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Social Embeddedness of Technology: Prospective Research Areas


  • Mariya Dobryakova

    () (Institute for Statistical Studies and Economics of Knowledge, National Research University Higher School of Economics (Russian Federation))

  • Zoya Kotelnikova

    () (National Research University Higher School of Economics (Russian Federation))


Strategic documents that reflect future S&T priorities are often formulated without sufficiently taking into account the social context of S&T developments. The paper discusses the capabilities of social sciences for a deeper contextual analysis when setting priorities and, consequently, for helping to make the diffusion of advanced technologies more efficient. The methodological basis of the analysis is the concept of the social construction of technology (SCOT). The list of critical technologies of the Russian Federation serves as an illustrative example of a strategic document defining S&T priorities. The authors point out developments with the highest potential for social embeddedness, which could be fully used only if coupled with an understanding of related social matters. These developments are divided into four groups (clusters): biomedicine and health, energy, environment, and transport. We identify for each cluster the social groups that would be affected by the relevant technologies, the potential for conflicts of interest and for formats of interaction. The paper proposes prospective areas of sociological research, allowing a deeper understanding of the real context in which new technologies might be developed and implemented, and thus may help optimize efforts for the diffusion of these technologies. We conclude that many prospective technologies, which by nature belong to the 'physical' world, would be more efficient if their implementation, and possibly also development, were accompanied (and in some cases preceded) by the outputs of relevant social science and humanities studies. In this sense, we propose the use of the 'social embeddedness of technology' concept. We argue that this is an important factor affecting the success of technology implementation, and sometimes, technology configuration.

Suggested Citation

  • Mariya Dobryakova & Zoya Kotelnikova, 2015. "Social Embeddedness of Technology: Prospective Research Areas," Foresight and STI Governance (Foresight-Russia till No. 3/2015), National Research University Higher School of Economics, vol. 9(1), pages 6-19.
  • Handle: RePEc:hig:fsight:v:9:y:2015:i:1:p:6-19

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Ram, Camelia & Montibeller, Gilberto, 2013. "Exploring the impact of evaluating strategic options in a scenario-based multi-criteria framework," Technological Forecasting and Social Change, Elsevier, vol. 80(4), pages 657-672.
    2. Lehrer, Mark & Asakawa, Kazuhiro, 2004. "Rethinking the public sector: idiosyncrasies of biotechnology commercialization as motors of national R&D reform in Germany and Japan," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 33(6-7), pages 921-938, September.
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    4. Rodríguez, Hannot & Fisher, Erik & Schuurbiers, Daan, 2013. "Integrating science and society in European Framework Programmes: Trends in project-level solicitations," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 42(5), pages 1126-1137.
    5. Fortes, Patrícia & Alvarenga, António & Seixas, Júlia & Rodrigues, Sofia, 2015. "Long-term energy scenarios: Bridging the gap between socio-economic storylines and energy modeling," Technological Forecasting and Social Change, Elsevier, vol. 91(C), pages 161-178.
    6. Shapiro, Brian & Baker, C. Richard, 2001. "Information technology and the social construction of information privacy," Journal of Accounting and Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 20(4-5), pages 295-322.
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    8. Eszter Bartis, 2007. "Two suggested extensions for SCOT: Technological frames and metaphors," Society and Economy, Akadémiai Kiadó, Hungary, vol. 29(1), pages 123-138, April.
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    More about this item


    social construction of technology (SCOT); diffusion of innovation; social embeddedness; social sciences; humanities; prospective research areas;

    JEL classification:

    • O32 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Management of Technological Innovation and R&D
    • O33 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Technological Change: Choices and Consequences; Diffusion Processes


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