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See detailA situated expert judgment: QSAR models and transparency in the European regulation of chemicals
Thoreau, François; Laurent, Brice

in Science & Technology Studies (in press)

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See detailCritique as a practice: inquiring into "virtual fence" and the politics of embeddedness (submitted 2019)
Thoreau, François

in Social Studies of Science (2020)

See detailIntrodution aux humanités médicales
Lefève, Céline; Thoreau, François; Zimmer, Alexis

Book published by DOIN John Libbey Eurotext (2019)

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See detailL’embarquement par son objet : trois politiques de l’enquête sur les clôtures virtuelles (virtual fence)
Thoreau, François

in Revue d'Anthropologie des Connaissances (2019)

See detailLe calcul de la vache optimale: pratiques génomiques dans un centre de recherche biomédicale
Thoreau, François

in Lagneaux, Séverine (Ed.) Humanimachine: (re)configurer les interactions? (2019)

See detailPratiques de l'enquête
Pieron, Julien; Thoreau, François

Book published by Presses Universitaires de Liège (2019)

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See detailAnticiper les changements technologiques pour ne plus les subir
Delvenne, Pierre; Charlier, Nathan; Chefneux, Luc; Claisse, Frédéric; Contor, Justine; Duysens, Fanny; Erpicum, Martin; Fallon, Catherine; Fanouillere, Jean-Baptiste; Glesner, Colin; Lobet-Maris, Claire; Macq, Hadrien; Parotte, Céline; Petit Jean, Maxime; Piron, Damien; Poullet, Yves; Rentier, Bernard; Reuchamps, Min; Rivière, Mylène; Rosskamp, Benedikt; Thoreau, François; Valenduc, Gérard; Van Oudheusden, Michiel

Article for general public (2018)

Carte blanche pour l'instauration en Wallonie d'un "Institut d'évaluation des technologies" : allons-nous encore nous contenter de subir les développements technologiques ou allons-nous choisir de les débattre, les questionner et participer de manière concertée à orienter leur trajectoire ?

See detailL’utopie faite chair: à propos de la sélection résiliente des bovins
Thoreau, François

in Rafanell i Orra, Josep (Ed.) Itinérances (2018)

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See detailL'appel des entités fragiles. Enquêter avec les Modes d'existence de Bruno Latour
Thoreau, François; d'Hoop, Ariane

Book published by Presses de l'Université de Liège (2018)

Mener l'enquête, voilà bien le défi toujours renouvelé des sciences sociales. Surtout lorsqu'elles ont affaire à des personnes de terrain qui mènent sans cesse leurs propres enquêtes pratiques, qu'il s'agisse de projets d'architectes, de dispositifs de surveillance, de vignobles, de lieux de soin, d'œuvres d'art ou encore de luttes sociales. Ce livre investigue une telle variété de situations, dans le prolongement de la proposition formulée par Bruno Latour dans son Enquête sur les modes d'existence. Les différentes contributions ont pour point commun de prêter attention à une série d'entités peu visibles et dont l'existence est fragile, mais qui n'en contribuent pas moins à caractériser les situations décrites. Préfacé par Antoine Hennion, sociologue des médiations, ce livre est issu d'un travail véritablement collectif mené par des chercheuses.eurs en sciences sociales, artistes et architectes.

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See detailThe case for animal genomics and the prospects for modeling bovines in a bio economy
Thoreau, François

Conference (2017, August)

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See detailCompte - rendu d'enquête: sciences sociales et humanités médicales
Zimmer, Alexis; Thoreau, François

Conference (2017, June 24)

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See detailGoverning anticipation through flexibility: the use of models for the regulation of chemicals
Thoreau, François; Laurent, Brice

Scientific conference (2017, June 19)

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See detailQSAR models and the flexible regulation of chemicals
Thoreau, François

Scientific conference (2017, March 14)

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See detailLe calcul de la vache optimale: pratiques génomiques dans un centre de recherche biomédicale
Thoreau, François

Conference (2017, March 06)

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See detailNanotechnologies and REACH
Thoreau, François

Learning material (2017)

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See detailDu bon usage des faits en régime de " post­-vérité"
Thoreau, François; Zimmer, Alexis

Article for general public (2017)

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See detailDancing without listening to the music: learning from some failures of the ‘national innovation systems’ in Latin America
Delvenne, Pierre; Thoreau, François

in Kuhlmann, Stefan; Ordóñez-Matamoros, Gonzalo (Eds.) Research Handbook on Innovation Governance for Emerging Economies (2017)

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See detailDrawing technical contrasts to address prenatal testing
Thoreau, François

Conference (2016, December 07)

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See detailRejouer les partitions disciplinaires : l’interdisciplinarité comme épreuve dans le cas de la génomique
Fallon, Catherine; Thoreau, François

in Benninghoff, Martin; Crespy, Cecile; Charlier, Jean Emile; Leresche, Jean Philippe (Eds.) Le gouvernement des disciplines académiques Acteurs, dynamiques, instruments, échelles (2016)

