Annotated Bibliography

Jonathan Banda: Feminist Critiques of Science and STS

Keller, Evelyn Fox, and Helen E. Longino, editors. Feminism and Science. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996.

This edited volume includes essays from feminist scholars centered around for major categories or themes: Early statements (or “preliminary” statements) regarding the scope of problems that a feminist science studies could address, representations of sex and gender in science, the role of language in the representation of gender and difference in science, and feminist approaches to the philosophy of knowledge. As a whole, the the essays aim to explore the role of gender ideology in diverse domains of science and aim to reenvision knowledge and objectivity. Looking to the future of feminist science studies, the editors propose two areas of inquiry: the role of language in the physical sciences (the essays address the biological sciences) and the connections between gender, race and postcolonial ideologies in the sciences. The essays in the volume were chosen “in an effort to represent the theoretical dimensions of feminist science studies to date” (12), and the volume therefore represents one historical vision of feminist science studies at the time (1996).

Haraway, Donna. Primate Visions: Gender, Race, and Nature in the World of Modern Science. New York: Routledge, 1989.

In Primate Visions, Haraway deconstructs the historical practice of primatology by analyzing text books, journal articles, film, literature, photography, and other cultural artifacts. She notes: “The argument of this book is that primatology is an Order, a taxonomic and therefore political order that works by the negotiation of boundaries achieved through ordering differences” (10). Haraway addresses the problem of scientific objectivity by conceptualizing scientific practice as narrative, or “story-telling,” utilizing interpretation and testimony to construct a narrative about the history of the natural world. One of the most influential works of feminist science studies, Haraway’s work is notable in its interdisciplinary and engagements with other theoretical frameworks, such as postcolonial theory and critical race theory to argue that the field of primatology has been reflective of the social order and dominant human categories of difference.

Harding, Sandra. The Science Question in Feminism. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1986.

In The Science Question in Feminism, Harding provides an overview and critique of feminist approaches to epistemology in science studies, describing a movement from “the woman question in science,” which advocated for the visibility of female scientists to “the science question in feminism,” which critiques the gendered norms in the production of scientific knowledge. She lays out three main epistemological approaches to the study of science: feminist empiricism (which argues for the reduction of bias in science), feminist standpoint theory (which argues that feminist politics and approaches to knowledge production have an privileged “standpoint” on social reality), and concluding by proposing a feminist postmodernist approach that would reject the notion of any privileged viewpoint in favor of a multiplicity of perspectives, none of which can claim to be objective or universal. Harding’s work is important in its attempt to the capture an overview of feminist theories of science at the time (1986) and to develop a feminist approach that would critique a masculinist science while better approximating the fragmented postmodern condition.

Bleier, Ruth, editor. Feminist Approaches to Science. New York: Teachers College Press, 1986.

This edited volume includes nine papers, most of which were presented at a symposium (Feminist Perspectives on Science) held at the University of Wisconsin, Madison in April 1985. Several essays address the exclusion of women from science, and the rest examine scientific knowledge itself via feminist approaches. She ends her essay by calling for a feminist science that would benefit instead of oppress, one that would seek diversity, and one that would be accessible and recognize the limits and partiality of its knowledge. This volume is important to the history of STS in its discussion of the relationship between feminist science studies and the sociology of scientific knowledge. In her introductory essay, Bleier questions why scholars of SSK seem oblivious to the the body of feminist scholarship that contributes to the field and have not recognized gender as a significant factor in their work.

Clarke, Adele E. and Virginia Olesen, editors. Revisioning Women, Health and Healing: Feminist, Cultural and Technoscience Perspectives. New York: Routledge. 1999.

This volume is a collection of papers presented at a research conference on women’s health at the University of California-San Francisco in 1995, twenty years after the first such conference in the US was held. The conference papers aim to “radically revision” feminist perspectives on health and healing to include more recent developments in feminist theory, cultural studies, and technoscience studies. The volume is of note for the history of STS in the editors’ call for a renewed critique of biomedicine. One of the central themes of the volume is the role of science and technology with medicine, which, the editors note, had been largely ignored until recently by feminists. They identify several key areas of potential research: reproductive sciences, alternative medicine, and surveillance medicine and genomics. Adele Clarke and her colleagues would continue this line of research at UCSF, expanding the role of the study of biomedical knowledge and technology within the field of STS.
___

Katelyn Kuhl: Recent Literature Regarding STS Engagement in Policy

  • Bijker, Weibe. “Pre-Presidential Address, The Need for Public Intellectuals: A Space for STS.” Science, Technology, and Human Values 28, no. 4 (Autumn 2003): 443-50.

