Epistemologically, the idea of co-production has its basis in viewing science as a social activity and thus is the sociology of science.72 An example is a position statement by Callon, Law, and Rip in their book Mapping the Dynamics of Science and Technologys where they note that "there is no one real pattern of scientific development or of the structure of society ... waiting to be discovered. Rather there is a multitude of perspectives, each struggling to extend its scope and its influence."73 This is in contrast to a positivist tradition, where there is an assumption that any scientific representation of a phenomenon is the product of a real object.74
The constructivist stance creates a critical relationship to knowledge - if there is no objective truth to be revealed - no essence - there can be no ranking of knowledges as being more or less truthful. This has spurred controversies and extended debates about relativism in the so- called Science Wars of the 1990s.75 But as scholarship with a con-structivist approach evolved, it created analytical space to focus attention on the social structures and processes that create our pictures of reality and the actors that participating in the creation.
68 Elin Wihlborg, En lösning som söker problem. Hur och varför lokala IT-policyer utvecklas i lands-bygdskommuner. Diss. Tema Teknik och social förändring, Linköpings universitet, 2000, 16-18, based on a review of definitions of policy. My translation from Swedish.
69 Jasanoff and Wynne, "Science and Decision Making," 6.
70 See e.g. ICSU and UNESCO, Science, Traditional Knowledge and Sustainable Development International Council for Science, 2002).
71 Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Knowledge.
72 Mats Börjesson, Diskurser och konstruktioner. En sorts metodbok (Lund: Studentlitteratur, 2003), 45.
73 Michel Callon, John Law, and Arie Rip, "Putting Texts in Their Place," in Mapping the Dynamics of Science and Technology, eds. Michel Callon, John Law, and Arie Rip, 221-230 (London: MacMillan Press, 1986), 227.
74 Börjesson, Diskurser och konstruktioner, 21.
75 Sarah Franklin, "Science As Culture, Cultures As Science," Annu. Rev. Anthropol. 24, (1995): 163; Keith Parsons, ed. The Science Wars: Debating Scientific Knowledge and Technology (Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, 2003); Alan D. Sokal, Intellectual Impostures: Postmodern Philosophers' Abuse of Science/Alan Sokal and Jean Bricmont (London: Profile, 2007).
Social constructivism does not necessarily assume that there is no physical reality, but nature's role is seen as less deterministic in controlling the production of scientific knowledge, and the analytical focus is shifted towards the social processes that create our understanding.76 A constructivist approach that explicitly takes material matters into account is summarized by the notion of co-construction. Harding, for example, argues that the old duality of realism versus constructivism has become obsolete. Instead she proposes that "[w]e can retain the best of both realism and constructionism understandings of the relations between our social worlds, our representations, and the realities our representations are intended to represent by thinking of co-evolving, or co-constructing, cultures and their knowledge projects."77 A similar theme runs through much of the writing of Haraway, who writes about how nature is made not entirely by humans; it is a co-construction among humans and non-humans.78 Other writers who have explored this intertwined relationship between nature and culture are Lefebvre in his discussion of the production of space and Steiner with his human ecological triangle that describes the recursive interdependence between the person, the society, and the environment.79 One way to summarize the role of nature in relation to the social construction of reality is to see nature as a product of a culture that rests on existing physical circumstances and that the physical realities impose limits or create resistances in relation to how human actors or social structures may want to frame an issue.80
Latour has traced the historical developments that caused the separation of nature and culture in the first place. Or as he phrases it: a situation where social sciences and humanities have become devoted to the study of "humans among themselves" and the natural sciences to "things among themselves."81 He uses Shapin and Schaffer's study of the natural philosopher Robert Boyle and the political philosopher of Thomas Hobbes, who by their respective work in the 17th century created a demarcation between scientific and political power. Latour calls this demarcation "The Modern Constitution," which can be seen as the ultimate boundary work to separate science and policy.82 In spite of the "work of purification" according to the Modern Constitution, there has been a proliferation of events and phenomena that can neither be described as entirely cultural nor as entirely natural. His main example is the ozone hole but the logic would be very similar for climate change. Based on this proliferation of hybrids, he argues that it is time to retie the Gordian knot of nature, politics, and discourse and to start studying what modernity (including academia) has tried to separate.
76 Jasanoff and Wynne, "Science and Decision Making," 17-20.
77 Sandra Harding, Is Science Multicultural? Postcolonialism, Feminism, and Epistemologies (Bloom-ington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1998), 20.
78 Donna J. Haraway, "The Promises of Monster: a Regenerative Politics for Inappropriate/d Others," in Cultural Studies, eds. Lawrence Grossberg, Cary Nelson, and Paula A.Treichler, 295-337 (New York, London: Routledge, 1992), 313.
