Strife of Brian: Science and Reflexive Reason as a Public Project. An interview with Brian Wynne

  • Marie Antonsen
  • Rita Elmkvist Nilsen
Keywords: Interview, expertise, democracy, science studies


We met Brian Wynne in late April 2013. The place was Hell, Norway, which is nicer than it sounds, especially if you are attending the first Nordic STS Conference. We had recently established NJSTS, and when we heard that Brian Wynne was giving a keynote lecture at the conference, we took the opportunity to interview a pioneer in the field about the so-called political turn in STS. The topics of Wynne`s work ranges
from technology and risk assessment, public risk perceptions, and public understanding of science, focusing on the relations between expert and lay knowledge and policy decision-making. He has promoted STS and its democratizing potential since the very beginning, and has never been known to shy away from the more controversial aspects of public understanding and engagement in science. Neither did he in this interview: It seems despite his strifes, he is still going with a strong programme.

Professor Wynne has addended the interview with some clarifications and references.


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Ezrahi, Y. 1990. The descent of Icarus: Science and the transformation of contemporary society. Cambridge. MA: Harvard Univ Press.

Felt, U., and Wynne, B. 2007. Taking European knowledge society seriously. Luxembourg: DG for Research. EUR, 22/700.

Forman, P. 1971. Weimar culture, causality, and quantum theory, 1918-1927: Adaptation by German physicists and mathematicians to a hostile intellectual environment. Historical studies in the physical sciences 3: 1-115.

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Jasanoff, S. (ed.). 2004. States of knowledge: the co-production of science and the social order. London: Routledge.

Keepin, B, and B. Wynne. 1984. Technical analysis of IIASA energy scenarios. Nature 312: 691-695.

Latour, B. 1983. Give me a laboratory and I will raise the world. In K. Knorr-Cetina & M. J. Mulkay (eds.), Science observed: Perspectives on the social study of science. 141–170.

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Stirling, A. 2010. Keep it complex. Nature, 468 (7327), 1029-1031.

Welsh, I., and Wynne, B. 2013. Science, scientism and imaginaries of publics in the UK: Passive objects, incipient threats. Science as Culture. 22 (4), 540-566.

Wickson, F., and Wynne, B. 2012. The anglerfish deception. EMBO reports, 13 (2), 100-105.

Wynne, B. 1982. Rationality and ritual: the Windscale Inquiry and nuclear decisions in Britain. Chalfont St Giles, Bucks: British Society for the History of Science.

Wynne, B. 1984 The institutional context of science, models, and policy: The IIASA Energy Study. Policy Sciences 17 (3): 277-320.

Wynne, B. 1987. Risk management and hazardous waste : implementation and the dialectics of credibility. Berlin: Springer.