Conceptual, instrumentational and institutional dimensions of river science evolved interdependently between 1980 and 2005. The analysis is informed by an approach of science as cultural practice, co-production as the shaping and working of knowledge in society in terms of interdependent discursive, social and material orderings, and contextual history of science. River science then serves as a case to evaluate claims made in three diagnoses of recent science (mode 2 science, strategic science, post-modern science). From the diagnoses five aspects are distilled for further investigation: a primacy of technology in scientific practices; the dissolution of disciplines and the emergence of inter- and transdisciplinary configurations; institutional heterogeneity, an orientation towards practical problems and specific institutions; and governance of science. River science is portrayed in subsequent chapters as a cosmopolitan scientific field, as specialties contributing to river science at the national level (Netherlands), and as emerging river science in the Netherlands and the shaping of a local research configuration. The analysis of river science confirms the claims distilled from the diagnoses of recent changes in science, but adds an aspect that does not figure in the diagnoses: an orientation towards design. The striking features of a primacy of technology in river science, and a primacy of hydraulics in the local research configuration were not intended, but can be understood from the contextual history. The metaphor of ‘making rivers modular’ in the title draws attention to a discourse that has emerged over the last decades. For river science, this is visible in scientific conceptions of rivers (the river as a spatially nested hierarchy), ways of integrating contributions from different specialties (the coupling of specialty modules) and designs of river landscapes (interchangeability of standard units of river nature, ecotopes). These are actually enabled by information technology and remote sensing The role of such technologies is another feature of recent changes in science.
|Award date||10 Dec 2008|
|Place of Publication||Enschede|
|Publication status||Published - 10 Dec 2008|