Legitimizing the ESS: Big Science as collaborations across boundaries - Theme, Pufendorf IAS

Project: Network

Research areas and keywords

UKÄ subject classification

  • Natural Sciences
  • Engineering and Technology


Theme at the Pufendorf Institute for Advanced Studies

Layman's description

Legitimizing ESS: Big Science as collaboration across boundaries

The purpose of this theme is to study the European Spallation Source (ESS) to be inaugurated in Lund 2019. We will apply perspectives from economics, the social sciences and the humanities to analyze ESS as a contemporary Big-Science facility focusing on processes of legitimation, the building and management of
reliable collaborations, common understandings of scientific problems, data and (future) results.

The primary objective of this theme is to deepen the understanding of Big Science— often defined as projects demanding big budgets, big staffs and big machines. A central perspective in the context of legitimization applied here concerns its materiality, especially instrumentation. Since the instruments used in Big-Science facilities are extremely expensive, it is important to make them relevant for as many stakeholders as possible for as long time as possible. In order to solve this basic dilemma, safeguarding the flexibility of instruments is
crucial and achieved for instance through open-ended constructions as well as constant reconstruction. In the end, the design of instruments and their use is the result of constant negotiations among scientists, policymakers, financiers, users and other interest groups.

The second objective of this theme is to study the key processes leading up to the realization of ESS planned to be running on full scale in 2025. Today, organizations have been set up, strategies worked out, designs negotiated, financial plans made and discussions and debates held that will influence the future performance of ESS. We will focus our efforts on those discourses and practices that have already surfaced in the work of conceptualizing and building ESS, i.e. political, economic, legal, scientific, communicative and cultural.

In this theme, we will also analyze a wide range of processes forming ESS, from the early 1990s to the present, taking place in different arenas involving various groups extending from the public and scientists to policymakers and politicians.

Research in this proposed theme shall also employ cultural, managerial and social science perspectives to examine how archival routines, and the dissemination of research information, have been organized in other Big Science facilities. Beyond this, it shall study the archival practices at work around the ESS facility and help mitigate the organizational challenges facing archival and PR personnel working there.
Effective start/end date2011/08/102012/08/11