Journal Article

Converging institutions. Shaping relationships between nanotechnologies, economy and society

Bulletin for Science, Technology & Society, 27(6): 455-466

Nanotechnologies are technologies applied to a molecular level, which can be embedded in materials including human cells and atoms of mineral, chemical, or physical substrates. Nanotechnologies have been used in attempts to foster interactions between a multitude of products, production processes, and social actors. Just like bio, info, and cognitive science, nanotechnologies belong to the socalled converging technologies, which are expected to change main societal paths toward a more functional and coarser mesh. However, research, development, and diffusion of converging technologies depends on the adaptability of existing economic structures and on the social acceptance of products and services augmented by nanotechnologies. Because of these characteristics, externalities and the risk of systemic divergences caused by potentially noncontrollable or unwanted interactions between sectors, actors, and environments may arise and disturb the efficiency of the innovation process. Converging institutions, however, aim to manage these market imperfections and social risks in the long run.


Christian Papilloud