Reconstructing biotechnologies - Critical social analyses

Edited by Guido Ruivenkamp, Shuji Hisano and Joost Jongerden 
Wageningen Academic Publishers  2008  

Hardcover  365 pp approx  ISBN 9789086860623      £75.00
The main subject of this publication is the co-creation of society and biotechnology. The authors do not treat society and biotechnology as separate domains, instead they consider technologies as socially constructed. The main focus of this publication is on agro-biotechnologies and the contributors present perspectives for reconstruction both from and in 'the North' and 'the South'. Reconstructing biotechnologies offers a range of critical social analyses confronting the actuality of biotechnology with the potentialities of its social reconstruction. In doing that, the book develops and merges literature from four different disciplines, namely (i) critical theory and its analyses of technology and power, (ii) political economy, critically assessing the interrelationship between economy, politics and technology, (iii) social constructivism, which holds that technology is the product of agency and knowledge systems, and (iv) the analysis of rural society and agrarian technologies in rural sociology.

Reconstructing biotechnologies introduces exciting approaches and examples into the social reshaping of biotechnologies. It brings together critical examinations of contemporary biotechnology development and puts forward possible alternatives written by critical scholars. The contributions in this publication are for students and scholars in a wide range of disciplines such as social and political sciences, science and technology studies, and development studies.

The editors of the book are associated with the Social Sciences Department of Wageningen University in the Netherlands and the Graduate School of Economics of Kyoto University in Japan. They have published extensively on social and political theory and biotechnology.


Introduction, Guido Ruivenkamp, Shuji Hisano and Joost Jongerden

Part I. The politics of biotechnology

  • Tailoring biotechnologies: a manifesto, Guido Ruivenkamp
  • Local activism and the 'biotechnology project', Rachel Schurman and William Munro

Part II. Opposition and participation

  • Tidy back yards or global justice? Types of rural GMO opposition in Austria and France and their wider implications, Franz Seifert
  • Democratising agri-biotechnology? European public participation in agbiotech assessment, Les Levidow

Part III. Potentialities of reconstruction: critical reflections

  • First the peasant? Some reflections on modernity, technology and reconstruction, Joost Jongerden
  • Reconsidering agricultural modernisation: three dimensions of questioning and redesigning biotechnologies for international agricultural development, Wietse Vroom
  • Ethicization of biotechnology research,politicisation of biotechnology ethics , Shuji Hisano

Part IV. Quality agriculture and networks

  • European quality agriculture as an alternative bio-economy, Les Levidow
  • Agriculture, food and design: new food networks for a distributed economy, Ezio Manzini
  • Quality agriculture and the issue of technology: a short note on reconstruction, Joost Jongerden and Guido Ruivenkamp
  • Communic(e)ating: communication and the social embedding of food, Guido Nicolosi

Part V. Potentialities of reconstruction: cases

  • Risk, rights, and regulation: the politics of agricultural biotechnology in South Africa, William A. Munro
  • Biotechnology policy: the myth and reality in Sub-Saharan Africa, George O. Essegbey
  • Reconstructing agro-biotechnologies in Tanzania: smallholder farmers perspective, Elibariki Emmanuel Msuya

Part VI. Regulating technologies

  • Recoding life in common: a critical approach of post-nature, Eric Deibel
  • The wiki way: prefiguring change, practicing democracy, Kate Milberry
  • Tailoring rights regimes in biotechnology: introducing DRIPS next to TRIPS, Niels Louwaars

About the authors

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Wageningen Academic Publishers : agriculture & forestry : biotechnology : genetically modified organisms : policy : sociology

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