Main goals

The working hypothesis was that social values, though often alluded to, may constitute a crucial dimension that has not yet been fully included in governance of science and technology. The project was therefore designed around three main goals:


(i)          To provide a blueprint for a value-based and value-informed new and flexible governance of the science-society relation in Europe.

(ii)         To provide concrete guidance on implementation issues in relation to improved governance schemes.

(iii)        To identify necessary research tasks in order to move from a generic understanding of value-based and value-informed governance to more specific mechanisms of governance that improve current practice.


To this end, there were a number of sub-goals addressed in this study:

i. The conceptions of the nature and the problematic heterogeneity of social values and the underlying conceptual differences across various disciplines in the humanities, the social sciences and, more and more, also the natural sciences are to be reviewed and critically discussed in order to provide a theoretical framework for further study.

ii. The relation between preferences, values and norms is to be analyzed, and the basic causal or other dynamic interactions with emergent attitudes are to be sketched in order to identify potential drivers of science and technology attitudes.

iii. Methodological approaches to the empirical mapping of existing social values, especially in regard to science and technology, are to be reviewed and critically discussed in order to provide a more reliable and pertinent mapping of social values in relation to science and technology issues in European publics.

iv. Dominant value sets with special importance for the S&T attitudes of the publics are to be identified among social values.

v. Participatory approaches and existing platforms of science and society dialogue are to be reviewed and critically discussed in regard to their potential contribution and role in eliciting and activating value-based attitudes of publics in pro-active technology assessments and science policy. This relates both to consensus-oriented “value-negotiations” as well as to clear-cut “value-conflicts” and their implications.

vi. An innovative participatory approach that is attentive to social values and carries the potential to develop socially robust outlines and agendas of S&T is to be developed, thereby linking perspectives from social sciences and ethics, which are often being treated completely separately.

vii. Legal, regulatory and other mechanisms, including soft-law (like guidelines), are to reviewed and critically discussed in regard to their potential to stimulate value-based and value-informed flexible governance and to respond to existing value isobars in European publics.

viii. The basic emergent governance framework is to be tested through two cases: dual-use biotechnologies and security technologies (biometrics in particular). They shall serve as pilot studies for more detailed follow-up research.


In sum, the project aimed at the scholarly clarification of essential aspects tied to the understanding of social values, as perceived from different disciplinary angles, including a philosophical / sociological / political science dimension, a social psychology dimension, a legal dimension and a science-society / participatory dimension. Furthermore, it aimed at knitting these different insights together in a blueprint for a value-informed governance of S&T, including concrete proposals how to implement these insights in actual practice. Finally, the project aimed at pointing to more specific research needs and knowledge gaps related to social values in S&T.




Read more: 

Studying values as “value Isobars”
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 Value Isobars’ project description  
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Value Isobars is an EU funded project under the seventh framework program.

The project has been coordinated by the Centre of the Study of the Sciences and the Humanities, University of Bergen and lead by Prof. Matthias Kaiser.

Funding period:
June 2009- November 2011

Project number: 230557

EU-funding: 819971.00 Euro