Personal profile page
Prof.dr.ir. W.E. Bijker
Professor of Technology and Society
- Faculty / Department
- Arts and Social Sciences, Technology & Society Studies
Phone number: +31 43 3883321
Location: 1.009, Grote Gracht 80-82
MUSTS research leader (Maastricht University Science, Technology and Society studies)
Wiebe E. Bijker is professor of Technology & Society at the University of Maastricht. He was trained as an engineer in applied physics (Technical University of Delft), studied philosophy (University of Groningen), and holds a PhD in the sociology and history of technology (University of Twente). Bijker is Director of Studies of the research master MPhil-degree programme Cultures of Arts, Science, and Technology (CAST).
Professional Career History
Bijker was President of the Society for Social Studies of Science (4S), and was director and chairman of the board of the Netherlands Research School on Science, Technology and Modern Culture (WTMC) and member of the Executive Council of the Society for the History of Technology (SHOT). He is founding co-editor of the monograph series "Inside Technology" of MIT Press and the book series "Science and Democracy in South Asia" of Orient Blackswan. Bijker helped to create, and was the first scientific coordinator of, the European master’s degree program on Society, Science and Technology (ESST), carried out by some 18 universities in 10 European countries.
Bijker’s research focuses on the relation between technology, society, and science. Since the 1990’s political and normative issues have been central in Bijker’s research. These are being studied in a variety of empirical domains: nanotechnologies, biotechnologies, ICT, gender and technology, public health policies, science & technology for developing nations, sustainable agriculture, public participation experiments, architecture and planning. His most recent work relates to issues of vulnerability in a technological culture — including the fundamental need for some vulnerability in an innovating society. Bijker chaired various Health Council’s committees on risks and benefits of nanotechnologies and biotechnologies. Much of his current work straddles the global north and south.
On 8th January 2009 Bijker delivered the keynote address at the occasion of the Diës Natalis (anniversary) of Maastricht University: can be downloaded from Research page.
Wiebe Bijker received the J.D Bernal Award 2006 and the Leonardo da Vinci medal 2012, and was knighted Officier in de Orde van Oranje Nassau in 2009.
- science and technology studies
- SCOT: social construction of technology
- science and technology policy
- research and technology for development
- gender & technlogy
- history of technology
Wiebe E. Bijker (1951) was educated as an engineer (physics) at Delft University of Technology, then studied philosophy of science at the Universities of Amsterdam and Groningen, and received a PhD in the history and sociology of technology from Twente University.
Partly parallel to his physics and philosophy education he taught physics in secondary school and co-authored a series of schoolbooks that combined physics, chemistry and biology. He was active in the ‘science, technology and society’ (STS) movement, and helped to translate its insights into secondary school science teaching. This interest in teaching continued, as witnessed by Bijker’s central role in designing the teaching programme of the Netherlands Graduate School of Science, Technology and Modern Culture (WTMC), in establishing the European Association on Society, Science and Technology (with its European MA programme ESST), in developing and teaching a separate line of history, philosophy and sociology of science in Maastricht University’s medical school, and in creating and directing the NVAO-accredited research master Cultures of Arts, Science and Technology (CAST). He has always continued some undergraduate teaching activities and responsibilities.
Bijker held a variety of administrative offices in Maastricht University, nationally, and internationally. He was Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (1996 – 2000) and he helped to establish the KNAW-Maastricht Virtual Knowledge Studio in 2007. Nationally he played key roles in the graduate school WTMC and in the creation of the KNAW Virtual Knowledge Studio (2002-2006). Internationally his Presidency of the Society for Social Studies of Science and various roles in the Society for the History of Technology stand out. (The numbers below [in square brackets] refer to the key publications.)
