Keynote Speakers Monday 2 July 2018


Location of the keynote will follow soon.

Narratives and Social Order

Narratives of praise and blame occur all the time, they actually link up to a narrative infrastructure which supports the emergence and stabilisation of what I have called a division of moral labour in society, i.e. an articulation of social order. I will illustrate this with examples about newly emerging technologies (like nanotechnology) and their embedding in society. But the point is much larger: it is not just a matter of what is a mechanism of narratives linking up, a process which one can trace empirically. There is also an ontological point, that social order is essentially social-semiotic (cf. Actor-Network Theory). To show this I will discuss ‘village’ and ‘city’ as two different narrative structures,and two different social orders (cf. John Berger’s novels Pig Earth, and Lilac and Flag). There is a subsequent point about openings for change: if social order is narrative, at least in an important sense, openings for change must also be narrative, or better, narrative-in-action. One example is the phenomenon of tricksters, where their narrative-cum-action unsettles what appeared to be stabilized. An important further strand of research would then be about narratives of tricksters, and about the larger narratives that position tricksters and other change agents (and maintenance agents). The analysis of moral entrepreneurs and moral custodians (Becker) would be one entrance point. In conclusion, narrative matters, at the micro- and macro-levels, and their combination is integral to an understanding of dynamics and possibilities to intervene or at least modulate, hopefully for the better.

Biography Arie Rip

Arie Rip (see picture below) was educated as a chemist and philosopher at the University of Leiden. In the 1970s, he set up and led a program of teaching and research in Chemistry and Society in that University. He was Professor of Science Dynamics at the University of Amsterdam (1984‑1987) and Professor of Philosophy of Science and Technology at the University of Twente (1987-2006) where he continues after his retirement.  He holds an Extraordinary Professorship at the University of Stellenbosch, South Africa (2017-2019). He has led a research program on Technology Assessment of Nanotechnology (as part of the Dutch R&D Consortium NanoNed). His other main research interests are the changes in knowledge production and the future of science institutions, as well as narrative analysis and the role of narratives in the evolving constitution of social order.

 Arie Rip


Keynote information will follow soon