Les chercheurs en sciences politiques et sociales, voire les philosophes politiques, sont de plus en plus souvent « embarqués » dans des projets résolument transdisciplinaires, portés par les groupes de recherche de différentes disciplines, engagés dans les développement scientifico-technologiques les plus pointus (que ce soit dans le secteur des nanotechnologies ou des biotechnologies médicale, voire de la gestion de la sécurité nucléaire, pour citer trois exemples récents) Le point de départ de cette proposition est l’observation du décloisonnement majeur opéré entre les disciplines de médecine et de sciences au cours des dix dernières années; y compris l'invitation des chercheurs en philosophie et en sciences politiques dans les departements de génétique humaine. Le texte analyse les enseignements de l’embarquement ab initio d’un groupe de chercheurs en science politique et philosophie dans le cadre du développement de thérapies géniques et de diagnostics prénatals. Ce projet GIGS (Gouvernementalité, génomique & santé) résulte en grande partie des réflexions d’un groupe de généticiens du centre hospitalo-universitaire qui observe avec étonnement des pratiques innovantes outre Atlantique, où l’embarquement des sciences humaines au cœur même des projets de sciences naturelles et médicales est une réalité. Si les apports potentiels de cette démarche sur le développement des sciences naturelles sont bien documentés dans la littérature STS (Van Oudheusden & Laurent 2013 ; Meyers et al 2014 ), la plupart de ces travaux traitent moins des effets de ces embarquements sur le développement de la discipline source, par exemple la science politique. Quelles sont les conditions de développement disciplinaire propre, pour les politologues et les autres chercheurs, dans un environnement aussi intégré que le GIGA où vétérinaires, médecins, ingénieurs et bientôt politologues et philosophes se côtoient, transformant les patients et leurs ADN autant que leurs propres outils disciplinaires tout en conservant un ancrage disciplinaire spécifique fort pour garantir la cohérence de leurs questionnements et l’acuité de leurs méthodes d’investigation face à un terrain partagé (Thoreau & Despret 2014).

See detailWhat can a diagnosis do? The case of the "genetization" of autism
Thoreau, François; Duysens, Fanny

Conference (2016, November 25)

The loose condition of "autism" is undergoing through a broad process of (re)definition under the aegis of genomic medicine, which promises to find (epi)genetic causes to autism, or at least to some forms of the Autism Spectrum Disorder. What is at stake is a scientific controversy about the very definition of the condition, i.e. the diagnosis itself. Whether it is considered primarily as a psychopathology or as a genetic disorder has consequences. It has implications regarding who would have the authority to diagnose the condition but also about the ways of taking care of persons with autism. In this paper, we depart from the paradox that some patients' organizations claim for a "geneticization" of the condition, so as to get rid of any sort of "psy-" related dimensions. It seems paradoxical because if the causes of autism are to be found in the genes, and hereby partly determined, it would seem to imply that the margins for effective therapy are narrowing down. We want to test the hypothesis that the more objective, "naturalized" a diagnosis is, the more it opens up possibilities for broadening the therapeutic reach outside the autist bodies, questioning the "milieu" of the disorder — the environment through which it is produced and the wealth of linkages and relationships through which living with autism could be eased. In other words, stressing that the diagnosis is a site to explore these contested dimensions of autism, its "geneticization" could lead to more active uptakes in patients care, whereas blurry diagnosis could not afford a similar reach. Following a pragmatic stance of an "art of consequences" (I. Stengers), we investigate the tensions raised by a genetic diagnosis which tends to "objectify" or "naturalize" the causes of the condition with respect to the lived experiences of persones with autism and their relatives, following some of the contested dimensions of a "politics of diagnosis" in their effects on affected autistic bodies and minds. To unfold those issues, our ongoing inquiry considers the interactions between various persons and institutions involved in the debate in Belgium.

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See detailWhat do these cattle do in a biomedical research center?
Thoreau, François

Conference (2016, September)

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See detailThe politics of “grayboxing”: The use of QSAR models for the flexible regulation of chemicals
Thoreau, François; Laurent, Brice

Conference (2016, May 12)

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See detailReset Inquiry!
Thoreau, François; d'Hoop, Ariane; Amat, Amandine; Grosman, Jérémy; Laki, Giulietta; Lefebvre, Pauline; Maury, Elsa

in Latour, Bruno (Ed.) Reset Modernity (2016)

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See detail‘A mechanistic interpretation, if possible’: How does predictive modelling causality affect the regulation of chemicals?
Thoreau, François

in Big Data and Society (2016), July-December(1), 1-11

The regulation of chemicals is undergoing drastic changes with the use of computational models to predict environmental toxicity. This particular issue has not attracted much attention, despite its major impacts on the regulation of chemicals. This raises the problem of causality at the crossroads between data and regulatory sciences, particularly in the case models known as quantitative structure–activity relationship models. This paper shows that models establish correlations and not scientific facts, and it engages anew the way regulators deal with uncertainties. It does so by exploring the tension and problems raised by the possibility of causal explanation afforded by quantitative structure–activity relationship models. It argues that the specificity of predictive modelling promotes rethinking of the regulation of chemicals.

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See detailVouloir vivre malgré le terrorisme
Thoreau, François

Article for general public (2015)

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See detailGoverning anticipation through flexibility. The use of models for the regulation of chemicals
Thoreau, François; Laurent, Brice

Conference (2015, November 18)

As the use of models is increasing within regulatory bodies, it is important to grasp both the empirical practices of producing and using them, and their political meaning. At stake here is the possibility of identifying the characteristics of a way of governing anticipations that would be based on models. In this paper, we engage in such an exploration by focusing on models developed to predict the potential risks of chemicals. These models, called “Quantitative Structure-Activities Relationship” (QSAR), are based on statistical correlations between a set of descriptors (e.g. chemical composition, crystalline structures…) and a set of physicochemical properties, including potential toxicity. They are developed using a limited number of substances that serve as reference points, so that the properties of other chemicals could later be predicted by the model, according to their proximities to the reference points. QSAR models have been promoted by regulatory agencies for over twenty years, but have been recently gaining momentum in Europe, in the wake of the REACH regulation. As the regulation on chemicals is becoming more constraining on private companies, usual experimental approaches raise many concerns (which are lengthy, costly and often requires animal testing). Based on the analysis of the relevant documentation, interviews with scientists and regulators, as well as the ethnographic observation of a recent research project attempting to developed QSAR models for nanomaterials, this paper provides the preliminary elements for describing the mode of governing anticipation that emerges from the use of such models. We contend that QSAR approaches offer empirical examples to identify a mode of governing anticipation based on flexibility, understood at the epistemic and political levels.

