Our SCALINGS partner, Brice Laurent from Mines ParisTech, has published a new journal article in Science as Culture.


Islands imaginaries are imaginaries of exception, in the dual sense that islands are seen as places like no others (exceptional territories) as well as sites of exceptions to known orders of things (territories of exceptions). In Singapore, these two modalities of exception play a key role in Smart Nation, a program launched by the government in 2014 which shapes the island as an exceptional place for technology-oriented experiments meant for business development. We call this type of experimental practice tech business experimentalism. We investigate how the Smart Nation innovation program, conceived of as an example of tech business experimentalism, defines Singapore as an exceptional territory and a territory of exceptions. By studying how turning the island into a test bed relies on a politics of exceptionality, we show that current analyses of experiments beyond the scientific laboratory have much to gain by examining two related aspects, namely the business orientation of experiments and the exceptions on which they are built. This approach allows us to discuss the transformation of Singapore’s territory, the processes whereby certain inhabitants (and not others) are turned into experimental subjects, and the re-definition of policy action as an ability to carve out material and regulatory exceptions.


Brice Laurent is a researcher at the Centre de Sociologie de l’Innovation (Mines ParisTech, PSL University). He is the author of Democratic Experiments : problematizing nanotechnology in Europe and the United States (2017, The MIT Press), European Objects : the troubled dreams of harmonization (forthcoming, The MIT Press), and co-editor, with Alexandre Mallard, of Labelling the economy : qualities and values in contemporary markets (2020, Palgrave).

Liliana Doganova is an Associate Professor at the Centre de sociologie de l’innovation (Mines-ParisTech, PSL University). At the intersection of economic sociology and Science and Technology Studies, her work has focused on business models, the valorization of public research and markets for bio- and clean-technologies. She has published in journals such as Economy and Society, the Journal of Cultural Economy, Research Policy, and Science and Public Policy.

Clement Gasull is a PhD candidate at the Centre de Sociologie de l’Innovation (Mines ParisTech, PSL University) and SENSE (Orange Labs). Drawing on Science and Technology Studies, his research investigates emerging forms of social order by examining network protocols in their innovation processes, scrutinizing computing and valuation operations.

Fabian Muniesa , a researcher at the Centre de Sociologie de l’Innovation (Mines ParisTech, PSL University), is the author of The Provoked Economy: Economic Reality and the Performative Turn (2014, Routledge) and the co-editor, with Kean Birch, of Assetization: Turning Things into Assets in Technoscientific Capitalism (2020, The MIT Press).

You can download the article here.