From ethics of restriction to ethics of construction: ELSA research in Norway
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionNordic Journal of Science and Technology Studies. 2015, 3 (1), 34-45. 10.5324/njsts.v3i1.2155
Current trends in ELSA policies are marked by keywords like collaboration, integration and Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI). This article analyzes how these trends have manifested themselves in Norway with the aim to find ways to understand and respond adequately to these policy developments. Recent criticisms of ELSA strategies accompanied by arguments for a turn towards ‘post-ELSI’ research approaches hold that ELSA research was designed to maintain a sharp unproductive normative division of labor between natural scientists on the one hand and ELSA researchers on the other hand. ELSA strategies consequently have to be overcome and restructured towards collaboration, integration and RRI. Our account of the Norwegian ELSA history does not support this simple analysis of the ‘modernist’ character of early ELSA strategies. We present and analyze a shift as it took place in two successive ELSA programs in the Research Council of Norway, and argue that ELSA policies that rest only on post-ELSI analyses, risk reinventing the wheel of collaboration. By insisting on the creation of novel designing strategies, one disregards important lessons from the early phases of ELSA research, and even more importantly, fails to recognize that an ethics of construction implies different challenges for different groups of ELSA researchers.