Intervention by Invitation: New Concerns and New Versions of the User in STS


  • Torben Elgaard Jensen


intervention, user-driven innovation, participatory design


Over the past three decades, STS has increasingly moved from a position of often ‘studying up’ to a position of often ‘being invited’ into scientifi c, technological and political projects. As a consequence, more and more STS researchers now find themselves having access not only to the sites, but also at times to the discussions and the decisions. With these new points of entry, the key question about intervention may no longer be if STS will be heard, but rather how the contributions from STS will combine with those of other participants in joint projects. The article investigates how Danish STS researchers were invited to intervene under the auspices of a national programme to promote user-driven innovation, and how they gradually developed new versions of the well-established conceptions of the users known from the STS literature. The new versions of the user raised higher hopes about the innovative potential of users, and evoked deeper fears about elusive publics and disloyal customers. Finally, the article considers the peculiar ‘middle management’ position that STS researchers may hold as mediators between users and projects, and it proposes the term ‘intervention-as-composition’ to designate the type of intervention that may result from mediating between previously unconnected actors.


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How to Cite

Jensen, T. E. (2012) “Intervention by Invitation: New Concerns and New Versions of the User in STS”, Science & Technology Studies, 25(1), pp. 13–36. doi: 10.23987/sts.55279.