Science, Politics and Science Policy in Canada: Steps towards a Renewed Critical Inquiry

By Holdsworth, David | Journal of Canadian Studies, Fall 2002 | Go to article overview

Science, Politics and Science Policy in Canada: Steps towards a Renewed Critical Inquiry


Holdsworth, David, Journal of Canadian Studies


[HEADNOTE]

In this essay, the author undertakes a critical review of Canadian science policy. This provides a framework in which to assess the current state of affairs of "science and politics in Canada." It is shown in what way notions of state-administered science policy, as well as market-driven exchange, are problematic. Special attention is given to the emergence of the concept of innovation, first appearing in the Science Council of Canada's 1968 Report #4, but now appearing uncritically throughout government documents on science and public policy. The core thesis of the essay, arising out of an analysis of the "essential tension" between the autonomy of science and the authority of politics, is that both the meaning of scientific practice and its relevance for public policy must be shaped by an ongoing critical discussion within civil society a discussion that must not be dominated by either the state or markets.

Dans cet article, l'auteur entreprend un examen critique de la politique des sciences au Canada. Ceci fournit un cadre pour evaluer la situation actuelle " de la science et des politiques au Canada ". On demontre de quelle facon les notions de politique des sciences administree par l'Etat ainsi que d'echange axe sur le marche sont problematiques. On s'arrete specialement a l'emergence du concept d'innovation qui est apparu pour la premiere fois dans le rapport no 4 du Conseil des sciences du Canada en 1968 mais apparait maintenant sans etre conteste un peu partout dans les documents gouvernementaux sur la science et la politique publique. La these qui sous-tend cet article provient d'une analyse de la " tension essentielle " entre l'autonomie de la science et l'autorite des politiques et avance que la definition de la pratique scientifique et sa pertinence en matiere de politique publique doivent etre modelees a l'aide d'une discussion critique continue au sein d'une societe civile - une discussion qui ne doit pas etre dominee par l'Etat ou les marches.

It is often said that we live in an age of science, or that ours is a scientific culture. It is rarely clear just what this means. On the one hand, it implies that our culture is a descendent of the enlightenment - that we value reason highly, perhaps above all else; on the other hand, it implies that our culture is rooted in technology and a version of pragmatic rationality which puts utility above all else. As is often the case when views are separated so sharply, neither holds up to scrutiny. This polarization between the idealized view of scientific culture as one with a profound respect for reason and the pragmatic view of scientific culture as one with a vulgar respect for utility is by no means trivial. Nor is it merely an exercise in philosophical abstraction to identify the rift. For it is a rift that informs many of our day-to-day discourses about science, and, more importantly, one which shapes affairs at the level of policy. In this essay I shall be concerned mostly with the latter.

What I would like to do here is motivate a theoretical discussion about science and politics in Canada by locating some of the relevant issues within the philosophical polarity I have just identified. The approach is generally historical insofar as I begin by sketching the development of science funding institutions in Canada; however, the themes are critical and philosophical. I hope to identify and clarify central ideas that have informed discussions in Canada about science and its place within the public policy process and within government and industrial decision-making institutions. The three themes which I highlight are (1) the concept of science policy, (2) our understanding of the relationship of science to public policy, and (3) the emerging notion of innovation as a rhetorical centrepiece of current public debates about science. Although the essays being published in this special issue of the Journal of Canadian Studies were not officially selected for nor organized around these themes, I believe that the historico-philosophical framework I sketch here provides some insight into the context in which the essays were conceived and written by their authors.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Science, Politics and Science Policy in Canada: Steps towards a Renewed Critical Inquiry
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.