Standardisation and social ordering: A change of perspective

Pablo Schyfter


This article examines standardisation in synthetic biology as a form of social coordination and ordering. I discuss standardisation by exploring what makes standards possible, and offer an understanding based on infrastructures: technical and social systems that support the existence and operation of accepted standards. By exploring the role of social infrastructures, I contend that standards depend upon social ordering: ways of arranging people in particular positions, relations, and hierarchies. I suggest that synthetic biologists ought to develop an awareness of these social orders, take responsibility for their creation, and accept accountability for their consequences, both technical and social.


synthetic biology; standards; infrastructures; social orders; responsibility

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