Bijker argues that there are three routes for STS: 1) the “Academic Highway;” 2) the “Policy-Street;” and 3) Bijker’s third way “Democratization Boulevard” “on which studies are carried out that combine long-term academic agendas with clear political and societal engagement.” (449) While Bijker supports all three of these routes, his emphasis is on STS scholars engaging with the broader world as public intellectuals. Not simply focused on policy, Bijker wants STS to address a variety of audiences including the media, politicians, local groups, and the general public. Bijker sees the role of STSers in the world as both engineers of change and scholars that conduct in-depth studies that reflect back to subjects new and unexplored ideas and viewpoints. “I would argue that STSers should be the public intellectuals of the next decade…” (446) Bijker advocates for a well rounded STS field that includes both standard scholarship and public and policy engagement.

  • Pielke Jr., Roger A. The Honest Broker: Making Sense of Science in Policy and Politics. United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press, 2007.

Pielke Jr.’s book is another STS perspective on how scientists should engage with policy questions. Using STS frameworks, Pielke Jr. advocates for scientists to act as honest brokers providing politicians and policy makers a broad spectrum of policy options. His analysis is based on a critique of the linear model of scientific development. The linear model, he argues, contributes to by a belief that more information, less scientific uncertainty, will eventually force policymakers to come to a consensus matching the scientists’ position. This, Pielke Jr. argued, has resulted in scientists becoming “stealth issue advocates.” Scientists are dangerously politicizing their work, institutions, journals and societies. Pielke Jr.’s work has been the subject of debates and forceful critique.

  • Jasanoff, Sheila. Review of The Honest Broker: Making Sense of Science in Policy and Politics, by Roger A. Pielke Jr. American Scientist 96, no. 3 (May-June 2008): 240-43.

In reviewing Pielke Jr.’s book “The Honest Broker: Making Sense of Science in Policy and Politics,” Dr. Jasanoff provides two main critiques. First, Jasanoff critiques Pielke Jr.’s treatment of policy questions as a dichotomy between two fixed types. “In the field of science and technology studies has shown that the dividing line between forms of political engagement is not fixed…Many choices that were once regarded as matters of lifestyle or values alone have been converted into choices that are now constrained by things we know.” (242) Secondly, Jasanoff disagrees with Pielke Jr.’s opinion that science advisors should expand the scope of choices. “Science does not always serve the public interest best by widening the scope of policy choice.” (242) Jasanoff’s review reflects a debate within the STS community of how STS should engage in policy issues.

  • Sarewitz, Daniel. "Does Science Policy Matter?" Issues in Science and Technology 23, no. 4 (Summer 2007).

Sarewitz argues that the U.S. does not have a science policy. Instead, there are scientific budget debates that have no actual effect. Sarewitz provides an overview of the science and technology research and development budgets from the last fifty years and argues that R&D funding, as a percentage of the government, has essentially stayed flat. This is because the questions being asked and the debates over funding were about “how much” and not actually addressing what science is for. If these “what for” questions were asked, S&T budgets wouldn’t simply reflect the status quo. Sarewitz reflects a new focus in STS that attempts to be both immensely practical (drawing attention to budget questions), yet also transformative in his focus on inequity and values. He seeks to move away or beyond “predictions of either the direction of scientific advance or the complex interactions between science and society.” and set a new course for STS low church.

  • Richard F., Hirsh. “Historians of Technology in the Real World: Reflections On the Pursuit of Policy-Oriented History.” Technology and Culture 52, no. 1 (January 2011): 6-20.

Dr. Hirsh advocates for Historians of Technology to engage policy questions and use their academic qualifications to shape technical policy. There are two main reasons for historians of technology to engage policy 1) technology is critically important to society. Historians of technology can help policymakers understand technology better so that they can manage technology better; 2) Historians of technology have a useful set of STS tools, including systems approaches and SCOT, that “can help policymakers develop a deeper (and practically oriented) understanding of why certain technologies may succeed or fail.” (14) Despite the relevance of history of technology, policymakers rarely utilize their expertise. Dr. Hirsh argues that this is because of academics unwillingness to present their information in formats that policy makers would read and prefer to simply write for other academics. Dr. Hirsh concludes that to further connect history of technology, he and his colleagues should support real-world application in their classes, serve as consultants, and become the policymakers themselves. This article provides a practical argument for why and how STS and STS methods and tools should be used to engage with policy making.

