Understanding 'anticipatory governance'

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

415 Scopus citations


Anticipatory governance is 'a broad-based capacity extended through society that can act on a variety of inputs to manage emerging knowledge-based technologies while such management is still possible'. It motivates activities designed to build capacities in foresight, engagement, and integration - as well as through their production ensemble. These capacities encourage and support the reflection of scientists, engineers, policy makers, and other publics on their roles in new technologies. This article reviews the early history of the National Nanotechnology Initiative in the United States, and it further explicates anticipatory governance through exploring the genealogy of the term and addressing a set of critiques found in the literature. These critiques involve skepticism of three proximities of anticipatory governance: to its object, nanotechnology, which is a relatively indistinct one; to the public, which remains almost utterly naïve toward nanotechnology; and to technoscience itself, which allegedly renders anticipatory governance complicit in its hubris. The article concludes that the changing venues and the amplification within them of the still, small voices of folks previously excluded from offering constructive visions of futures afforded by anticipatory governance may not be complete solutions to our woes in governing technology, but they certainly can contribute to bending the long arc of technoscience more toward humane ends.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)218-242
Number of pages25
JournalSocial Studies of Science
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2014


  • anticipatory governance
  • emerging technologies
  • foresight
  • nanotechnology
  • public engagement
  • responsible innovation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History
  • Social Sciences(all)
  • History and Philosophy of Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Understanding 'anticipatory governance''. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this