Research in science, technology and society

This research area concerns the relationship between science, technology and society, both historically and during the contemporary period. Today, universities are not only subject to expectations of disciplinary growth of knowledge, but also expectations of economic growth and innovation. During the 20th century science was seen as evolving through its internal logic, although social factors have of course always mattered. During the last 30 years the perspective has changed; it has become seen as legitimate and necessary that the needs of business and political decisions actively affect the development of scholarship. The research area covers, among other things studies the interaction between universities, politics and business from different perspectives.

STS Uppsala

Ongoing projects

Mapping the geographies of early modern mining knowledge. A digital history of the study tours of the Swedish Bureau of Mines, 1691-1826

Project leader: Jacob Orrje (History of Science and Ideas, Uppsala University)
Project members: Måns Jansson (Economic History, Uppsala University), Olof Karsvall (Swedish National Archives and Human Geography, SU)
Duration: 2022-2024
Funding: Vetenskapsrådet

Early modern mines were like subterranean roots from which fiscal-military states drew military, economic, and scientific power. To improve this vital trade, fledgling European mining administrations encouraged travelling officials to tour foreign territories to collect new useful knowledge. This three-year collaborative project between researchers at Uppsala and Stockholm University uses state-of-the-art digital methods to explore the collection of foreign knowledge of the Swedish Bureau of Mines through their system of study tours.For over 100 years – from the late seventeenth century until the early 1800s – the Bureau encouraged its officials to travel across Europe and beyond. They meticulously documented these voyages, and over time produced numerous handwritten travelogues, which are preserved to this day in the Swedish National Archives. Through, e.g., Handwritten Text Recognition (HTR), and Deep Mapping, we will turn the Bureau’s archive into an enriched dataset suitable for mapping the geographies of early modern mining knowledge, and understanding the practices of the travelling mining officials. Using this data, we will carry out a detailed, yet long-term, analysis of the circulation of mining knowledge. Consequently, the project will provide new insights of how digital methods can be integrated in historical analysis, while also improving our understanding of the rise of modern science, state-making, and industrialisation.

The Swedish National Institute of Economic Research, the Stockholm School and the reimagining of Swedish economics 1927-1955

Project leader: Pär Wikman
Duration: 2020-2023
Funding: Jan Wallander och Tom Hedelius Stiftelse

The project is situated between economic and political history. I study how the economic knowledge production influenced and was influenced by economic policy making. I am currently working on a project that studies the establishment of the Swedish National Institute of Economic Research and how that institute functioned as a link between economic research and economic politics. During the 1930s macroeconomics was established as a distinct field of research, something that coincided with the emerging Swedish welfare state. I study how this new understanding of the economy that was developed within economics was a prerequisite for the welfare reforms and how the political relevance this afforded economics simultaneously shaped it as a discipline.

Italian and Swedish Food Businesses - To Drive Or To Hinder System Innovations Combatting Antibiotic Resistance?

Project leader: Alexandra Waluszewski

The major part of the world consumption of antibiotics, about 2/3, takes place in animal based food production. This ‘antibiotic infrastructure’ (Chandler, 2019) emerged rapidly during the second half of the 20th century, where an economic motivated routine group treatment of so called ‘food animals’ developed along with individual treatment of sick animals based on veterinary diagnosis. Antibiotic resistant bacteria of animal origin are transmitted to humans mainly through environment and farm workers (Kirchhelle, 2018, van Boeckel et al 2018, Waluszewski et al, 2016).
The project concerns two EU producing and using settings; the Swedish representing the lowest consumption of antibiotics for animals, and Italy, using 23 times more per kilo, representing one of highest consumption within EU. More precisely, we focus on pig meat based food, which conventionally, along with poultry, represents the most extensive antibiotic treatment. The overall research question concerns the driving forces behind and the key features of the two different production systems. That is, what social and material resources, represented by what actors, are behind the Swedish production system’s ability to compensate for routine group treatment with antibiotics; what are behind the Italian high consumption, and finally, what are the prerequisites and hindrances for a radical reduction of the antibiotic consumption in the latter setting. A related question concerns how to share costs and benefits of such normative based innovation, among direct and indirect related actors; in the private and public setting. The project is managed by Alexandra Waluszewski in cooperation with Andrea Perna, Associate Professor, Polytechnic University of Marche, and Alessandro Cinti, PhD student, Associate Professor, Polytechnic University of Marche.

Follow the Pig

Project leader: Alexandra Waluszewski

"Follow the Pig" is a NOS-HS granted workshop project (2019-2021), coordinated by Kristin B. Munksgaard, Prof., University of Southern Denmark, Aino Halinen, Prof. University of Turku, and Debbie Harrison, Prof., Norwegian Business School and Alexandra Waluszewski, Prof., Uppsala University. The aim with the multidisciplinary workshop series is to discuss the differences in the use of antibiotics in the Swedish, Danish, Norwegian and Finnish pig meat production and how these are related to forces in: a) The pig meat producing setting; including the role of complementary businesses such as suppliers of animal pharma, equipment, feed, and the role of national and transnational governments in terms of regulations etc., b) the pig meat user setting, with a special focus on the role of the retail industry, and c) research & development, with a special focus on research on resistance and how it is reacted upon.

