Archives:Big Science, Competitiveness and the Great Chain of Being



During the 1980s in the United States, issues of Big Science and national competitiveness became entwined as advocates of Big Science projects increasingly sought to justify them to patrons in the White House and Congress in terms of competitiveness. The author examines this aspect of U.S. public policy and what it has to say about the discourses on Big Science and competitiveness, discourses in which to a large extent the role of technology has been treated as unproblematic and in certain ways as invisible. He also touches upon changing ideas among policymakers and those who spend government money on the appropriate role of government in technological innovation. In particular, he points to the continued exploitation of the "technology as applied science" model despite the fact that the underpinnings of the model have long been exploded by historians of technology.

Citation and Link

Robert W. Smith, "Big Science, Competitiveness and the Great Chain of Being," in Technological Competitiveness: Contemporary and Historical Perspectives on Electrical, Electronics, and Computer Industries (Piscataway, NJ: IEEE Press, 1993), 90-99. 

Big Science, Competitiveness and the Great Chain of Being (pdf)