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See detailThe pragmatics of correlation or how models reshape the government of technical objects
Thoreau, François; Laurent, Brice

Conference (2015, November)

In this paper we focus on how models carry out correlations and how correlations are used as techniques of government. Correlations are fragile exercises which put together two phenomenon, e.g. one nanoparticle and one toxic effect, without linking them with a straight causality. We examine correlations in the situated case of QSAR (quantitative structure-activity relationship) models applied to the toxicity of nanoparticles. Using scientific and regulatory documentation related to QSAR, and the preliminary results of an empirical study of a QSAR project conducted in France, we analyze the initial expectations, i.e. providing knowledge on nanoparticles useful for regulatory purposes, and how this ambition was confronted to the refusal of nanoparticles to feed the QSAR models in a satisfying way. We argue that this led to "thinking on the edge" the wonders and worries of correlation. This calls for a pragmatics of correlation: what does it do? Which are the effects and consequences of a "co-relating" approach? Exploring these questions leads us to examine the type of knowledge produced through models applied to large sets of data, and how it contributes to certain types of regulatory objectivity, particularly in the European legal context. Thus, we discuss the ways in which a pragmatics of correlation offers analytical entry points for the study of the contemporary transformation of the public administration of technical objects.  

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See detailLes exigences de la « terrestrialité »: une épreuve pour l’enquête
Thoreau, François

Conference (2015, October 27)

See detailPremières notes pour l'ethnographie d'un projet européen en situation embarquée
Thoreau, François

Conference (2015, September 08)

See detailLa preuve par le mashup: D. J. Haraway et les deux cultures de la modernisation réflexive
Thoreau, François

Conference (2015, June 08)

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See detailComment les disciplines se reconstruisent dans des environnements hybrides et dynamiques
Fallon, Catherine; Thoreau, François

Scientific conference (2015, February 06)

Les chercheurs en sciences politiques et sociales, voire les philosophes politiques, sont de plus en plus souvent « embarqués » dans des projets résolument transdisciplinaires, portés par les groupes de recherche de différentes disciplines, engagés dans les développement scientifico-technologiques les plus pointus, que ce soit dans le secteur des nanotechnologies ou des biotechnologies médicales (pour citer deux exemples récents,Thoreau 2013) . Cet article prend comme point de départ un projet pluriannuel qui a obtenu des subsides pour plonger pendant une longue période trois chercheurs (philosophe, anthropologue, politologue) dans un centre de recherche en génomique humaine appliquée, installé dans une aile du Centre-Hospitalo-Universitaire. En tant que coordinateurs de ce projet, nous voulons aborder ab initio (1) la question des conditions d’exercice de notre démarche de terrain et (2) les conditions de notre service en tant que politologues au fil de cette trajectoire.

See detailUn problème de constitution – faire exister des catégories réglementaires pour les objets techniques
Laurent, Brice; Thoreau, François

Conference (2014, December 05)

See detailIntroducing the Belgian Science and Technology Studies Network (BSTS)
Meyers, Gert; Van Oudheusden, Michiel; Thoreau, François; Van Hoyweghen, Ine

Poster (2014, September)

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See detailLes datacenters, métaphore du capitalisme
Thoreau, François

Article for general public (2014)

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See detailLa réflexivité : de la vertu épistémologique aux versions mises en rapports, en passant par les incidents diplomatiques
Thoreau, François; Despret, Vinciane

in Revue d'Anthropologie des Connaissances (2014), 8(2), 391-424

Dans cet article, nous proposons la mise en œuvre d’un dispositif d’enquête que nous qualifions de « diplomatique ». L’objet de cette enquête est la question de la réflexivité des scientifiques. Tout au long de l’article, nous explorons avec les scientifiques que nous avons rencontrés différents modes sur lesquels peut se décliner cette « réflexivité ». Toutefois, chacun de ces modes nous invite à considérer plusieurs manières de partager ce problème et de le construire avec eux. Chemin faisant, il n’y a donc pas que la question de la réflexivité qui bifurque, mais également le sens même de l’approche diplomatique pour laquelle nous avons opté. C’est à cette exploration conjointe des significations de la réflexivité des scientifiques et des modalités de la diplomatie que nous convions le lecteur.