Collective interests and assets in a global economy

Project leader: Alexandra Waluszewski

Ett publikationsprojekt under ledning av Alexandra Waluszewski, Uppsala universitet, i samarbete med Ivan Snehota, Università della Svizzera italiana (USI) och Håkan Håkansson, prof.em Handelshögskolan BI Oslo. Avsikten är att sammanställa och analysera empiriskt material rörande hur kollektiva intressen och tillgångar påverkas av att de i allt större utsträckning hanteras av privata företag som opererar i ett globalt företagslandskap. En viktig aspekt är att kollektiva intressen inte bara påverkas av den enskilda privata aktör som fått i uppdrag att utföra viss verksamhet, utan också av att de blir del i en större struktur av interagerande privata enheter. Det övergripande syftet med projektet är att undersöka hur dessa kopplingar påverkar innehållet och riktningen i samspelet mellan det kollektiva och det privata. I ett ekonomiskt landskap präglat att kraftfulla aktörer sammankopplade i intrikata, gränsöverskridande nätverk torde det för de kollektiva intressena vara avgörande med vilken medvetenhet och styrka dess företrädare kan agera.

EU’s ‘Smart Specialisation Strategy’ – changing private-public interaction patterns

Project leader: Alexandra Waluszewski

This is a research collaboration involving Alexandra Waluszewski, Uppsala University, Jens Eklinder-Frick, University of Gävle and Andrea Perna, Uppsala University. The ‘Smart Specialisation Strategy’ is EU’s new ‘research and innovation’ concept, and in the same way as its forerunners it promotes a specific type of public-private collaboration; between public research units, regional policy and private firms. The ambition with the Smart Specialisation Strategy is to give regional policy guidelines concerning how to create ‘research and industry crossing innovative system’. The Smart Specialisation Strategy is based on involvement of public research units, regional institutions and governmental agencies, with the regional policy actors as the driving force; responsible for the selection of appropriate ‘innovative domains’, and businesses. (EU Regulation 1301/2013) The overall ambition of the research collaboration is to shed light on what understanding of public research and private business this arrangement is resting on, and what consequences it is assumed to have – for the private and public actors directly involved as well as for society at large. A specific focus is directed to what specific changes in the interaction pattern between public and private actors adopting the Smart Specialisation Strategy have given rise to.

Markets for scientific publication: an economic history

Project leader: Ylva Hasselberg
Project members: David Dellstig (Economic History, Uppsala University), Johan Svedjedal (Literature, Uppsala University), Peter Josephson (Södertörn University)
Duration: 2015-2019
Funding: Handelsbankens forskningsstiftelser

The aim of this project is to initiate the study of markets for scientific publication as a field of study within economic history. In particular the area of study is markets strategies, funding of scientific publication and its change over time, and the relationship between markets for publication, the state and funding agencies, 1770-2010.

Who reaps the benefits of innovation? New science based products/services and the distribution of material and monetary benefits

Project leader: Alexandra Waluszewski
Project members: Andrea Perna (Engineering Sciences, Uppsala University and Polytechnic University of Marche, Ancona, Italy)
Duration: 2015-2019
Funding: Handelsbankens forskningsstiftelser

Do the extensive Swedish public and private life science innovation investments also lead to new products/services produced and marketed globally by companies located within the same legal borders as were the innovation investments were made? This is the overall research question the project, which aim to outline a) the forces behind those innovation investments that actually have resulted in a successful outcome; in terms of new products/services embedded into production/global marketing and widespread use, the spatial dimension included, and b) the distribution of social-material respectively monetary benefits among the involved actors.

Science and money: An economic history of research policy

Project leader: Ingemar Pettersson

This project studies the economic conditions of science from the late 19th century and onwards when research emerged as an important political question in Sweden. In particular, the project investigates the scope of public research funding and how it was shaped politically. Both qualitative and quantitative methods are used. Good knowledge of Swedish is a requirement.

