Reversing the Gaze on Expectations in Technology: The Philosopher José Ortega y Gasset and Innovation Studies

Harro van Lente*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterAcademic

Abstract

In this chapter, I detail how a philosophical detour profoundly altered my study on the role of expectations in innovation in the early 1990s. The initial research question, drawn from history and economics of technology, and from science and technology studies (STS), was how expectations reduce uncertainties in innovation. Halfway through the trajectory, I accidentally came across the works of the Spanish philosopher José Ortega y Gasset (1883-1955), who sketches the human condition as taking up roles in dramas to achieve an imagined life. Reading his texts helped me to formulate a “sociology of expectations, " because it reversed the gaze: expectations about technology are not just instrumental in reducing uncertainties, but they also introduce a self-invented play, in which firms and engineers involved in the development seek to make it happen. Moreover, Ortega y Gasset’s bold intellectual style and unfamiliar phrasing offered me a novel approach to research puzzles.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationInterdisciplinarity in the Scholarly Life Cycle
Subtitle of host publicationLearning by Example in Humanities and Social Science Research
EditorsKarin Bijsterveld, Aagje Swinnen
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Pages25-39
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)9783031111082
ISBN (Print)9783031111075
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2023

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