See detailWhere is the Conflict? Delving in Walloon Science, Technology and Innovation Politics
Charlier, Nathan; Thoreau, François

Conference (2013, October)

Building on preliminary empirical observations, this paper seeks to analyze a specific feature of science, technology and innovation (STI) policies in Wallonia (Belgium); that is, the apparent lack of contestation regarding policy making. Over the last decade, multiple programs and plans were implemented by the regional government. These reforms of STI policy are endorsed by multiple stakeholders, including parliamentary opposition, labor unions and employers’ organizations. Seemingly, Walloon STI policies do not configure as conflict zones. This is remarkable since these programs and plans reconfigure the relationship between science, technological innovation and the market. In other policy fields, opposition is more pronounced and protracted. In other places/times, STI policy is/has been a conflicting matter. This is all the more striking in a context of strategic science advent, where STI is placed at the heart of large regional policy project, building strong ties with economic development and regional identity shaping. Can STS provide the tools and vocabulary to analyze non-conflictual, « cold » situations such as current STI policies and their evolution in Wallonia? Building on semi-structured interviews with key informants, our analysis will pay attention to Walloon contextual specificities as well as macro-level considerations: can dominant, taken-for-granted master narratives such as “knowledge-based economy”, “Regional innovation systems”, or, more recently, “open and responsible innovation” account for the relative smoothness of STI policies? We conclude that there is a felt need for empirical insights to analyze how these master narratives are locally enacted.

See detailScience et magie
Pieron, Julien; Thoreau, François

Conference given outside the academic context (2013)

See detailÀ propos du "trouble à l'ordre public": Dewey selon Stengers
Thoreau, François

Conference (2013, June 21)

See detailÀ propos des "sciences camérales" chez Stengers
Thoreau, François

Conference (2013, April 16)

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See detailEmbarquement immédiat pour les nanotechnologies responsables. Comment poser et re-poser la question de la réflexivité?
Thoreau, François

Doctoral thesis (2013)

See detailAddressing the failure of National Innovation Systems in Latin America
Delvenne, Pierre; Thoreau, François

Conference (2013, April 12)

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See detailLa lasagne pur-sang et la société low-cost
Ozer, Pierre; Piet, Grégory; Thoreau, François

Article for general public (2013)

Pour satisfaire des consommateurs en quête de toujours plus de pouvoir d’achat, la Commission européenne soutient des gros producteurs low-cost pour une nourriture low-cost (avec des contrôles limités). Stop! Et vive l’agriculture locale.

See detailMoving away from OECD Countries: New Directions for Studies of National Innovation Systems in Latin America
Delvenne, Pierre; Thoreau, François

Conference (2012, October 18)

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See detailLes Jourdain de la réflexivité : Du bon usage des incidents diplomatiques
Thoreau, François; Despret, Vinciane

E-print/Working paper (2012)

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See detailPierre-Henri Gouyon, Miguel Bensayag, Fabriquer le vivant ? Ce que nous apprennent les sciences de la vie sur les défis de notre époque
Thoreau, François

in Lectures (2012)

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See detailCultiver d’autres expertises sur les sciences et les technologies
Thoreau, François

in Revue Nouvelle (2012), 10

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See detailL’État et la gestion de la grippe A(H1N1)
Rossignol, Nicolas; Thoreau, François

in Revue Nouvelle (2012), 10

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See detailLittle by Little. Expansions of Nanoscience and Emerging Technologies
van Lente, Harro; Coenen, Christopher; Fleischer, Torsten; Konrad, Kornelia; Krabbenborg, Lotte; Milburn, Colin; Thoreau, François; Zülsdforf, Torben

Book published by IOS Press (2012)

Little by little, nanotechnology has emerged amid enormous anticipations and fantastic promises of new materials, aspiring to manipulate our world “atom by atom.” While these grand visions continue to capture the imaginations of various audiences—and continue to be contested, as well—nanotechnology has developed into more than that. During the last two decades, many research programs and industrial R&D expenditures have resulted in actual products and tangible innovations. Nanotechnology, it seems, is expanding. But what does it mean to say that nanotechnology is expanding?

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See detailExpansions of Nanotechnology
van Lente, Harro; Coenen, Christopher; Fleischer, Torsten; Konrad, Kornelia; Krabbenborg, Lotte; Milburn, Colin; Thoreau, François; Zülsdorf, Torben

in van Lente, Harro; Coenen, Christopher; Fleischer, Torsten; Konrad, Kornelia; Krabbenborg, Lotte; Milburn, Colin; Thoreau, François (Eds.) Little by Little: Expansions of Nanoscience and Emerging Technologies (2012)

Little by little, nanotechnology has emerged amid enormous anticipations and fantastic promises of new materials, aspiring to manipulate our world “atom by atom.” While these grand visions continue to capture the imaginations of various audiences—and continue to be contested, as well—nanotechnology has developed into more than that. During the last two decades, many research programs and industrial R&D expenditures have resulted in actual products and tangible innovations. Nanotechnology, it seems, is expanding. But what does it mean to say that nanotechnology is expanding?

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See detailElements for a diplomatic approach of ‘responsible innovation’ in nanotechnologies
Thoreau, François

Conference (2012, July 03)

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See detailCharles Wright Mills, L'élite au pouvoir, Agone, coll. « L'ordre des choses », 2012
Thoreau, François

in Lectures (2012)

See detailBeyond the 'Charmed Circle' of OECD: New Directions for Studies of National Innovation Systems
Delvenne, Pierre; Thoreau, François

Conference (2012, May 24)

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See detailUniversités: réapprendre la lenteur
Thoreau, François

Article for general public (2012)

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See detailAction publique et responsabilité gouvernementale : la gestion de la grippe A(H1N1) en 2009
Thoreau, François; Cheneviere, Cédric; Rossignol, Nicolas

in Courrier Hebdomadaire du CRISP (2012), 2138-2139

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See detailNanotechnologies. Qu'est devenu le principe de précaution?
Thoreau, François; Feltz, Bernard

Article for general public (2012)

