Category Archives: Allgemein

Interaktives Symposium: Leben mit Corona

Von 29. Juni bis 1. Juli findet am Institut für Höhere Studien das interdisziplinäre Symposium “Leben mit Corona” statt, zu dem Sozialwissenschafter*innen verschiedener Disziplinen eingeladen wurden, um ausgehend von aktuellen Forschungsergebnissen im Dialog mit Vertreter*innen öffentlicher Institutionen zu diskutieren, wie sich das Leben in Österreich mit Corona gestaltet und welche weiteren Forschungsfragen sich in Bezug auf gegenwärtige und zukünftige Herausforderungen der Pandemie stellen.

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New board members elected & STS Austria Prize awarded at annual business meeting

After a successful two-year period in which STS Austria held its second conference and launched several initiatives supporting students and early career researchers in STS, a new board was elected at the annual business meeting on February 25, 2020.

Max Fochler and Karen Kastenhofer will step down from their positions as president and treasurer after four years of board membership, in accordance with STS Austria’s bylaws. Florentine Frantz and Erich Grießler will also leave the board after this period. We wish to thank all of them for their initiative and dedication in helping to further establish STS Austria during the past years. We are also pleased that a number of new members are taking over positions on the board this year. The members of the newly elected board are:

Erik Aarden (Uni Wien): Kassier/ treasurer
Doris Allhutter (ITA)
Daniel Barben (AAU, Klagenfurt): Obmann/ president
Petra Schaper-Rinkel (Uni Graz): Stv. Obfrau / vice-president
Helene Sorgner (AAU, Klagenfurt): Schriftführerin/ secretary
Shauna Stack (Uni Wien/IHS): Nachwuchswissenschaftlerin/ junior scientist
Florian Winkler (UniWien/IHS): Nachwuchswissenschaftler/ junior scientist

This year’s annual business meeting ended with the celebration of the excellent scholarship of young researchers in STS, as the first STS Austria Prize for Early Career Publications was awarded to Ruth Falkenberg, Nils Matzner and Andrea Schikowitz.

You can read more about their work and other outstanding publications by early career researchers in STS here.

One of the missions of STS Austria is to support and promote events which improve scholarly communication and exchange in the field and integrate junior researchers in STS.

If you have an idea for an event or an initiative supporting these goals, let us know!



STS Austria Prize awarded to three outstanding early-career publications

We are happy to announce that the first STS Austria Prize for the best publications by early career researchers will be awarded to Ruth Falkenberg, Nils Matzner and Andrea Schikowitz. Among the many high-quality submissions received, the following publications were selected for their outstanding theoretical contributions, societal relevance, and quality of writing:

Ruth Ingeborg Falkenberg (2019): Downward-facing dog meets randomised controlled trial: Investigating valuations in medical yoga research. (Master’s thesis, Universität Wien)

Nils Matzner (2019): Governance und Verantwortung bei Climate Engineering. (PhD Dissertation, Alpen-Adria-Universität Klagenfurt)

Andrea Schikowitz (2017): Choreographies of Togetherness.
Re-Ordering Collectivity and Individuality in Transdisciplinary Sustainability Research in Austria
(PhD Dissertation, Universität Wien)

The STS Austria Prizes are endowed with EUR 500 each and will be awarded during the next STS Austria Business Meeting, taking place February 25 in Vienna:


Abstracts of awarded publications:

Ruth Ingeborg Falkenberg (2019): Downward-facing dog meets randomised controlled trial: Investigating valuations in medical yoga research

Foto: Ruth Falkenberg

In my thesis, I examine how medical researchers bring together yoga and modern biomedicine in the framework of randomised controlled trials (RCTs). Building on the assumption that setting up a research design involves different acts of valuation, I investigate the situated valuations that researchers perform in negotiating the encounter between yoga and biomedicine methodologically as well as theoretically. Moreover, I reconstruct how these concrete valuations are related to broader institutional, structural, and discursive regimes of valuation. Theoretically, my thesis thus brings together the investigation of research in the fields of biomedicine and complementary and alternative medicine from the perspective of Science and Technology Studies with a Valuation Studies inspired approach. Methodologically, I approached my research questions through qualitative interviews with researchers conducting RCTs on yoga, which were informed by an exploratory document analysis.

