The Research Centre for Social Sciences (RCSS) was established by Frank Bechhofer in 1984 to promote high quality interdisciplinary social science research and host inter-disciplinary research on technology and on Scottish economic and social life. Robin Williams was recruited in 1986 to lead Edinburgh’s successful bid for a centre under the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) Programme on Information and Communication Technologies (PICT) (1987-1995). This built upon the social shaping of technology perspective developed at Edinburgh by Donald MacKenzie and Judy Wajcman in their book The Social Shaping of Technology, which extended to the study of technology methods from the sociology of scientific knowledge developed in the SSU.
With additional inputs from Martin Fransman (Economics), David Edge (SSU) and Jamie Fleck (Business Studies) a major programme of collaborative interdisciplinary research into technology developed with awards from ESRC, the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council and the European Union. Its focus subsequently broadened to include life science technologies with the successful bid for an ERSC Centre for Socioeconomic Research on Innovation in Genomics (Innogen, 2002-7 and 2007-12). A doctoral programme and a growing suite of postgraduate offerings were launched in collaboration with SSU.
[From Left: Martin Fransman, Barry Barnes and Robin Williams]
The growth of this interdisciplinary community led to the establishment of the Institute for the Study of Science, Technology and Innovation (ISSTI) in 2000.