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See detailHave STS Fallen Into a Political Void? Depoliticisation and Engagement in the Case of Nanotechnologies
Thoreau, François; Delvenne, Pierre

in Política e Sociedade (2012), 11(20), 205-226

In this paper we trace some of the key points in the history of Science and Technology Studies (STS). In particular we outline the inherently political dynamics of the field. Against We underline two emerging patterns in the curse of STS: the one of “depoliticisation” and the one of increasing “engagement”. We address the case study nanotechnologies and discuss their intertwined history with the STS. This allows us to point at the risk that the increasing institutionalisation of STS and the political mandate that frames and stabilizes the field’s relationship to the technological developments would create a political void. We conclude that STS research is at a crossroads. It is facing an important empirical turn, which may deprive it from its political significance, and constantly redefine its institutional constraints. STS has to continuously question its underlying political assumptions (as it occurs more and more regarding public participation) and to make it explicit.

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See detailJean Gadrey, Adieu à la croissance. Bien vivre dans un monde solidaire
Thoreau, François

in Lectures (2012)

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See detailThe birth of the Belgian Network for Science, Technology and Society (BSTS Network)
Delvenne, Pierre; Thoreau, François

in EASST Review (2012), 31(1), 9-12

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See detailDu bon usage des catastrophes, de Régis Debray
Thoreau, François

in Revue Nouvelle (2012), 66(2), 74-77

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See detailNanotechnologies, et alors?
Thoreau, François

Conference given outside the academic context (2012)

See detailOn being enrolled as an "embedded humanist" with nanotechnologists
Thoreau, François

Conference (2012, January 13)

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See detailÉtienne Klein, "Le Small Bang des nanotechnologies"
Thoreau, François

in Esprit (2012), 381

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See detailMobilité: la saga du tram à Liège
Thoreau, François

Article for general public (2012)

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See detailNanotechnologies et « innovation responsable »: sur la gouvernementalité d’un concept
Thoreau, François

in Kermisch, Céline; Pinsart, Marie-Geneviève (Eds.) Les nanotechnologies : vers un changement d’échelle éthique ? (2012)

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See detailBeyond the ‘‘Charmed Circle’’ of OECD: New Directions for Studies of National Innovation Systems
Delvenne, Pierre; Thoreau, François

in Minerva: A Review of Science, Learning and Policy (2012), 50(2), 205-219

See detailFragments de notre condition numérique
Thoreau, François

Conference (2011, November 30)

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See detailFrédéric Gaillard, Pièces et main d'oeuvre, L’industrie de la contrainte, Montreuil, L'échappée, 2011
Thoreau, François

in Lectures (2011)

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See detailProspects for performing «responsible innovation» in research institutions
Thoreau, François

Conference (2011, November 09)

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See detailYet Another Story of Networks! Prospects for Performing "Responsible Innovation"
Thoreau, François

Conference (2011, November 05)

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See detailLa normalisation des nanotechnologies
Thoreau, François

in Revue de la Faculté de Droit de l'Université de Liège (2011), (3-4), 427-444

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See detailVisualiser à l'échelle du nanomètre
Thoreau, François

in Revue Nouvelle (2011), 66(11), 54-65

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See detailFacebook, Twitter et la jeunesse arabe
Thoreau, François

Article for general public (2011)

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See detailIntroduction: les nanotechnologies, au-delà des fantasmes
Feltz, Bernard; Thoreau, François

in Revue Nouvelle (2011), 66(11), 23-27

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See detailJocelyne Porcher, Vivre avec les animaux. Une utopie pour le XXIe siècle, La Découverte, coll. « textes à l'appui », 2011
Thoreau, François

in Lectures (2011)

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See detailPourquoi les "nanotechnologies" sont-elles importantes?
Thoreau, François

Conference (2011, September 22)

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See detail"One to rule them all"? The standardisation of nanotechnologies
Thoreau, François

in European Journal of Risk Regulation (2011), 3

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See detailLa régulation des nanotechnologies. Clair-obscur normatif, by Stéphanie Lacour. Brussels: Larcier, 2010, 179 pp., 55 €, Paperback
Thoreau, François

in European Journal of Risk Regulation (2011), (3),

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See detailPandémie A(H1N1) et gestion des risques : la responsabilité grippée ?
Chenevière, Cédric; Thoreau, François

in Vergès, Etienne (Ed.) Droit, sciences et techniques: quelles responsabilités? (2011)

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See detailArno Münster, Principe responsabilité ou principe espérance ?, Le Bord de l'eau, coll. « Les voies du politique », 2010
Thoreau, François

in Lectures (2011)

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See detailRecension: S. Lacour (dir.), La régulation des nanotechnologies. Clair-obscur normatif, coll. Droit des technologies, Bruxelles, Larcier, 2010, 288 pp.
Thoreau, François

in Cahier du Juriste (2011), 2

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See detailResponsible innovation and nanotechnologies
Thoreau, François

Conference (2011, April 04)

Dès le départ, le développement des nanotechnologies a été fortement soutenu par les pouvoirs publics et marqué par une vision particulière du futur de nos sociétés occidentales. C'est notamment pour cette raison que les sciences humaines et sociales (SHS) ont été conviées à participer à la réflexion autour des nanotechnologies, dans le cadre plus général (et concomitant) de l'innovation responsable. Que ce soit aux États-Unis ou en Europe, cette évolution s'est traduite par des tentatives de mobiliser les savoirs produits en SHS, et des les rendre "opérationnels" directement au coeur des processus d'innovation, de recherche et développement. Cette démarche d'"intégration", selon la dénomination consacrée, entend briser les barrières disciplinaires. Nous abordons l'un de ces programmes de recherche spécifique, auquel nous avons collaboré, et en tirons les conclusions provisoires ainsi que quelques conséquences.