In my thesis, I show that yoga manifests in medical research as a multiplicity. I reconstruct five regimes of valuation influencing the researchers’ work, where especially two regimes related to evidence-based medicine (EBM) and biomedical knowledge seem to strongly influence the researchers’ practices. Within this framework, researchers value both more and less comprehensive forms of yoga for different reasons, and they tinker with yoga on a practical and on a theoretical level, thus adapting yoga and its explanations to different contexts. Similarly, they tinker with methodology in various ways, thereby making it possible to investigate yoga in the RCT framework and simultaneously doing justice to their appreciation of methodological diversity beyond the normative ‘gold-standard’.

Overall, my thesis highlights the dominance of the methodological framework of EBM and of biomedical understandings, while also illustrating the multiplicity of values that exists in medical yoga research, and the innovative potential that is inherent to heterarchical constellations of worth, were different valuations exist alongside each other. My work thus problematizes crude hierarchical orderings of worth, of methods, and of knowledge in medical research, and emphasises the benefits that seem to arise from giving room to more complex valuations.


Nils Matzner (2019): Governance and Responsibility of Climate Engineering

Foto: Nils Matzner

The international climate target of two, if possible 1.5°C global warming puts climate policy underpressure. The target might not be met without employing some high-risk methods of climate engineering (CE) which gain ever more attention in climate political discourses since more than a decade. CE is defined as the deliberate intervention into the climate system in order to reduce global warming. This includes technologies such as the injection of sulfur aerosols into the upper atmosphere and fertilizing the ocean for enhanced carbon uptake. On the one hand, CE offers the chance to reduce global warming while on the other hand, it comes with major risks and uncertainties.

The emerging CE technologies demand certain forms of governance and responsibility. Governance of CE deals with problems of a yet underdeveloped international regulation. Anticipatory Governance in particular offers a strategy for capacity building for a forward looking and reflexive way of dealing with CE. Furthermore, science, policy, and civil society are confronted with various questions of responsibility concerning CE. Whereas responsible research and innovation remains a huge task, broader questions of ethical, legal and political responsibility arise. The six articles presented in this cumulative dissertation deal with these questions. The methodology is largely oriented on discourse research, but also on social simulations and theoretical argumentation.

The results are discussed in relation to the German priority program for CE (SPP 1689) funded by the German Research Foundation. The SPP 1689 started as a responsibility initiative and dealt with various governance and responsibility problems. The analysis of the SPP and CE discourses aids to develop anticipatory governance and responsible research in order to mitigate negative consequences of CE.


Andrea Schikowitz (2017): Choreographies of Togetherness.
Re-Ordering Collectivity and Individuality in Transdisciplinary Sustainability Research in Austria

Foto: Andrea Schikowitz

For more than twenty years debates on which kind of knowledge is needed for adequately dealing with overarching environmental and sustainability challenges have been going on. It is claimed that opening up science towards societal problems and different kinds of knowing, as well as engaging in new relations and forms of togetherness with different actors is inevitable. This conviction has entered ever new initiatives and programs aiming at fostering new and more open kinds of knowledge pro-duction, as well as a body of literature dealing with its principles and applications. Transdisciplinarity is such an approach that does not only demand collaboration across disciplinary boundaries but also an integration of extra-scientific actors into the research process.

However, in spite of a continuous expression of political will of and conceptual preoccupation with inclusive, collective and process-oriented forms of research, it can be asked if a broader transformation of knowledge production can be observed in practice. In turn, what has increasingly entered contemporary science is a focus on individual productivity of researchers, primarily measured according to the amount of standardized output (mostly publications). Thus, currently researchers are in a tension between claims of collective and open research on the one hand, and the requirement to succeed individually within increasing competition on the other hand.

