about identity formation, multiculturalism, secularism, and modernity. In Modern Social Imaginaries,
Taylor continues his recent reflections on the theme of multiple modernities. To account for the differences among modernities, Taylor sets out his idea of the social imaginary, a broad understanding of the way a given people imagine their collective social life.
Retelling the history of Western modernity, Taylor traces the development of a distinct social imaginary. Animated by the idea of a moral order based on the mutual benefit of equal participants, the Western social imaginary is characterized by three key cultural forms—the economy, the public sphere, and self-governance. Taylor’s account of these cultural formations provides a fresh perspective on how to read the specifics of Western modernity: how we came to imagine society primarily as an economy for exchanging goods and services to promote mutual prosperity, how we began to imagine the public sphere as a metaphorical place for deliberation and discussion among strangers on issues of mutual concern, and how we invented the idea of a self-governing people capable of secular “founding” acts without recourse to transcendent principles. Accessible in length and style, Modern Social Imaginaries offers a clear and concise framework for understanding the structure of modern life in the West and the different forms modernity has taken around the world.
“Charles Taylor presents a fundamental challenge to neoliberal apologists for the new world order—but not only to them. Anyone who wishes, as I do, to defend transcultural political ideals, notions of development, or the like, will have to face his formidable array of hermeneutically inspired reflections on Western modernity’s defining cultural formations. His particular take on the ‘social imaginary’ makes the strongest case there is for the idea of ‘multiple modernities.’”—Thomas McCarthy, Northwestern University
andquot;The essays in Dreamscapes of Modernity address the ways in which individuals, states, universities, and various corporate bodies conceptualize scientific and technological matters while translating this knowledge into visions for productive social, political, and technical change. Jasanoff and Kim offer a lucid and subtle analysis of the role of science and technology in producing norms, knowledges, and visions that cement relations of power. What is at stake in this very fine volume is a fundamental understanding of how social systems change or endure, cohere or fall apart.andquot;
andquot;A valuable humanistic collection connecting the social history of science and the anthropology of science and technology with Jasanoffand#39;s signature contributions bridging science and technology studies, power, and the construction of social legitimacy.andquot;
An accounting of the varying forms of social imaginary that have underpinned the rise of Western modernity.
Dreamscapes of Modernity
introduces and develops the concept of sociotechnical imaginaries
, demonstrating how it helps explain the divergent ways in which states and societies conceptualize futures achievable through and supportive of advances in science and technology. The bookand#8217;s case studiesand#151;which range over health security, Apartheid, rice biotechnology, Indonesian activism, and moreand#151;illustrate how different imaginations of social life and order are created in concert with imaginations of the goals, priorities, benefits, and risks of science and technologyand#151;at scales ranging from national to global. The concept of sociotechnical imaginaries adds to the theoretical repertoire of the social sciences, and in so doing extends work dealing with collective beliefs about social order that until now has not been adequately attentive to the central role of science and technology in shaping human possibilities. Through their varied disciplinary training and their willingness to join a common conversation, the contributors to this volume reveal the conceptand#8217;s reach from science and technology studies to neighboring fields such as anthropology, history, history of science and technology, law, sociology, and public policy.
Dreamscapes of Modernity offers the first book-length treatment of sociotechnical imaginaries, a concept originated by Sheila Jasanoff and developed in close collaboration with Sang-Hyun Kim to describe how visions of scientific and technological progress carry with them implicit ideas about public purposes, collective futures, and the common good. The book presents a mix of case studiesandmdash;including nuclear power in Austria, Chinese rice biotechnology, Korean stem cell research, the Indonesian Internet, US bioethics, global health, and moreandmdash;to illustrate how the concept of sociotechnical imaginaries can lead to more sophisticated understandings of the national and transnational politics of science and technology. A theoretical introduction sets the stage for the contributorsandrsquo; wide-ranging analyses, and a conclusion gathers and synthesizes their collective findings. The book marks a major theoretical advance for a concept that has been rapidly taken up across the social sciences and promises to become central to scholarship in science and technology studies.
About the Author
Charles Taylor is Board of Trustees Professor of Law and Philosophy at Northwestern University, Professor Emeritus of Political Science and Philosophy at McGill University, and former Chichele Professor of Social and Political Theory at Oxford University. He is the author of many books and articles, including Varieties of Religion Today: William James Revisited; Sources of the Self: The Making of the Modern Identity; The Ethics of Authenticity; Hegel; and the essay “The Politics of Recognition,” which appeared in Multiculturalism (edited by Amy Gutmann).
Table of Contents
1.and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160; Future Imperfect: Science, Technology, and the Imaginations of Modernity
2.and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160; Cecil Rhodes and the Making of a Sociotechnical Imaginary for South Africa
William K. Storey
3.and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160; Our Monsters, Ourselves: Reimagining the Problem of Knowledge in Cold War America
Michael A. Dennis
4.and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160; Imagining a Modern Rwanda: Sociotechnical Imaginaries, Information Technology, and the Postgenocide State
5.and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160; Keeping Technologies Out: Sociotechnical Imaginaries and the Formation of Austriaandrsquo;s Technopolitical Identity
6.and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160; Remembering the Future: Science, Law and the Legacy of Asilomar
J. Benjamin Hurlbut
7.and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160; Social Movements and Contested Sociotechnical Imaginaries in South Korea
8.and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160; Building from the Outside In: Sociotechnical Imaginaries and Civil Society in New Order Indonesia
9.and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160; Guerilla Engineers: The Internet and the Politics of Freedom in Indonesia
10.and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160; Consuming Biotechnology: Genetically Modified Rice in China
Nancy N. Chen
11.and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160; Imaginaries of Science and Society: Framing Nanotechnology Governance in Germany and the United States
Regula Valandeacute;rie Burri
12.and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160; Corporate Imaginaries of Biotechnology and Global Governance: Syngenta, Golden Rice, and Corporate Social Responsibility
13.and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160; Globalizing Security: Science and the Transformation of Contemporary Political Imagination
Clark A. Miller
14.and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160; Global Health Security and the Pathogenic Imaginary
15.and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160; Imagined and Invented Worlds