1 year ago

How science funding schemes deter the production of uncomfortable knowledge

February 2021 re-recording of abstract presentation by J.R. Bruning, at The Australian Sociological Association Conference, TASA, November 26, 2021.

Thematic Group: Risk Societies
Presentation: Innovation & Ignorance

Discussion on Masters research project which analysed policy discourse, particularly relating to how institutional norms of innovation and excellence shape the decision-making of funding panels in health research. Research then explored the experiences of physical (basic) scientists in attempting to secure funding for health research.

Key logics were identified that shepherded funding towards science that could be demonstrated as innovative, which displaced and downgraded non 'innovative' science. 'Innovation' is discussed. Interviews with institutional scientists demonstrated that scientific research exploring the environmental drivers of health and disease were frequently outside the 'innovation' scope defined by policy, and their funding proposals downgraded and unlikely to be funded.

This research may shed some light on the drivers underpinning a 30 year pattern of underinvestment in science exploring the drivers of health and disease by nation-state science funding schemes. This form of science is dwarfed by public investment in biomedical research, which is directed towards producing biomedical applications.

Link to TASA conference information:


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