For understanding how new forms of knowledge production are translated into practice (or not), I thus investigate how researchers imagine their opportunities within a tension of collective research and individual assessment and how they cope with it in their working practices. Analytically, I focus on ‘choreographies of togetherness’, understood as modes of coping with tensions and incoherence between different be-longings and different collective and individual practices. Choreographies can be regarded as practices that stabilise or change social orders. In this way, also non-linear and unintended effects of changing demands and organization of knowledge production get accessible for analysis.

The empirical case is a huge Austrian research program in the area of transdisciplinary sustainability research that elevated the integration of extra-scientific actors into research to a central funding criteria. Besides analysing different program and project documents, interviews and focus groups with project participants were conducted and ethnographic observations in project meetings took place.



Workshop: Ignorance and non-knowledge: what consequences for democratic governance, politics and policy?

When: November 13-14, 2018
Where: Marietta-Blau-Saal, University of Vienna, Universitätsring 1, 1010 Vienna

Confirmed keynote speakers:
Linsey McGoey (University of Essex),
Matthias Gross (University of Jena, Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research – UFZ),
Stefan Böschen (RWTH Aachen),
Ulrike Felt (University of Vienna, Department of Science and Technology Studies).

Download Workshop Programme

About the workshop:
Ignorance and non-knowledge have become the subject of a growing body of research in the social sciences and humanities, giving rise to a new “sociology of ignorance.” In this line of thought, ignorance is not merely a consequence of the limits of our knowledge practices, but a knowledge practice in its own right. Concepts such as McGoey’s ‘strategic unknowns’ also challenge the assumption that power thrives only on information: In this perspective, ignorance and non-knowledge are often actively produced, cultivated, and exploited as a resource and a strategy.

While engagements with ignorance and non-knowledge have become more salient over the past decade, there are different conceptual understandings of these phenomena across disciplines. To begin with, sociologists of ignorance have highlighted the importance of nonknowledge practices as a resource for industry actors. Moreover, political sociologists, such as Matthias Gross, have recently made more explicit links between Beck’s concept of ‘risk society’, ignorance studies, and contemporary governance of risks and security. From a slightly different perspective, political scientists approach uncertainty – sometimes termed ‘contingency’ – as an inherent condition or even mechanism of governance, rather than an instrumentally negotiated outcome of governance.

This workshop takes these different understandings and concepts as points of departure and seeks to spark an interdisciplinary dialogue. In doing so, we seek to enhance our understanding of non-knowledge practices and their consequences for democratic governance, politics and policy. Specific questions of interest are:

• What relevance do different understandings of ignorance, contingency and uncertainty have for the study of governance?
• What practices of governing unknowable or unknown objects, and futures, can be discerned empirically?
• What strategies of action or inaction do non-knowledge and/or uncertainty provoke on the part of governance actors, and where and how can we identify such strategies?
• How do non-knowledge practices challenge or reinforce governance practices?
• What taxonomies of knowledge practices emerge in particular case studies and policy areas, and what do these practices mean for our understandings of governance in contemporary democracies?
• How are unknowns and uncertainties currently addressed in different policy arenas and research practices, and with what consequences?

Participation & Registration
Attendance of the workshop is free. Please sign up by emailing us at by 31 October and let us know which parts of the workshop you wish to attend.


Wann: Dienstag, 13 November 2018, 18:00 – 19:30
Wo: Alte Kapelle, Campus, Spitalgasse 2, University of Vienna

Wissenswert(e) Demokratie: Was hat Nichtwissen in evidenzbasierter Politik zu suchen?*

Klassische Modelle von demokratischer Politikgestaltung sind untrennbar mit der Vorstellung verbunden, dass politische Maßnahmen sich auf das beste vorhandene Wissen gründen sollten. Dass neben Wissen auch Werte und Ideologie Politikgestaltung färben, sehen BefürworterInnen von evidenzbasierter Politik oft als Störfaktor. Ebenso wird Nichtwissen häufig als Leerraum betrachtet, den es mit neuem Wissen zu füllen gilt. Diese Podiumsdiskussion versucht, die Rolle von Nichtwissen in der Politikgestaltung aus anderen Perspektiven zu beleuchten. Den Ausgangspunkt dafür bildet die These, dass Nichtwissen integraler Bestandteil jeder Wissensschöpfung ist, eine strategische Rolle spielen kann und damit auch mancher politischen Unentschlossenheit entgegenkommt. Wer entscheidet, was wissenswert ist, und wie gehen wir mit diesen „Wissenswerten“ in demokratischer Politikgestaltung um? Inwiefern lassen sich wissenssoziologische Thesen überhaupt mit dem Paradigma evidenzbasierter Politik vereinbaren?