Bijker’s research took off from his interest in the relations between science, technology and society that already guided his studies in Delft and his involvement in secondary school science education. He used historical case studies (aluminium, bicycle, Bakelite, Sulzer weaving machine, transistor) to ask sociological questions about technology development. Bijker formulated in 1983 the ‘social construction of technology’ (SCOT) heuristics and theory . Joining forces with sociologists of science and historians of technology, this led to the 1987 volume The Social Construction of Technological Systems that came to be considered the beginning of ‘the new sociology of technology’ . In the 1990’s he broadened both the research agenda and the theoretical and empirical scope of technology studies . The research questions were broadened to also address normative and political issues of technology, science and society. Theoretically this required new conceptions of technological culture, power, democracy, and vulnerability. New strategic research sites for his empirical studies included health and medicine, town planning and architecture , gender and technology , sound studies, coastal engineering, and development studies. The successful demonstration by constructivist science and technology studies that knowledge and technology can be understood as social processes could easily—though erroneously— lead to the conclusion that anything goes and that there is nothing special about scientific knowledge or technical expertise. A detailed analysis of the inner workings of the Health Council of the Netherlands gives a new conceptualization of the role of scientific expertise in modern societies .
An important effect of the broadening of the research programme—and one in which new connections between research and teaching are emerging—is the engagement of technology studies with other scholarly disciplines (such as economics, political sciences , philosophy), and with practitioners (such as engineers and scientists), policy makers, and civil society groups. For his advisory work Bijker actively draws on his triple background in physics, philosophy, and history & sociology of technology. Especially in his chairing advisory committees of the Health Council of the Netherlands he is thus able to build bridges between the natural sciences and the humanities and social sciences. Recently granted EU projects aim deliberately at forging cooperation between the natural and social sciences.
In his Presidential Address to the Society for Social Studies of Science Bijker argued in 2001 for a new role of STS researchers as public intellectuals . Following the events of ‘9/11’ he helped to formulate new ways for science and technology studies of engaging with questions of security, risk and vulnerability  and with issues of development in the global south . This led to Bijker’s involvement in the formulation of new research programmes for NSF/ESF and the building up of a new research line in his research group in Maastricht. This engagement between academic work and the practices of science and technology for development is supported by his role as co-founder of the Knowledge in Civil Society Forum (KICS, Hyderabad, India) and by various EU-FP7 projects.
In 2006 Bijker received the John Desmond Bernal Prize, awarded jointly by the Society for Social Studies of Science and the Thomson Scientific, for his distinguished contribution to the field of science and technology studies. In 2009 he was appointed Officier in de Orde van Oranje Nassau. In October 2012 Bijker received the Leonardo da Vinci medal from the Society for the History of Technology (SHOT) which is awarded “to an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to the history of technology, through research, teaching, publications, and other activities.”
Interview (Spanish) by Bruno Massare in Clarin, Argentina's largest daily newspaper, in its Saturday magazine Ñ, Revista de Cultura: "De paso por Buenos Aires, uno de los fundadores de la nueva sociología de la tecnología, el holandés Wiebe Bijker, habló con Ñ sobre esta disciplina que impulsa la participación ciudadana en el debate sobre el desarrollo tecnológico. "No se pueden reducir las decisiones a científicos y políticos", sostiene."
Interview (Dutch) op Radio L1: In de aflevering van 7 juli 2013 spreekt Fons Geraets met Bijker over zijn bewondering voor de fiets, de kansen en gevaren van technologie, zijn theorie over sociaal-constructivisme, het academische klimaat en bijen. Ook komt Karin Bijsterveld, hoogleraar wetenschap, technologie en moderne cultuur, aan het woord.
