The National Science Foundation's (NSF) role in, and influence on, the National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI) can best be understood through an examination of the NSF's history. Because of the NSF's weakened position at its founding in 1950 and obstacles faced throughout its history, the NSF developed a discursive strategy that focuses on making a causal link between support for basic science and societal benefits, and an operational strategy focused on growing its constituency through infrastructural support. The hallmarks of both of these strategies are present in the NNI.

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