Masters of flavor: Food invention in high-industrial Sweden

Project leader: Ingemar Pettersson
Project members: Daniel Normark (Economic History, Uppsala University)
Duration: 2017-2020
Funding: Riksbankens jubileumsfond

The purpose of the project is to examine how scientists and engineers analyzed and designed sensory properties of food – the "flavor" in other words – in twentieth century Sweden when food industries developed rapidly. We focus particularly on the field of sensory science which applied methods and techniques from for scientific areas such as chemistry, psychology, medicine and statistics for understanding smells, tastes and textures and how humans perceive them. This type of sensory research became increasingly important for food invention in the period and was used in laboratories, research institutes and test kitchens connected to the food industry in Sweden. The project aims to expand our knowledge of how tasting became a scientific venture and our main method is to do “biographies” of a range of food products and how their flavor characteristics were formed by different technoscientific practices. The method allows us to answer important questions about the human senses, science and technology, economic change and how the intersections of these areas were reconfigured in the course of food industrialization in the twentieth century. How were intrinsically subjective sensory appreciations turned into scientific objects? How, and why, were flavor standardized? What was "good" flavor – and who had the authority to make such judgments? How did food producers gain knowledge of consumer preferences? What social and economic mechanisms of industrialization prompted the scientification of tasting?

The academic building. Building, location and the development of research and teaching at Swedish universities 1975-2015

Project leader: Ylva Hasselberg
Project members: Magnus Eklund, Lars Fälting (Economic History, Uppsala University)
Duration: 2017-2020
Funding: Handelsbankens forskningsstiftelser

The aim of this project is to study building and use of physical space within Swedish universities 1975-2015 and to relate this area to the core activities of research and teaching. The main questions are:

  1. Which rationality has governed the procurement and distribution of physical space?
  2. Is it possible to trace a development over time in how universities handle issues related to construction and procurement of premises, e.g. in the share of the overall budget set aside for physical space?
  3. What consequences have strategies and decision related to physical space had for research and teaching?

From professor´s privilege to entrepreneurial universities: Policies of patenting and commercialization in Sweden 1940–2000

Project leader: Ingemar Pettersson
Duration: 2017-2020
Funding: Handelsbankens forskningsstiftelser

The main objective of the project is to study changes in the politics of academic research through a focus on commercialization and intellectual ownership. In particular, the project seeks to understand the normative contexts of university science and how they have changed over the twentieth century. Important topics for the project are, for instance, the emergence of organizational infrastructures for commercialization of academic research; the relations of universities toward other forms of knowledge producers; legislative frameworks – notably the so-called professor's privilege; the large reforms of the university sector taking place in the post-war decades in Sweden; the use of patents for measuring productivity and ranking universities; and the political movements attempting to transform universities into drivers of innovation and make academic science more "entrepreneurial".

The Business of Identity. Money and Identification in Twentieth Century Sweden

Project leader: Orsi Husz
Duration: 2018 - 2021
Funding: Vetenskapsrådet

The concept of identity has become omnipresent in the social sciences and humanities. Yet the most obvious aspect of how society handles identities has rarely been explored, namely the actual practice of identification. The few existing historical studies of documented identity direct their focus towards the efforts of bureaucratic states to make their citizens ‘legible’ and controllable, especially in relation to mobility and crime. However, in the emerging consumer society of the 20th century the most prevalent situations requiring identification have been the economic transactions of daily life. Moreover, such financial identifications (e.g. today’s digital BankIDs) have often been used for other purposes than commercial transactions. There are, in short, strong economic interests involved in the infrastructures of identity. This project studies the changing interconnections between everyday finances and identification, or, in more abstract terms, between money and identity. I will explain why Swedish banks gained such an important role in the management of identities (unique in international comparison) by analysing how material devices for identification (such as the Post Office’s and the banks’ ID-cards and credit cards) were developed and how they replaced earlier forms of identifications. By applying a cultural theoretical perspective I aim to show how social/cultural identities and the infrastructures of identification shape each other in the business of identity.

The intimate relationship. A cultural economic history of everyday finances

Project leader: Orsi Husz
Duration: 2018 - 2019
Funding: Riksbankens Jubileumsfond (RJ Sabbatical Grant)

In most western societies today it is nearly impossible to manage one’s life without a bank account. Formal financial institutions are in many ways involved in our daily life and in the allocation of almost every penny we earn, spend, borrow, invest or simply transfer to each other. Although savings accounts were common already in the 19th century in Sweden, a close everyday relationship between banks and ordinary people started to develop in the late 1950s. The proposed book explores the cultural problems and changes that this transition necessarily involved –already before de so called financialisation since the 1980s. This is a story about class: how did workers start to use check accounts offered by commercial banks, something that only the most privileged held before? And a story about gender: why and how were finances and banking redefined in a more feminine and domestic frame? It is also about moralities and the attempts to de-stigmatise consumer credit when credit cards were introduced. And lastly about financial knowledge (financial literacy) and the practices and negotiations concerning what ordinary people should know about everyday finance and who should advise them. A research stay at the University Paris-Nanterre will intensify my dialogue with colleagues – historians and economic sociologists – with whom I have been collaborating on these questions over the past years. It also opens for comparative insights, joint grant applications and educational exchanges.

City view with bicycle detail
Last modified: 2023-05-15