Right time, wrong scale?

By Emma Frow (inspired by Joly 2015)


It was the research funders and the scientists who called us in. Offering money. Promising access. Occasionally hinting at the possibility of power and the ability to effect change.

Like a rip tide, we got pulled in. Meeting after meeting, workshops, conferences, opportunities to teach and to learn and to promote reflection and discussion.

But in so doing, our attention got subsumed by the micropolitics of the field. Fascinating disagreements across disciplines, rivalries across labs, late-night beer-fuelled gossip and debates.

All the while, the neoliberal march advanced at a steady pace. Roadmaps, policies, pressures to commercialize. Promises of transformation through synthetic biology, the growth of a sustainable bioeconomy, the revitalization of industrial manufacturing.

So now what? Reflexive scientists caught in an ever-tighter bind between well-meaning hopes of RRI and the systemic forces working against this?

Right time, wrong scale?