Keynote: Matthias Gross „Die Evidenz für Nichtwissen“

Matthias Gross (University of Jena, Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research – UFZ)
Stefan Böschen (RWTH Aachen)
Ulrike Felt (Universität Wien)

Moderation: Katharina T. Paul

* Diese Podiumsdiskussion findet statt im Rahmen des internationalen Workshops „Ignorance and Non-knowledge: what consequences for democratic governance, politics, and policy?”

The workshop is organised by Katharina T. Paul, Ingrid Metzler, Erik Aarden (University of Vienna), and Helene Sorgner (AAU Klagenfurt). The Key Research Area ‘Knowledge societies in turbulent times’ (Faculty of Social Sciences) of the University of Vienna has generously agreed to co-fund the workshop, and additional funding will come from the FWF Austrian Science Fund (Grant #VA561), the Department of Political Science and STS Austria.

CFP – 2nd STS Austria Conference: Alpen-Adria-Universität Klagenfurt, 17-19 September 2018

Extended Deadline: 3 June 2018

“Innovation and Societal Transformation: Science, Democracy, and Sustainable Futures”

2nd STS Austria Conference, Alpen-Adria-Universität Klagenfurt, 17-19 September 2018

The dynamics and interrelationships between innovation and social change are one of the key topics in STS (Science, Technology & Society Studies), as well as a key issue in the exploration of sustainable futures. Around the globe and in many diverse ways, innovation has become a persistent concern—be it with regard to the competitiveness of research and business; the expected economic, environmental or social impacts; or the controversies around perceived future challenges, opportunities and ramifications. While the predominant notion of innovation is considered linear and primarily techno-scientific, STS analyses aim at better understanding the material, temporal and social complexities of innovation across various domains of contemporary societies. On this basis, the goal is to enlighten public debate and equip actors to be better able to contribute to the governance of innovation in society.

We would like to analyze and discuss the overall conference topic from three distinct perspectives:

–    Innovations as drivers of societal change, societal change as a driver of innovations:

Research in the STS tradition, including the history of science and technology and innovation studies, has produced a rich body of theories and case studies on interrelationships between science, technology and society. Of particular interest are cross-temporal, cross-sectoral, and cross-institutional comparisons, especially if they account for more recent or novel societal configurations, dynamics and outcomes of science, technology and innovation. We also invite presentations on how and why definitions of innovation have changed (e.g., regarding concepts and models of innovation; technological innovation and social innovation; or innovation and institutional or political reforms). How do innovations relate to societal change in particular areas? What dynamics of power are hereby at play? Which concepts of innovation and societal change co-exist that potentially conflict with each other? How do concepts of innovation relate to particular institutional constellations or political visions, both in theory and practice?

–    Innovations for societal transformation towards sustainable futures:

Research in many fields of scholarship (i.e., natural sciences, social sciences and humanities), together with various policy efforts at international, national and regional levels, have demonstrated that meeting the contemporary grand societal or global challenges necessitate fundamental changes in how knowledge, decision-making and practice are organized. Sustainable development (e.g., the Sustainable Development Goals as agreed upon in the United Nation’s Agenda 2030) provides basic orientations for approaching global challenges such as environmental degradation, social injustice, and misguided economic growth, while mostly black-boxing the predominant institutional frameworks of power. What kinds of knowledge are mobilized (or marginalized) in policies that aim at meeting the grand societal challenges? What institutional and cultural conditions contribute to innovations that respond to social needs (especially of the environment, the poor and otherwise disadvantaged) and allow for the reflection on the potentials and limitations of innovations? While the predominant modes of transnational innovation and economic competitiveness contribute to the production of global challenges, achieving long-term sustainable futures will also require science and technology to contribute to both technological and social innovations, and policies in support of research on, and for, societal transformation. How do particular research and innovation endeavors conceptualize and approach global challenges? Which concepts (of future societies, transformations, actors, etc.) are associated with innovations to be pursued? How can policy support research towards sustainable futures in a more democratic fashion (and what does democratic hereby mean)?

