Unintended Thematic Group at the 16th Polish Sociological Congress

Unintended Consequences in Science, Technology and Innovation / Thematic group, 16th Polish Sociological Congress in Gdańsk, 14-17 September 2016

The unintended consequences is one of the most persistent paradigms in social sciences. Its focus ranges from unanticipated and perverse effects of social action, to the emergence of spontaneous order and durable social structure as an effect of social interactions and interdependence. The sociological discourse on the unintended has been mainly influenced by related perspectives in economics and public policy. Herein however, we propose to inquire in more depth the theoretical elective affinities with the science, technology and innovation domains.

The scale of unanticipated consequences grows proportionally to the advancement of science and technology. The invention of antibiotics in medicine allowed to elongate life expectancy significantly, but it also may have led to decreasing greatly a natural bacterial diversities in our bodies, which in turn results in growing obesity and new autoimmune diseases. In other cases however, the development of technology results in many desirable unanticipated results, one domain in which unintended benefits outnumber the costs is that of  information technology. Global warming can be seen as an unanticipated result of the growing use of such technology as cars, factories or household devices, but because of the danger it implies for environment it has also pushed the development of the so called ‘hydrogen economy’ which is much greener and safer than the traditional fuel economy.

We invite empirical, conceptual and methodological papers discussing unexpected consequences, side-effects, happy accidents and structured outcomes in science, technology and innovation. We are also interested in the implications posed by these phenomena for areas such as: politics, economy, research, environment,law and regulations, culture and society.

Organizers: Iwona Zielińska and Adriana Mica