Asymmetric positioning and emerging paths

Rutger O. van Merkerk*, Harro van Lente

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Emerging technologies give rise to speculation, new strategies and a redistribution of roles. A broad range of actors anticipates to future developments on the basis of commonly available expectations. These anticipations allocate roles to selves, others and imagined future artefacts. The allocations of roles can hamper future developments. In this paper we investigate the dynamics of the allocation of roles and their importance for emerging technological fields. We draw on positioning theory as developed by Harre and Van Langenhove.In this paper we compare speech-acts from relevant actors in the emerging field of Lab-on-a-chip technology for medical application. Data was collected by conducting 50 + interviews throughout the innovation chain. In these interviews we elaborated interactively socio-technical scenarios of which speech-acts were derived. In the analysis we focus on about 300 speech-acts that relate to the story-line of Point-of-Care testing. Analysing the resulting patterns gives insight in the self-restricting effects that result from asymmetric positioning. Asymmetry results from the lack of overlap in positionings of selves, others, and future artefacts. We will show asymmetric positioning in our data and will show how our analysis contributes to an understanding of the state of emerging technological fields and to positioning theory. (C) 2007 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)643-652
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2008
Externally publishedYes

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