79 Henri Lefebvre, The Production of Space (Oxford: Blackwell, 1991); Dieter Steiner, "Human Ecology As Transdisciplinary Science, and Science As Part of Human Ecology," in Human Ecology. Fragments of Antifragmentory World Views, eds. Dieter Steiner and Markus Nauser, 47-76 (London and New York: Routledge, 1993), 56.
80 Björn-Ola Linnér, "Produktionen av ett nytt landskap," in Naturen som brytpunkt, ed. Johan Hedrén, (Stockholm: Brutus Östling Bokförlag, 2002), 288.
81 Latour, We Have Never Been Modern, 5.
82 Latour, We Have Never Been Modern, 13.
Latour's methodological approach is to study the networks that connect the spheres that the Modern Constitution has separated. A key concept Latour developed together with Callon is actor-networks, where the actors (or actants) are both human and non-human entities. The actor world is built via translations, in which each entity receives an identity and role to play. With the term translation, they try to capture all "the negotiations, intrigues, calculations, acts of persuasion and violence, thanks to which an actor or force takes, or causes to be conferred on itself, authority to speak on behalf of another actor or force."83 The role of a particular actor or actant is thus neither pre-given nor an external reality. The actor world is structured as a network. An actor-network then makes it possible to describe the dynamics and internal structure of the actor-world.84 When first conceived, the idea of actor-networks was a way of bypassing the structure-agency contradiction by concentrating on the movement or summing up of the local encounters because of a wish to learn about the actors' own motives for their actions. It was to be a systematic recording of the world-building activities, a kind of bottom-up approach.85 A key point was also that the actor focus was not one of looking at intentions of actors but how their interactions with other actors provided them with actoriality. As Latour points out, there is nothing especially human in such interactions, which makes it possible to also look at non-humans as actors. He discusses interobjectivity as a way of phrasing the new position of the actors.86
I find the actor concept in actor-network theory useful because it opens up for analysis the relationships between physical phenomena and the social world. In a study of Arctic climate change, an actor-network perspective could, for example, imply investigating how increases in temperature or melting sea ice are translated by different actors in a network and thus how certain aspects of nature are used to strengthen the power of some actors. One could see it as scientists, within a certain scientific discipline, taking on the authority to translate and give these aspects of nature a role, or likewise other actors using the authority of science, who in turn rely on the authority of nature, to strengthen their position in a specific issue area. I argue that it also suggests analyzing how some actor networks become stabilized by governance arrangements and thereby have a greater potential to influence policy while other actor networks remain less connected to international environmental governance. I will not apply a "pure" actor network approach in this dissertation as it would require studies of how the networks are constructed in practices, starting at the micro-level of science. I will, however, borrow the broad view of actors from actor-network theory when I use the term actor as a counterpoint to the focus on structure in regime thinking.
What are the implications of these various co-constructivist approaches to the study of international relations? First, they make it clear that studies of the interface between
83 Michel Callon and Bruno Latour, "Unscrewing the Big Leviathan," in Advances in Social Theory and Methodology, eds. Karin D. Knorr-Cetina and Aaron Victor Cicourel, 277-303 (Boston: Routledge, 1981), 279.
84 Michel Callon, "The Sociology of an Actor-Network: The Case of the Electric Vehicle," in Mapping the Dynamics of Science and Technology, eds. Michel Callon, John Law, and Arie Rip, 19-34 (London: MacMillan Press, 1986).
85 Bruno Latour, "On Recalling ANT," in Actor Network Theory and After, eds. John Law and John Hassard, 15-25 (Oxford: Blackwell, 1999).
86 Latour, "On Recalling ANT," 18.
knowledge production and political order are essential if we want to understand the role of science in international politics. This is especially true where scientific issues take center stage, such as in global environmental change. Moreover, the science side of this nexus should not be black-boxed. Rather, its dynamics should become part of the analysis of power. More specifically, actor-network thinking provides an analytical tool for studying the role of scientists and their equipment in relation to actors who we usually conceive of as part of the political sphere. Questions for the study of the ACIA include what technologies have been important in translating changes in nature into images of climate change, and what political structures have supported the developments of these technologies. And vice versa: What aspects of nature have not been as extensively translated and why? How would translations or lack thereof relate to the power positions of various political actors?
The notion that knowledge and political order are co-produced also has an intellectual base in discourse analysis and its more explicit focus on the role of power, including the normative and cultural elements in quests for power.87 It thus also goes back to Foucault's thinking about the rules that determine why some statements become accepted as true, or what can be legitimately articulated in certain historic times, and "how one or another object could take the place as possible objects of knowledge."88 This part of the intellectual base of the co-production ideom makes it more useful from an international relations perspective in general and a regime perspective in particular than actor-network theory on its own. Not only does it highlight a historical shift from sovereign power to a more discursive or disciplinary form of power typical of modernity.89 Co-production also focuses attention on the processes by which scientific knowledge is synthesized, framed, and how the creation of authoritative narratives can play a key role for the policy impact of scientific knowledge.90
Was this article helpful?