Contours of the future: Technology and innovation in cultural context

International Conference

1 – 3 November 2017, Saint-Petersburg, Russia

For postindustrial societies the future has turned into a space of risk and
construction of expectations. The future exists in the present as a discourse and rhetoric, as a competition of visions and agendas that shape the potential of future innovations. Scenarios of the future are transformative since they direct scientific practices, influence political and economical decisions, and focus stakeholders’ interests.

The conference will highlight processes of knowledge production about technologies of the future as a central sociocultural aspect of technological development. The participants are invited to consider the concept of sociotechnical imaginaries (Sheila Jasanoff) as a set of cultural practices applied by communities in order to construct shared meanings of desired futures - and to reflect on the role of technology in them. These practices involve not only experts such as scientists and engineers, but also politicians, public intellectuals, writers, journalists, artists. Success of innovations and the design of particular technologies depend on the cultural legacy shared by these people, as well as detailed consideration of social, legal, ethical and aesthetic aspects. This perspective emphasizes the ways through which technologies and societies are co- constructed, and how cultural meanings and power relations are embedded in science and technology.

To discuss these questions we invite theorists and practitioners whose work touches upon sociocultural aspects of technological change, including the fields of media and arts, foresight and policy, philosophy and cultural studies, history and sociology, linguistics and communication.

The conference welcomes papers that address the following topics:

  • Philosophy of science and technology: The future as an epistemological problem, philosophy of technological utopias
  • Methods of future studies: STS (Science and Technology Studies), sociology of expectations, sociotechnical imaginaries; forms of “working with the future” through foresight, strategic planning, scenarios analysis, role playing
  • The language of technical change and futurology, history of concepts, descriptions of the unknown
  • Sociology of innovation: The politics of the production of novelty and relevance; social and psychological aspects of information and communication technologies as sites for imagined interactions
  • Ethical aspects of emerging technologies: Bioethics, roboethics, information ethics
  • Aesthetic dimensions of technological change: Science art, news media; representations of science and technology in literature and art, visual images of the future
  • Cultural history of technology: Technology and national identity; technologies as media of cultural transfer; sociocultural aspects of users’ interaction with technology; appropriation and domestication of novel technologies
  • Digital Humanities: Making the human past fit for future generations
  • Archives of the future: Historical experience of forecasting and designing the future, museum exhibits, industrial heritage, industrial archaeology, buried and forgotten futures

Publication: Conference materials (short papers and extended abstracts) will be published prior to the conference.

Working languages of the conference are English and Russian.

Participation in the conference is free of charge.

Organizer: Peter the Great Saint-Petersburg Polytechnic University

Co-organizer: Society for the History of Technology

To apply:
  • Send an application to containing the title of the paper and your personal data (name, surname, institutional affiliation, telephone, and e-mail) by 1 July 2017. Participants will be notified on the status of their application by 15 July 2017.
  • Full text (10000 to 20000 printed characters) should be sent before 10 September 2017, tables and illustrations may be attached if needed.
Contact information:

Address: Politechnicheskaya street, 29, Saint-Petersburg, Russia, 195251

Telephone: +78126037347


Coordinator: Natalia Nikiforova, Assistant Professor of the School of Social Sciences, Peter the Great Saint-Petersburg Polytechnic University