In the last few years developments in science and technology, namely in information technology, biomedicine and recently also nanotechnology, have increased. The social debate about the establishment of these technologies is characterised by an obvious fragmentation and plurality of assessments, opinions and represented interests. In this tense environment communicative conflicts become apparent. They show themselves in controversial discussions. Where complex matters are or were controversial in their interpretation, the linguistic constitution of these matters becomes vital. Public conflicts thus cannot only be understood to be a semantic struggle for adequate description, but is also a contest for the establishment of certain scientific and technological perspectives and their status in society.
Hence, the focal point of the subject area “science and technology” is the linguistic constitution of new technologies especially in disputes. Questions include, for example: How can scientists’ distinct linguistic strategies of action be described using exemplary texts? With what kinds of meaning accentuations or differing designations are technical discussions taken up, suppressed or constructed? How are technical and scientific terms between scientists affirmed, modified or made into stereotypes?
Especially in the case of newly developed technologies scientists have to struggle with various linguistic problems:
- The facts that have been developed in scientific research need to be described in a new context (e.g. in an everyday or political-administrative context).
- Moreover, the facts need to be named, which can be seen in the struggle for appropriate definitions, keywords and metaphors.
- The initial conceptual-linguistic framing and perspectivation of facts and model ideas can have serious consequences for the later social and public process of adaptation of a technology.