Meet the LOC – Alexander Bogner

In our series “Meet the LOC” we would like to introduce you to the members of our Local Organizing Committee. The previous entries in this series can be found here.

Alexander BognerWhat is your main sociological field of study and what sparked your interest in it?

Sociology of science and technology is my main research field. I am especially interested in how science and technology change when the boundaries between science, politics and the public blur. Over recent years I have focused on public engagement in science and technology. Today, with a view to the governance of new and emerging technologies, public engagement is considered to be key. However, people often are not interested in being involved. My question is: which societal demands does the ‘participatory turn’ respond to?

What characterizes your scientific work?

Originally, I was strongly influenced by critical sociology as represented by the Frankfurt School. For me, the motivation to study sociology was tantamount to the ambition to change society. Unfortunately, later I had to realise that the Frankfurt way of doing sociology does not work anymore. Since then, I have changed my focus a little bit and increasingly tried to combine empirical research and social theory by mainly drawing upon system theory approaches.

What is the main professional activity you are engaged in?

Currently, I am a member of the steering board of the Austrian Sociological Association (ÖGS). The ÖGS was founded in 1950 and is still the most important interest group of Austrian sociology. For the time being the steering board is mainly engaged in fostering international co-operation and in finding new ways to support young academics. Additionally, I am the speaker of the section Sociology of Technology and Science in the Austrian Sociological Association.

What are your next projects or publications?

For the next two years I will be engaged in two research projects funded by the EU under FP7 and Horizon 2020, respectively. The first one called SYNENERGENE (2013-2017) deals with the issue of how to effectively engage stakeholder and citizen in new and emerging technologies such as synthetic biology. The second one under the acronym PROSO (2016-2018) will analyse whether public engagement in innovation processes results in a socially more robust outcome. In 2015, the monograph Gesellschaftsdiagnosen (2nd edition) – an overview over the outstanding sociological diagnoses of our time – as well as an edited volume on “Responsible Innovation” will be published.

Alexander Bogner is a senior scientist at the Institute of Technology Assessment of the Austrian Academy of Sciences in Vienna. His main research interest lies in the sociology of science and technology. Currently he is the vice president of the Austrian Sociological Association (ÖGS).

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