Hope, Hype and Lowering Expectations in the Life Science Industry

May 8 – May 10, 2023 

Pan­el at the 21th Annu­al STS Con­fer­ence Graz 2023 „Crit­i­cal Issues in Sci­ence, Tech­nol­o­gy and Soci­ety Studies“ 

Dead­line: 30.01.2023
More infor­ma­tion about abstract sub­mis­sion https://stsconf.tugraz.at/calls/call-for-abstracts/
Feel free to get in con­tact if you have any ques­tions (isabelbriz@link.cuhk.edu.hk)
Best wish­es, 
Isabel Briz Hernández 
G.1 Hope, Hype and Low­er­ing Expec­ta­tions in the Life Sci­ence Industry

Orga­niz­er: Isabel Briz Her­nan­dez, The Chi­nese Uni­ver­si­ty of Hong Kong, Hong Kong. 

Much has been said about hope and sci­ence. Since the emer­gence of biotech­nol­o­gy and its promis­es of a not-dis­tant-future in which the advances at the bench will quick­ly trav­el to the care at the bed­side, schol­ars in sci­ence stud­ies have warned about the hype around biotech and the deceiv­ing illu­sion that it cre­ates in patients at their most vul­ner­a­ble moment, at the edge of life (Good 2007; Rose and Novas 2005). It has been wide­ly por­trayed how hope is cap­i­tal­ized by biotech com­pa­nies and nation-states, turn­ing the expec­ta­tions of patients and their fam­i­lies into an eco­nom­ic prof­it (Novas 2006; Sun­der Rajan 2005, 2006, 2010; Wald­by 2000). Oth­ers have urged us to look at how the idea of poten­tial­i­ty has impreg­nat­ed life sci­ence and bio­med­i­cine in the last decades (Taus­sig, Hoey­er, and Helm­re­ich 2013). Yet, an emerg­ing schol­ar­ship is also point­ing to how this hype is “recal­i­brat­ed” on the ground (Gard­ner, Samuel, Williams 2015) and how high and low expec­ta­tions are inter­twined (Pick­ers­gill 2011, Fitzger­ald 2014, Swal­low et al. 2020, Day et al. 2021)

This pan­el draws on the “Soci­ol­o­gy of Low Expec­ta­tions” (Gard­ner, Samuel, Williams 2015) and invites papers that reflect on how doubt and uncer­tain­ty are present in promis­so­ry tech­nolo­gies in the life sci­ence indus­try such as gene and cell ther­a­py, stem cell, immunother­a­py or per­son­al­ized med­i­cine in gen­er­al. In addi­tion to the per­for­mance of the “promis­so­ry rhetorics” (Borup et al., 2006; Brown, 2015), this pan­el seeks to ana­lyze ethno­graph­ic moments in which hype is con­test­ed, and yet those prac­tices are con­sti­tu­tive of technoscience.