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Nanotechnology and Neoliberalism

  • Author(s) / Creator(s)
  • This chapter investigates the relationship between innovation in emerging technologies and neoliberalism as it is implemented in the case of the National Institute for Nanotechnology (NINT) on the campus of the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada.i Neoliberalism in this context is defined as a series of critiques of bureaucracies' abilities to understand and regulate the economy and a valorization of the ability of communities to self-govern (Hayek, 1945). In this chapter, neoliberal refers to the theories of von Hayek, on one hand, and is presented as used by the diverse participants in an community-based, ethnographic research project. I reflect on the case of the NINT using ethnographic and geographical approaches, using narrative to capture the complexity of a local place. This goes beyond local socioeconomic conditions in order to map the microphysics of co-evolving cultural repertoires and community institutions within which neoliberal science policy and programs are deployed. Drawing on and critiquing Mitchell Dean’s four axes of governance, governmentality is used as a rubric under which to examine the interaction between neoliberal forms of capitalism and research in emergent sciences as recounted in the narratives of participants in our ethnographic study.ii There were a total of 104 participants who represented the public locally, experts and various policy and industry actors (see below). Finally, I hypothesize that nanotechnology may initiate a shift from a biopolitical to “nanopolitical” governmentality that requires a fundamental recasting of what we understand as the governmental rationalities of neo-liberalism and its objects.

  • Date created
  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Type of Item
    Research Material
  • DOI
  • License
    Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International
  • Language
  • Citation for previous publication
    • Shields, R. (2015) Nanotechnology and Neoliberalism. CRSC Working Paper. Edmonton: City Region Studies Centre, University of Alberta.