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See detailLe fantasme Facebook : n’est pas révolutionnaire qui veut !
Thoreau, François

Article for general public (2011)

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See detailEmbedding ‘‘Science and Society’’ within Nanotechnologies’ Development
Thoreau, François

Conference (2011, March 18)

These slides introduce nanotechnology as a voluntarist public policy. It addresses the societal dimensions of such policies, that is its social, ethical and legal aspects. It then focuses on one particular research project which aims at integrating such concerns into practices of research and development. Then, it raises issues, questions and ambiguities as for the role of social scientists in such a process.

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See detailComment Facebook a changé le Monde? Le rôle des réseaux sociaux dans les révolutions arabes
Thoreau, François

Conference given outside the academic context (2011)

La conférence propose une analyse raisonnée du rôle précis des réseaux sociaux dans les premières révolutions arabes, particulièrement en Tunisie et en Egypte. Elle conclut à une approche critique du discours médiatique sur la question, qui propose une vision à la fois linéaire et totalement surévaluée de l'importance de ces technologies dans la genèse du mouvement social.

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See detailLaurent (Brice), Les politiques des nanotechnologies. Pour un traitement démocratique d’une science émergente
Thoreau, François

in Politix: Revue des Sciences Sociales du Politique (2011), 2011/4(96), 187-190

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See detailOn Reflections and Reflexivity: Unpacking Research Dispositifs
Thoreau, François

in Zülsdorf, Torben; Coenen, Christopher; Ferrari, Arianna; Fiedeler, Ulrich; Milburn, Colin; Wienroth, Matthias (Eds.) Quantum Engagements: Social Reflections of Nanoscience and Emerging Technologies (2011)

Abstract. Science and Technology Studies (STS) scholars increasingly engage with science and technology (S&T) practitioners, scientists, engineers, and the like. The actual dynamics of these engagements differ from one project, framework or school to the next. However, to be reflexive, such engagements need at some point to deal with the ambiguous relationship between ‘engager’ and ‘engaged’. In an attempt to disambiguate these interactive ties, this chapter takes inspiration from Vinciane Despret, a philosopher of science who has provided ethnographic studies of ethologists. It specifically draws on two of Despret’s arguments about experiments on animals, more precisely rats, and the paradoxical relationships to which they give rise. By means of analogy, it then illustrates the similar ways in which we, as STS scholars, might happen to frame our interactions with S&T practitioners. It argues that any experimental research dispositif necessarily implies a specific relationship dynamic with whoever is engaged. This should not be considered as an obstacle, but instead an opportunity for learning—yet only if the dispositif is open to protest. The analysis here took shape during an engagement study conducted at a large-scale R&D center in Flanders, Belgium. It is informed by ongoing involvement in a broader research project (STIR) that aims at fostering reflexivity among S&T practitioners.

See detailLe financement public des cultes et de la laïcité en Belgique. Quelles évolutions pour le pluralisme philosophique?
Thoreau, François

Book published by Éditions Universitaires Européennes (2010)

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See detail"Taming the publication machine", or Discourse Analysis made Subliminal
Thoreau, François

Conference (2010, November 15)

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See detailOn Reflections and Reflexiveness: Positioning the Self, Enframing the Other?
Thoreau, François

Conference (2010, October 01)

STS scholars are increasingly engaged with science and technology practitioners, scientists, engineers and the like. The actual dynamics of these engagements differ from one project, framework or school to the next. However, to be reflexive, such engagements exercises need to deal at some point with the ambiguous ethical relationships between engager and engaged. In an attempt to disambiguate some of these interactive ties, we begin by considering the respective agendas of involved participants. To do so, we draw upon Despret’s perspectives about experiments on animals and the paradoxical relationships they give rise to. We identify the implied injunctions among STS scholars not only to "be reflexive" but also to reflect back onto practitioners their own worldviews. We then consider some of the ethical tensions, ambiguities and paradoxes between and emerging out of reflexive engagements of the self and of the other. Particularly, we explore to what extent reflexive engagements constitute ends in themselves or means to other ends. We ground this analysis in empirical evidence from an engagement study conducted in a large-scale R&D center in Flanders, Belgium.

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See detailOpening the black box : agencies as socio-technical networks
Fallon, Catherine; Thoreau, François; Joris, Geoffrey

Conference (2010, September 09)

