Sociotechnical Fictions: an analytical tool and re-enchantment instrument for technopolitical transition
Technological and scientific change happens between the discursive and the infraestructural; the imaginary and the material; the normative and the disruptive; and between the past, the present and the future. The liminal spaces between these dualistic categories has been researched, within Science and Technology Studies, through the concepts and fields of sociotechnical imaginaries; sociology of expectations, anticipation and futures, among others. This research aims to explore the concept of Sociotechnical Fiction, defined (so far) as an epistemic object and relational phenomenon that operates within and around the contours of science and technology. These fictions are embedded in rational and instrumental knowledge and mobilised by communities of practice like start-ups, states, social movements, think tanks, scholars and other more or less organised sectors of the citizenry. The object of study of this research proposal is framed in Engineering Fiction, a personal research project aiming to observe the role of fiction in the power struggle that happens between the sociotechnical emergence and its stabilisation. This thesis project thus focuses on how fiction is operationalized in different areas: AI Winter; contemporary cryptofinancial imaginaries; technological humanism within the R&D agenda of the Spanish government; and Venture Capital Industry in the USA. Analyzing these different phenomena through the lens of sociotechnical fictions, this research aims to (1) better understand how hype and uncertainty are managed in the context of financialised capitalism; and to (2) explore possible uses of sociotechnical fictions to lubricate transitions towards more livable and social arrangements. In methodological terms, this investigation will combine traditional social sciences techniques like critical discourse analysis and ethnography with a more experimental approach through speculative research, inventive methods and artistic research. By doing this, this research wants to develop the yet-speculative discipline of Science, Technology and Fiction(al) Studies. Director: Antonio Calleja-López, Co-director: Alex Wilkie, Advisor: Laura Forlano.