___

Ariel Ludwig - Drawing Disciplinary Boundaries: a Case Study of Criminal Justice Technology Studies

Foucault, Michel. Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison. Second Vintage Books Edition, 1995.

Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison is Foucault’s history of the Western penal system (Alfred, 2000). It opens with a graphic scene of torture and traces the shifts and penal practices and inventions. Eventually, the changing prison makes room for the modern, “disciplinary society” (Ransom, 1997). This work also addresses “techniques of control,” including the panopticon (introduced by Bentham) that have broad implications today (Foucault et al., 1991).
Beyond the specific contents of this book, it also marks Foucault’s shift from archaeologies to genealogies (May, 2006). Genealogies are frameworks that remove the progressive or step-wise inevitabilities that were relied upon heavily in histories until that point (Koopman, 2013). This form is important to Science and Technologies Studies because it removes the linear, teleological framework that served as the primary mechanism for constructing historical accounts of science and technology.

References:

Alford, C. Fred. 2000. What would it matter if everything Foucault said about prison were wrong? "discipline and punish" after twenty years. Theory and Society 29, (1): 125-146.

Koopman, Colin. 2013. Genealogy as critique: Foucault and the problems of modernity. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

Foucault, Michel, Graham Burchell, Colin Gordon, and Peter Miller. 1991. The foucault effect: Studies in governmentality : With two lectures by and an interview with michel foucault. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

May, Todd. 2006. The Philosophy of Foucault. Chesham, Bucks: Acumen.

Ransom, John S. 1997. Foucault's discipline: The politics of subjectivity. Durham [N.C.]: Duke University Press.

Foucault, Michel. The Birth of the Clinic: An Archaeology of Medical Perception. Vintage Books, 1975.
The Birth of the Clinic, one of Foucault’s earlier works, begins by contextualizing the rise of the body as the site of pathology. Foucault traces the shifts in nosology, as the categorization of illness shifted based on the profession/ practice and discipline of medicine (). Broadly, this work charts the history of both the early medical profession and the rise of the hospital as an institution (Loudon, 1974). This includes the story of the how medicine developed into a dominant framework through the establishment and policing of its professional boundaries. One of the most influential concepts that arises from this text is the medical gaze, which refers to the objectification of bodies in order to read them for their pathologies (Rendell, 2004). Thus, The Birth of the Clinic reveals the ways that knowledge influences perception, which is often presumed to be objective. Foucault ties the emergence of the medical gaze to the didactic use of autopsies in training doctors. Ultimately, this text holds a place in the STS cannon not only because of its implications for those engaged in the study of bodies and health, but also because of its approach to interrogating the formation (and reformation) of fields with the drawing and redrawing of disciplinary boundaries.

References:
Loudon, J. B. 1974. Foucault, M. "the birth of the clinic" (book review). Vol. 9. London: Royal Anthropological Institute.

May, Todd. 2006. The Philosophy of Foucault. Chesham, Bucks: Acumen.

Rendell, Joanne. 2004. A testimony to muzil: Hervé guibert, foucault, and the medical gaze. Journal of Medical Humanities 25 (1): 33-45.

Latour, Bruno. 2005. Reassembling the social: An introduction to actor-network-theory. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press.
In Reassembling the Social, Latour sets out to reconceptualize sociology, moving it from the “science of society” towards a “tracing of associations” (Latour, 2005). Latour casts his theory as the latest iteration of sociology redefined as “a science accounting for how society is held together, instead of using society to explain something else or to help solve one of the political questions of the time” (Latour, 2005). Here, Latour delineates actor-network-theory (ANT), a critical sociology that made the “objects of science and technology” socially-compatible (Latour, 2005). This relational approach to human and non-human actants was revolutionary as technologies began to be read as components of social networks (). In Reassembling the Social Latour engenders a “multi-dimensional reality” that requires representation that highlights connections (binding and unbinding over time) and complexity (Jackson, 2015; Latour, 2005). ANT has been integrated as an important tool in Science and Technologies Studies and has stimulated a tremendous amount of discourse that has served to further shape this multidisciplinary field.

References:
Latour, Bruno. 2005. Reassembling the social: An introduction to actor-network-theory. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press.

Jackson, Sharon. 2015. Toward an analytical and methodological understanding of actor-network theory. Journal of Arts and Humanities 4 (2): 29.

Wacquant, Loïc J. D. 2009. Punishing the poor: The neoliberal government of social insecurity. English language ed. Durham [NC]: Duke University Press.

