Stokes begins with an analysis of the goals of understanding and use in scientific research. He recasts the widely accepted view of the tension between understanding and use, citing as a model case the fundamental yet use-inspired studies by which Louis Pasteur laid the foundations of microbiology a century ago. Pasteur worked in the era of the "second industrial revolution," when the relationship between basic science and technological change assumed its modern form. Over subsequent decades, technology has been increasingly science-based. But science has been increasingly technology-based--with the choice of problems and the conduct of research often inspired by societal needs. An example is the work of the quantum-effects physicists who are probing the phenomena revealed by the miniaturization of semiconductors from the time of the transistor's discovery after World War II.
On this revised, interactive view of science and technology, Stokes builds a convincing case that by recognizing the importance of use-inspired basic research we can frame a new compact between science and government. His conclusions have major implications for both the scientific and policy communities and will be of great interest to those in the broader public who are troubled by the current role of basic science in American democracy.
Donald E. Stokes was professor of politics and public affairs in the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University.
Identifying features of the new mode of knowledge production - reflexivity, transdisciplinarity, heterogeneity - the authors show how these features connect with the changing role of knowledge in social relations. While the knowledge produced by research and development in science and technology is accorded central concern, the authors also outline the changing dimensions of social scientific and humanities knowledge and the relations between the production of knowledge and its dissemination through education.
Daniel Sarewitz scrutinizes the fundamental myths that have guided the formulation of science policy for half a century—myths that serve the professional and political interests of the scientific community, but often fail to advance the interests of society as a whole. His analysis ultimately demonstrates that stronger linkages between progress in science and progress in society will require research agendas that emerge not from the intellectual momentum of science, but from the needs and goals of society.