Cultivating Contemplative Science Identities through STIR Practitioner Dialogues

  • Smolka, M. (Poster presentor)
  • Erik Fisher (Poster presentor)

Activity: Talk or presentation / Performance / SpeechesTalk or presentation - at conferenceAcademic


Contemplative scientists often portray themselves as perceiving a tension between their scientific and contemplative selves within structural constraints of the neoliberal academy. We study the capacities of contemplative scientists to preserve their contemplative science identity through “socio-technical integration.” Socio-technical integration is any activity whereby practitioners take into account contextual (social, ethical, contemplative, environmental, economic, etc.) dimensions of their work as an integral part of that work. We examine how contemplative scientists enact and experience various forms of socio-technical integration in work-related decision-making. For this purpose, we invited contemplative scientists to collaboratively reflect on impending decisions in practitioner dialogues following the protocol of Socio-Technical Integration Research (STIR) and conducted follow-up interviews about their experiences thereof. By analyzing our empirical material through the lens of midstream modulation, we identify relational practices that enhanced awareness of integrative possibilities, which, in some cases, led to modifications of work practices. We liken these relational practices to “values levers” because they stimulated reflections on values and value conflicts. In studying values levers, we highlight the oft-unacknowledged carriers of socio-technical integration in practitioner dialogues, which enhanced scientists’ capacities to resist and cope with structural effects on their agency. In doing so, they cultivated contemplative science identities within neoliberal regimes while participating reflexively in the social construction of technoscience. These findings contribute to scholarly discourses on socio-technical integration by suggesting the potential of STIR practitioner dialogues to serve as institutionalized occasions for deepening reflection on the contextual dimensions of research.

This study was supported by the European Mind & Life Varela Award 2019 under the project title: “Tracing Collaborative Reflection Moment-to-Moment: Bringing Science & Technology Studies to Contemplative Science and Vice Versa.” Any views, findings, conclusions, and recommendations expressed in this study do not necessarily reflect those of Mind & Life Europe.
Period20 Aug 2021
Event titleEuropean Mind & Life Summer Research Institute 2021: Care for life: Enacting knowledge in an interdependent and uncertain world
Event typeConference
LocationWinterthur, SwitzerlandShow on map