Democracies on trial. Assembling nanotechnology and its problems

Democracies on trial. Assembling nanotechnology and its problems


Brice Laurent

Ph. D. defence

The members of Ph D. examining board are:

Michel Callon, Mines ParisTech (Ph D. director) Sheila Jasanoff, Harvard University (chairman) Yves Sintomer, Université Paris 8 (rapporteur) Andrew Barry, University of Oxford (rapporteur) Arie Rip, University of Twente (examiner) Andy Stirling, University of Sussex (examiner)  


The dissertation analyzes nanotechnology as a macro political entity comprising objects, futures, concerns and publics, and examines sites where it is problematized. Focusing on operations defining public problems and ways of dealing with them, the analysis of the problematizations of nanotechnology is a path for the description of both the assemblage of nanotechnology and the enactement of democratic order. The study of the problematization of nanotechnology is conducted through the description of experiments and demonstrations involving technologies of democracy, using fieldwork in France, the United States, and international organizations. The dissertation considers successively some operations of replication and stabilization of expert-based technologies of democracy; processes using technologies of democracy to define “nano” objects and “responsible” nanotechnology futures; and examples of social and scholarly engagement in the critique of technologies of democracy. Thereby, processes of representation of, public management of, and social mobilization about nanotechnology are examined. Different problematizations of nanotechnology can then be reconstructed. The dissertation discusses American, French, European and international problematizations, and uses the empirical work in order to propose a realist critique of nanotechnology.