- Interview in The Hindu, January 13, 2011, by Dr. R. Prasad on nanotechnology debates in the Netherlands
- Dies Natalis Rede 2009: samenvatting en verslag in Observant (Nederlands):
- Wiebe E. Bijker, "The Public and Issues of Science": Article on central op-ed page of The Hindu, 10th February 2011, on the Societal Dialogue on Nanotechnologies in The Netherlands
- Interview (in Nederlands) door Esther Thole in LEV, november 2009, over maatschappelijke aspekten van life sciences (deelcommissie Life Sciemce 2020)
- Knowledge Swaraj: An Indian Manifesto on Science and Technology: final result from European FP7 project SET-DEV, presented in conferences in Hyderabad, Nairobi and Brussels in March-April 2011
- Interview by Pankaj Sekhsaria in New India Today, 21st November 2010
- Interview of Wiebe Bijker by Shiv Visvanathan: a contribution to conversations between India and The Netherlands on how democracies can deal with the risks and benefits of emerging sciences and technologies, illustrated with the case of nanotechnologies
- Interview (in Nederlands) door Marion de Boo met Wiebe Bijker. Gepubliceerd in Synthese, NWO-Jaaroverzicht 2009
- Bijker, W. E. (2010). Technoscientific Dialogues. Expertise, Democracy and Technological Cultures. Tecnoscienza, 1(2), 121-140
- Lecture at the occasion of the Dies Natalis 2009 of Maastricht University, as delivered in the St. Johns Church on 8th January 2009
- Lecture at the occasion of the Dies Natalis of Maastricht University, as published (long vertsion with references)
- Joint interview by Femke Kools with Wiebe Bijker and Ranjit Pal Singh on CAST. Published in Maastricht University corporate brochure 2010
- FAQ about CAST research master, especially for students with BA
- FAQ about CAST research master, especially for students with a relevant one-year MA
- Brochure CAST research master (MPhil)
- Artikel in Observant (door Cleo Freriks; in Nederlands) over onderzoeksmasters aan Maastricht University
- Interview (Nederlands) in Jaarverslaag 2006 Gezondgeidsraad door Mieke de Waal
- Interview (Nederlands) door Anna Wolters in Mozaïek
- Interview (Nederlands) in NRC door Michiel van Nieuwstadt
- Interview (English) by Femke Kools, in Observant of 11 December 2008, on "What makes a good reseracher?"
- Interview (Nederlands) by Femke Kools, in Observant of 11 December 2008, on "What makes a good researcher?"
- Interview (English) by Irene Smeets in Observant
- Citation 2012 Leonardo da Vinci medal, SHOT, October 2012
- Brief CV in NSF format (4 pp)
- Full CV Wiebe Bijker
- Interview Observant (NL) over onderzoek 2007
- Interview Observant (NL) "Zing, Huil, Bid, Vecht, ...", Nov 2012
Disciplinary profile: historical and sociological studies of science and technology.
Core themes: theory and methodology of science and technology studies; democratisation of technological culture; vulnerability of technological culture; science and technology in Europe and for development; science and technology policies; ICT and the socio-cultural dimensions of the information society; gender and technology; water management, nanotechnology and biotechnology.
Society for Social Studies of Science (4S)
Society for the History of Technology (SHOT)
The Netherlands Graduate School of Science, Technology and Modern Culture (WTMC)
PRIME Network of excellence
Soundscapes and modern music atelier Intro / In situ
Nanopodium: Maatschappelijke dialoog over nanotechnologie (in Dutch: societal dialogue on nanotechnologies)
Website of the Nano-Dev project. The project researches nanotechnologies for development. Partners are in India, Kenya and the Netherlands. The project if funded by NWO-WOTRO (2010 - 2014)
- CAST (Cultures of Arts, Science, and Technology), a 2-year research master (MPhil): http://www.castresearchmaster.net/
- ESST (European Society, Science and Technology studies), a 1-year MA
- WTMC (Netherlands Graduate School for Science, Technology, and Modern Culture)
- UNU-Merit PhD programm: course "Social Construction of Technology for Develoment"
- Cultuurwetenschappen (Dutch BA)
- Arts and Culture (English BA)
"CAST is an interdisciplinary research master. If you have an inquisitive mind and are curious to find out how the world hangs together and how things work (or not); if you are open-minded and you are attracted by the adventure to explore the interrelations between philosophy, history, sociology, and arts theory; if you are creative in defining surprising problems, suggesting innovative solutions, and seeing fresh connections; if you have a passion for critical inquiry and debate — then CAST is the right programme for you."
WTMC: Netherlands Graduate Research School for STS
ESST master degree on European Science, Technology, and Society
CAST research master (MPhil): Cultures of Arts, Science, and Technology
Audio and reading files of the PhD course "Social Construction of Technology for Development" for UNU_Merit