Mode 2 in Societal Context
In 1994, the three authors of this chapter, along with three others, published The New Production of Knowledge: The Dynamics of Science and Research in Contemporary Societies (Gibbons et al, 1994). Reviews were mixed. Some philosophers, historians, and sociologists of science regarded the argument in the book as either simplistic or banal (or perhaps both), while science policy analysts worried about the empirical evidence for the trends identified in the book (or argued that these trends were not new). However, the book sold well. Its broad thesis, that the production of knowledge and the process of research were being radically transformed, struck a chord of recognition among both researchers and policymakers. It seemed to make sense of familiar but disparate policies and practices which they were either encouraging or experiencing.
Of course, like all theses that gain a certain popularity (and notoriety) it was radically simplified and collapsed into a single phrase, almost a slogan: Mode 2. The old paradigm of scientific discovery (Mode 1) characterized by the hegemony of disciplinary science, with its strong sense of an internal hierarchy between the disciplines and driven by the autonomy of scientists and their host institutions, the universities, was being superseded—although not replaced— by a new paradigm of knowledge production (Mode 2), which was socially distributed, application-oriented, transdisciplinary, and subject to multiple accountabilities.
Those with most to gain from such a thesis espoused it most warmly: politicians and civil servants struggling to create better mechanisms to link science