Agencies have historically developed in Belgium, endorsing public activities not only at the federal level, but also at the level of decentralised governments (regions and communities). The current landscape in the Southern part of the county is more and more taking the form of a mosaic with very little efforts in terms of cooperation : this is particularly true when the agencies addressing similar target groups in a given sector are responding to different levels of governments with very little interaction, the coordination being organised by the users' themselves, according to their own strategies. At the same time, some agencies are taking more of a centre stage position : they not only provide services and support to their target group, they also fruitfully contribute to their status and identity building. Using a cultural approach may help study the "art of the state" in its diversity (Hood, 1998). We propose to concentrate the analysis on the emergence of two Agencies whose mission is to support professionals working in the public sector. Based on a recent field work on the transformation of the sector of public research, we will analyse how the FNRS (an agency funding public research) succeeded to survive as an independent agency through since 1928 (Halleux & Xhayet, 2008), adapting to the transforming socio-political context: it emerged as an industry based project and transformed into a "mertonian" institution of knowledge contributing to unify the scientific community at the level of the country, while bypassing the historical divisions of the three worlds of universities in the country (Fallon, 2009). A diachronic analysis helps underline how socially constructed is such an institution, and how the configuration of networks are continuously reshaping themselves to better be embedded in a specific historic society (Laborier, 2003). The FNRS is currently struggling to define new forms of cooperation with the universities (and their researchers) which are themselves embarked in the current stream of transformations introducing techniques derived from New Public Management in research organisations (de Boer, Enders, Schimank, 2007). In quite a different sector, another field work using the same methodological approach analysed the emergence of a very recent agency, EASI-WAL, serving the regional administration in order to encourage administrative simplicity (OCDE, 2003, 2005) and reported the shortcomings of this organisation in organising avenues for professional change with the civil servants (Thoreau, Fallon, Joris,2009). The two field work research were organised as case study analysis, with document analysis, face to face interviews and in situ observation, using research tools derived from the sociology of science (Actor-Network Theory in Callon,1986). The paper will present the outcomes of the analysis of the dynamics of the cooperation between the agency and its target groups (FNRS & researchers; EASI-WAL & civil servants) and their outcomes in terms of innovation and organisational learning. We observe the implementation of two institutions both designed to support the emergence of some common goal within their target collectives (elitist -research; administrative simplicity): they autonomously gave shape to their internal procedures of categorisation and hierarchisation, with identification processes contributing to the definition of institutional boundaries defining a specific field while ensuring its inscription in the network through a specific legitimating strategy (Douglas, 1986). This analysis will unveil some of the mechanisms of cooperation of the different stakeholders supporting the institution, and also the struggle between stakeholders for the definition of settings of participation and administrative and political control.

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See detailThe ‘interpretive flexibility’ of nanotechnologies in context: the case of a leading R&D center in Flanders, Belgium
Thoreau, François

Master of advanced studies dissertation (2010)

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See detailTaming the “Publication Machine”: Generating Unity, Engaging the Trading Zones
Thoreau, François; Neicu, Maria

in Spontaneous Generations: A Journal for the History and Philosophy of Science (2010), 4(1), 163-172

In this paper, we explore the par ticular issue of a biomedical research team engaging itself in different “trading zones” (Galison 1997). We do so by following the specific process of setting up a new microscope. We star t by briefly introducing our general understanding of the concept of “trading zone.” Then we focus on the empirical material we collected, star ting from the microscope as the researchers we followed were setting it up. Our analysis is twofold: we first describe the acts we have been witnessing, then contrast them with the surrounding discourses and provide them with a rationale. We argue that the team created a sense of unity among its individual members and how this unity, though precarious, was needed and desired in order to fur ther engage in a trading zone.

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See detailModulations of the laboratory: articulations between individual and institutional dynamics in a Flemish R&D center, Belgium
Thoreau, François

Conference (2010, August 28)

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See detailConfronter l'incertain: les nanotechnologies et les "Science and Technology Studies"
Thoreau, François

in Piet, Grégory; Wintgens, Sophie (Eds.) La science politique dans tous ses états (2010, January)

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See detailLes nanotechnologies, entre l'espoir et les craintes
Thoreau, François

Article for general public (2009)

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See detailIntegrated Research and Protected Spaces: a New Role for STS?
Thoreau, François

Poster (2009, September 10)

See detailLes stratégies wallonnes en matière de simplification administrative
Thoreau, François

Conference (2009, May 15)

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See detailAre bio and nano likely to be compared? If so, what are the consequences on public participation?
Thoreau, François

Conference (2009, March 29)

Like modern biotechnologies, nanotechnologies are a generic area of research linked with several interconnected disciplinary fields. They may be converted into a large panel of applications. It also brings, with its development, promises of a quite huge potential including important economic opportunities. Both of those emergent technologies also raise important social, ethical or environmental issues. Nevertheless, many substantive differences remain between biotechnologies and nanotechnologies. The former was introduced in society by a time public actors were less sensitive to public participation, as shows the history of parliamentary Technology Assessment. A lack of public participation is often told to have grounded some public opposition to some particular biotechnologies, with the usually quoted case of GMOs. The latter are currently under development in quite other circumstances, as social shaping of technology begins to be widely acknowledged and role played by STS community grows faster. Nanotechnologies deal with more uncertainties and more complexity. So it is commonly accepted that, within their development process, they should include more public participation to avoid some pitfalls of biotechnologies. Still, other differences that context exist between biotechnologies and nanotechnologies. It may be stressed that biotechnologies have left laboratories for a private financial designing of marketable products and that nanotechnologies are just starting to leave laboratories under great public impulsions, with wide public support and funding, as in the case of the National Nanotechnology Initiative in the US. So in the presentation we consider whether, given those differences, biotechnologies and nanotechnologies are likely to be compared. Then we pick a look to potential consequences related to public participation. Should there be more public participation? What for? Should it be driven in a different way?