–    New deal for societal transformation, new social contract for transformative science and policy:

Far-reaching projects of political and institutional reform of the past and present have been referred to as “new deal,” while the particular configuration of science in society (e.g., as regards scientific freedom, the funding of science, and expectations towards the performance and outcomes of science) has been cast as the “social contract for science.” Considering the grand challenges ahead—which themselves provide a worthy subject for further critical inquiry—the envisioned societal transformations toward sustainable futures require changing commitments to what some would call a “global new deal.” Correspondingly, as science and policy are not only in place to serve such societal transformation, they may have to become increasingly transformative themselves. In consequence, this rather fundamental change in the configuration of science, policy and society (including the science-policy nexus) will likely need a new underlying agreement that spans institutions and societies. This raises further far-reaching questions: Should the distribution of risks and benefits of innovations be re-organized, especially among the public and private sectors, e.g. as regards financial commitments and rewards? How would the exploration of transformative development paths be supported, or undermined, by divergent political forms of government, in particular democratic or authoritarian ones? How would it affect some of the most foundational institutions of modernity, such as capitalist modes of production? Which forms of knowledge are needed in such emerging or envisioned new constellations, and how well is the contemporary science system equipped to provide them?

In addition to sessions relating to the overall conference topics outlined above, we will also organize an open track in order to facilitate wider participation of members and friends of STS Austria, and, in particular, to enable doctoral students and postdocs to present their projects. There will also be a pre-conference workshop organized  by graduate and doctoral students (see pdf: Call_ STS Austria 2018 Junior Workshop_Extended Deadline).

The conference Planning Committee invites abstracts of up to 300 words (office[at] The closing date for abstract submissions is 3 June 2018. You will be notified approximately three to four weeks later if your paper is accepted for presentation.

CFP – pdf: STS Austria-Call for Papers-extended deadline-2018 05

Conference Planning Committee:

Daniel Barben

Maximilian Fochler

Michael Ornetzeder

Petra Schaper-Rinkel

Helene Sorgner

Lisa Sigl

STS AUSTRIA Pre-conference Workshop for Junior Researchers and Students  – 17.09.2018, Klagenfurt


We are inviting contributions to a pre-conference workshop at the STS Austria Conference 2018, taking place on Monday, September 17th in Klagenfurt. The workshop will be dedicated to presenting and discussing original contributions by junior researchers, and aims to provide a space to critically engage with academic work and writing practices in STS.

Who this workshop is for:

If you are a student or otherwise self-identify as a junior researcher, working on questions related to science, technology and society, based in or around Austria, interested in getting to know your peers and their research, and looking for a friendly professional environment to present and discuss your work, this workshop is for you.

It does not matter whether your project (paper, thesis, intervention…) is still in its early stages or almost complete. All you need to participate is a short description (~ 300 words) of your idea and the motivation to develop it into a contribution that can be presented and discussed during the workshop, ideally by participating in our preparation meetings during the summer.

How we will prepare:

In preparation for the workshop, we will organize monthly online meetings over the course of the summer, allowing for peer-to-peer review by other participants and discussion of early drafts and works-in-progress. We encourage everyone interested in presenting at the workshop to also participate in these meetings, however, it is possible to register only for the workshop.              The first online meeting will be held in early June.

How to participate:

If you are interested in participating, please send an abstract or outline of your contribution to office[at] until June 3rd, 2018, indicating that your submission is intended for the pre-conference workshop.

pdf: Call_ STS Austria 2018 Junior Workshop_Extended Deadline


If you have any questions regarding the workshop or the preparation, don’t hesitate to contact us at helene.sorgner[at]


We are looking forward to your contributions!


Florentine and Helene