Technology Roadmaps, Innovation Journeys, and Nanoworld: A Spatio-temporal Consolidation of the EC Nanotechnology Policy

Open access

Abstract

Technology roadmaps have become an essential part of the European Commission’s (EC) nanotechnology policy strategies. They represent socio-technical landscapes and evolving pathways, suggesting the underlying or otherwise supportive metaphorical patterns and narrative structures. For the same reason, however, roadmaps are problematic assemblages: they can simplify and distort reality, and filter things that don’t fit. The presented study combines cognitive linguistics with narratology to scrutinise the European Commission’s nanotechnology roadmapping as a discursive formation. It targets the systematic metaphors in approximately two-hundred news and reports on nanotechnology, compiled ad hoc from the CORDIS database (between the years 1999–2015). It is argued that the identified metaphors correspond to a discourse topology of ‘locations’, ‘events’, and their structures, especially as regards to the dilemma of ‘path dependence’, overcoming ‘knowledge gaps’, and reaching ‘nanoworld’. These are accompanied by a narrative climax of developing mature science policy model, in the arrangement of actions and roles for the European governments, science (nanotechnology), policy, and the public. The study demonstrates how systematic metaphors engage all the actors in the narrative of ‘innovation journey’ to form stabilised structures of meaning, that is, spatio-temporal consolidation of nanotechnology policy. It is imperative to continuously assess the context of such consolidation, being less overt but not necessarily less effective, in privileging some meanings, interests, and practices over the others, thereby excluding other political alternatives.

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