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See detailEmerging Patterns of Depoliticization and Engagement to Inform the Future of Science and Technology Studies: A Case Study in Nanotechnologies
Thoreau, François

Conference (2009)

In this paper, we address the issue of the future of a particular field of research in social science: Science and Technology Studies (STS). Although this is a very young research field, its history is already diverse and its evolutions are fastly moving on. Its rapid expansion and its characteristic feature of crossing disciplinary boundaries are making it an interesting case to study, which takes a particular place in the overall history – and future – of social changes. As we shall indicate, STS have an increasing committment for the resolution of sociotechnical controversies. In this paper, we problematise this particular position by underlying the implicit politics of STS research and how they will shape the future of that particular field. Our approach is threefold. First, we give a brief overview of the history of the field and we point out the main evolutions since the developement of the Social Construction of Technology approach (SCOT) in the 1980s that long influenced the field. By doing so, we underline the epistemological critical tradition that gave the field some of its particularities that we address. We show how this tradition brought important insights of “political” nature within the development of the field. Second, our ambition is to highlight new patterns of evolution of the STS field, emphasizing the trends towards both a greater depoliticisation and a more engaged research. By “depoliticisation”, we intend to analyse the dynamics of institutionalisation of the field which adopts resources and tools to legitimate itself among the social scientific community. By “engaged” research, we will explore the evolutions of the STS field as inherently political. The field does have an implicit statement in favor of changing social order and an increasing willingness to actually influence that social change. In that respect, research projects in STS often have underlying politics, as we shall demonstrate. Third, we give a concrete example of these new patterns occuring, relying on the growing importance of nanotechnologies, both in the STS literature and research projects. We consider this case study to be intertwined with the development of STS as a field of research. In that sense, we stress that nanotechnologies happened to be a powerful tool for legitimation for the STS community. Therefore, we — as STS scholars — suggest instrumentalizing the interest we have in nanotechnologies in order to observe the evolutions of our field of research. Then, nanotechnologies will constitute an interesting ground to perform a test that will show depoliticisation and engagement as patterning the STS field.

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See detailFrom Bio to Nano: Learning From The Past to Shape the Future of Technology Assessment
Delvenne, Pierre; Fallon, Catherine; Thoreau, François; Brunet, Sébastien

Conference (2008, October 12)

In many Western countries over the last 35 years, the quest for more scientific governance on <br />crucial technological issues led to a broadening of the political world’s sphere of competences. <br />Indeed, various countries decided that dealing with global, invisible, irreversible and irreparable <br />risks had to be handled by an appropriate tool of management of technological innovations. So the <br />usefulness to institutionalize parliamentary Technology Assessment (PTA) offices emerged. <br />Nowadays, PTA is an instrument particularly suitable to study the new shape of science and <br />society’s interface and it represents a remarkable attempt to reform the institutional settings of <br />innovation. <br />However, while the overall uncertainty surrounding science and technology has been used by public <br />actors like parliamentarians or ministers in the past to legitimize a first generation of PTAs, the <br />emergence of a second generation in the 1990’s – centred on the constructive, interactive or <br />participatory TA approches – emphazises the co-evolution of technology and society rather than the <br />former linear determinist rationale. In this context, the STS community of scholars is increasingly <br />called upon by the public authorities to provide a “professional service role” (RIP, 1994), that is to <br />say to take a step into action out of the border of their intellectual engagement. <br />Then, we suggest to compare two successive periods by looking at the institutional management of <br />two distinct-but-complementary technological issues: biotechnology and nanotechnology. The <br />former has been taken into account by public actors at a time when the second generation of PTAs <br />was not yet rooted in the political practices. Thus, the management of the public debate related to <br />biotechnology has been characterized by a lack of sensitive, fruitful and interactive communication <br />between the stakeholders involved in the TA process, while the first applications were already being <br />commercialized. On the other hand, the latter is currently being tackled at a moment when the social <br />shaping of technology is widely acknowledged as well as the STS community may be invited to <br />pass from observation to participation in the political sphere. Given the uncertainty and complexity <br />encircling nanotechnology as well as its huge potential in many interconnected disciplinary fields, <br />the need to avoid the pitfall of the biotechnology’s experience is commonly accepted. <br />We offer to take nanotechnology as one of the most challenging technological issue to look beyond <br />the biotechnology’s roadblock and to show in which proportion the same scenario is reasonably <br />thinkable today, in order to spotlight whether we have learnt from the past in considering what is <br />1 <br />sometimes called “a new industrial revolution”. <br />We will raise some research questions like: how different are current TA practices as compared to <br />former ones? Are there new regimes emerging? Given the current technological convergence, how <br />complicated would it be to deal with NBIC technologies if we missed the point with biotechnology <br />alone? How suitable is PTA to engage in such interdisciplinary issues? Are we assisting the <br />emergence of a third PTA generation around the growing role of the STS community? How does <br />this scientific community dialogue with the historians of science who analyzed the earlier industrial <br />revolutions?

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See detailLe financement public des cultes et de la laïcité en Belgique. Quelles évolutions pour le pluralisme philosophique?
Thoreau, François

Master's dissertation (2008)

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See detailAppréhender l'incertitude: le Technology Assessment au service du processus décisionnel
Delvenne, Pierre; Joris, Geoffrey; Thoreau, François

in Pyramides: Revue du Laboratoire d'Études et de Recherches en Administration Publique (2008), 15(1),

Le présent article porte sur les processus de décision publique en situation d’incertitudes multiples, justifiant l’ouverture des frontières de l’objet de la décision et le recours à des instruments de production de connaissance particuliers. Dans un premier temps, nous mettrons en évidence les nouveaux référentiels structurant les processus décisionnels liés à des risques scientifiquement et socialement controversés. Dans un second temps, nous présenterons le « Technology Assessment » comme un outil de gestion publique des choix technologiques, et nous nous attacherons à décrire à la fois la pertinence et les limites de cet instrument de facilitation de la prise de décision dans un contexte marqué par sa complexité et largement empreint d’incertitude.