chapter  3
53 Pages

Vision and Visualization in Science-Based Innovation Work

In this chapter, vision and visuality qua professional vision will be examined. Rather than assuming that professional vision is simply located in the scientists’ vision, vision is what is distributed over a variety of resources and assets mobilized in the research processes. In order to examine professional vision in scientifi c work, both a historical, diachronic view and a synchronic view emphasizing technoscientifi c procedures and resources will be maintained. As is suggested in the chapter, scientifi c work is not separated from broader social changes and consequently scientifi c practices but are strongly infused with opportune social values. For instance, as is suggested by some of the students of technoscience, aesthetic norms have always been an indispensable part of any scientifi c endeavour, and today the use of certain aesthetic features may be observed in virtually any domain of scientifi c work. Instead of seeing science as what is “ahead of,” “beyond,” or “outside” society (in Franklin and Roberts’s [2006: 13] formulation) and representing “the social” as what is “hopelessly and perpetually lagging behind the sciences,” science and society need to be thought of in terms of being largely intertwined; the sciences are part of society and society is both infl uencing and infl uenced by the sciences (Greenberg, 1999; Hacking, 2006; Novas and Rose, 2000; Rabinow, 1992; Rose and Novas, 2005). Instead, as Franklin (2001: 337; emphasis in the original), studying genomics research, stresses, “[w]hat we mean by society itself, what we understand the social to be, is itself one of the things that is changing in the context of new genetics.” Society and the social are terms that are redefi ned in the light of the new biological possibilities:

Science is not politics pursued by other means . . . Although internalist history may focus on the intellectual product as the sole object of

investigation and the prime historical mover, scientifi c work itself, even in the most ‘disinterested’ fi elds of inquiry such as the abstract fi eld of mathematics, is unthinkable without the objective conditions giving rise to and supporting it. (Lenoir, 1997: 14)

Franklin and Robert (2006: 13), examining the infl uence of new reproduction technologies and genetics, suggest that “while it is not helpful to underestimate the radical novelty of many of the new techniques, choices, and dilemmas encountered in the context of new reproductive and genetic technologies, or the diffi cult issues they present, it is equally unhelpful to overprivilege technological innovation as if they were a force unto itself.”1 Seen in this way, the epistemology of the eye and the practices of seeing in scientifi c work are inherently social in nature.