Science and the Manufacture of a Political Order

A Sociological Study of the European Manned Space Programme


This chapter aims to question the function of science in the sustainment of a UE political power, based on mixed sociological methods. The European contribution to the International Space Station provides some relevant answers. First, I will introduce international collaboration patterns structuring the organization of science aboard the European research facility (“Columbus”), so as to define the context in which the European contribution took place, and the evolution of its space programme, which followed an increasing organizational standardization of space activities. The second section will focus precisely on the consequent organizational requisites for a political stability on the international space stage, highly dependent to the bureaucratic management of spaceflights, which also leads to a form of authoritarian governance of scientific processes. This central place of science in the conditions for political stability supposed that it constitutes axiological foundations for a legitimized occupation of outer space, without any call for strategic and military logics. The last section will then highlight the scientific roots of political mechanisms like nationalism from a critical sociological outlook, where science and its cultural authority facilitate the political integration and rhythm of power relationships in international affairs. In fine, our concern will be to measure how heuristic it would be to make scientific activity a part of the relationships of production which, in every Marxist theory of the State, structures the latter, preventing its reduction to a reified monolith.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Amin, Samir. 2001. Au-delà du capitalisme sénile: Pour un XXIe siècle non Américain, Paris: Presses Universitaires de France.Google Scholar
  2. Ancarani, Vittorio. 1995. Globalizing the world. In Handbook of science and technology studies, ed. Sheila Jasanoff et al. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.Google Scholar
  3. Arrighi, Giovanni. 1983. The geometry of imperialism: The limits of Hobson’s paradigm. New York: Verso.Google Scholar
  4. Bell, David, and Martin G. Parker. 2009. Space travel and culture: From Apollo to space tourism. Hoboken: Wiley-Blackwell.Google Scholar
  5. Bentouhami, Hourya. 2014. De Gramsci à Fanon: un marxisme décentré. Actuel Marx 55: 99–118.Google Scholar
  6. Bourdieu, Pierre. 1971. Genèse et structure du champ religieux. Revue française de sociologie 12: 295–334.Google Scholar
  7. Brice, Laurent. 2013. “Du laboratoire scientifique à l’ordre constitutionnel.” Analyser la représentation à la suite des études sociales des sciences. Raisons politiques 50: 137–155.
  8. Bukharin, Nikolai. 1934. Historical materialism: A system of sociology. New York: International Publishers.Google Scholar
  9. Chibber, Vivek. 2002. Bureaucratic rationality and the developmental state. American Journal of Sociology 107 (4): 951–989.Google Scholar
  10. Chibber, Vivek. 2003. Locked in place: State-building and late industrialization in India. Princeton: Princeton Univ. Press.Google Scholar
  11. Collins, Patricia, H. 2000. Black feminist thought: Knowledge, consciousness, and the politics of empowerment. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  12. de Solla Price, Derek. 1963. Little science, big science. New York: Columbia Univ. Press.Google Scholar
  13. Dickens, Peter. 2009. The cosmos as capitalism’s outside. Sociological Review 57: 66–82.Google Scholar
  14. Dickens, Peter, and Ormrod, James. 2007. Cosmic society: Toward a sociology of the universe. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  15. Durand, Cédric, and Razmig Keucheyan. 2013. Un césarisme bureaucratique: une lecture gramscienne de la crise Européenne. In En finir avec l’Europe, ed. Cédric Durand. Paris: La fabrique.Google Scholar
  16. Durand, Cédric, and Razmig Keucheyan. 2015. Financial hegemony and the unachieved European state. Competition and change 19 (2), 129–144.Google Scholar
  17. Elzinga, Aant, and Andrew Jamison. 1995. Changing policies agendas in science and technology. In Handbook of science and technology studies, ed. Sheila Jasanoff et al. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.Google Scholar
  18. Galison, Peter. 1987. How experiments end. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  19. Gauchat, Gordon. 2011. The cultural authority of science: Public trust and acceptance of organized science. Public understanding of science 20 (6): 751–770.Google Scholar
  20. Gramsci, Antonio. 1978–1992. Cahiers de prison. 5 vol. Paris: Gallimard.Google Scholar
  21. Granjou, Céline. 2003. L’expertise scientifique à destination politique. Cahiers internationaux de sociologie 114: 175–183.
  22. Harvey, Brian. 2003. Europe’s space programme. To Ariane and beyond. London: Springer.Google Scholar
  23. Harvey, David. 1982. The limits to capital. Oxford: Basil Blackwell.Google Scholar
  24. Harvey, David. 2003. The new imperialism. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.Google Scholar
  25. Irwin, Alan, and Brian Wynne. 1996. Misunderstanding science? The public reconstruction of science and technology. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press.Google Scholar
  26. Jasanoff, Sheila. 2012. Science and public reason. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  27. Joerges, Bernward, and Terry Shinn, eds. 2001. Instrumentation between science, state and industry. Dordrecht: Kluwer.Google Scholar
  28. Madsen, Claus. 2010. Scientific Europe: Policies and politics of the European Research Area. London: Multi-Science Pub.Google Scholar
  29. Nagel, Thomas. 1989. The view from nowhere, Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.Google Scholar
  30. Omodeo, Pietro, D. 2016. After Nikolai Bukharin: History of science and cultural hegemony at the threshold of the Cold War era. History of the Human Sciences, 29 (4-5): 13–34.Google Scholar
  31. O’Sullivan, John. 2016. In the footsteps of Columbus: European missions to the International Space Station. New York: Springer.Google Scholar
  32. Pollock, Ethan. 2006. Stalin and the Soviet science wars. Princeton: Princeton Univ. Press.Google Scholar
  33. Poulantzas, Nicos. 1972. Pouvoir politique et classes sociales, II, Paris: Maspero.Google Scholar
  34. Poulantzas, Nicos. (1978) 2000. State, power, socialism. London: Verso.Google Scholar
  35. Salomon, Jean-Jacques. 1973. Science and politics. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  36. Shapin, Steven, and Simon Schaffer. 1985. Leviathan and the air-pump. Hobbes, Boyle, and the experimental life. Princeton: Princeton Univ. Press.Google Scholar
  37. Slijper, Franck. 2005. The emerging EU military-industrial complex. Arms industry lobbying in Brussels. Transnational Institute Briefing Series 1.Google Scholar
  38. Starr, Paul. 1982. The social transformation of American medicine. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  39. United Nations. 1979. Agreement governing the activities of states on the Moon and other celestial bodies. New York.Google Scholar
  40. United Nations. 2002. Treaties and principles on outer space. New York: United Nations Press.Google Scholar
  41. Wilson, James, Q. 1989. Bureaucracy: What government agencies do and why they do it. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Fachmedien Wiesbaden GmbH 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Université de Bordeaux, Centre Émile DurkheimBordeauxFrance

Personalised recommendations