In Punishing the Poor, Wacquant contextualizes the contemporary criminal justice system (CJS) in the United States (U.S.) within the context of neoliberalism. Wacquant states that the purpose of this book is to create a “rough sketch” of the CJS “as its main figures and springs can help us discern the evolving contours of the transformation of the state in the age of economic deregulation and social insecurity that is the empirical topic of this book and set out the parameters of the analytic agenda the latter pursues” (Wacquant, 2009).
While the use of technology and science as artifacts that provide information about a particular political or economic context is not new, Waquant’s subject and the skill with which he conducts the analysis makes this an important work. In this text the subjects are the technologies of control and oppression that are deployed against specific subsets of the population (Weiman, 2010). In this context technologies are complex amalgamations of devices, laws, enforcement mechanisms, correctional facilities, etc. This approach has important implications for studies of science and technology in the context of neoliberalism.

References

Wacquant, Loïc J. D. 2009. Punishing the poor: The neoliberal government of social insecurity. English language ed. Durham [NC]: Duke University Press.

Weiman, David F. 2010. Review: Punishing the poor: The neoliberal government of social insecurity, by loïc wacquant. durham, NC: Duke university press, 2009 (english language edition). 384pp. $24.95 paper. ISBN: 9780822344223. Contemporary Sociology: A Journal of Reviews 39 (4): 489-91.

___

Russ Rochte
STS 5424
29 Sep 2015
Annotated Bibliography – Beginning to inform the nexus between Science and Religion

Bowler, Peter J., and Iwan Rhys Morus. Making Modern Science: A Historical Survey. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2005.
Making Modern Science was written to provide a “suitable textbook to accompany newly organized survey courses in the history of science” (vii). Bowler, professor emeritus of the history of science at Queen’s University (Belfast), and Morus, Lecturer in history at the University of Wales (Aberystwyth), provide an episodic description of how science, and the related history of science, have been argued and constructed in the modern period. It does not present a grand, sweeping narrative from the Scientific Revolution to the present, but rather analyzes a series of discrete episodes (ranging from Copernicus to the present) and important themes (from the Organization of Science to Science and Gender) in two distinct parts. Throughout the book, the authors are at pains to note how historians’ interpretations of the development of modern science have changed over the years. Doing so, they present two interwoven themes: that science is always a product of a specific time and place; and that, because of this, the history of science should seek to understand science in relation to its context, and not in relation to present beliefs or to an allegedly timeless standard of truth – both of which make for good STS interpretations of the tale. Regrettably, there are some problems with the book. In their concern to locate scientific progress in time and place, they go out of their way to avid any notion that anything unique may have happened at a certain time and place that allowed for the development of a new next step. Curiously, they do not spend time examining the post-World War II developments of organizations, and almost ignore the changes wrought by the digital revolution. Most bothersome is the authors’ reliance on historiography at best some twenty years older than their own monograph. Like most other texts, there are occasional errors of fact overlooked by both the authors and their editors. Sadly, for a survey text the illustrations are few, and seldom add meaningfully to the text, but these demerits can be overlooked for the sake of the scope of the book.

Calhoun, Craig, et al., eds. Classical Sociological Theory, 2nd Edition. Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2007.
One of several entries in Blackwell’s Readers in Sociology Series, Classical Sociological Thought 2nd Edition, offers short excerpts from fourteen different sociological theorists, offering a “theoretical canon” of sorts arranged in six sections. Each theorist receives a short introductory essay, followed by illustrative excerpts from their works. Marx and Engels receive the most attention by page count, followed by Durkheim and Weber. The rest (Mead, Simmel, Freud, Du Bois, Mannheim, Horkheimer, Benjamin, Adorno, Marcuse, Parsons, and Merton) are organized thematically in the second half of the volume. The most curious thing about this book is that Calhoun, a renown scholar, shares editorial credit with five co-editors who are each rather junior scholars - all very recently removed from graduate studies under the senior editor. The volume is followed by an available Contemporary Sociological Theory, also in a 2nd edition, and edited by the same team scholars.

Latour, Bruno, Science in Action: How to Follow Scientists and Engineers Through Society. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1987.
Science in Action, a book intended for British university students (by a French author), covers the development of natural history (speaking broadly) from the seventeenth to the nineteenth century. Latour focuses on the “conscious agent” who actively and intentionally tries to extend the necessary “networks of alliance” that might force others to privilege the conscious agent’s claims of knowledge over any alternatives from other claimants. This process, according to Latour, is how claims become knowledge. Thus, there is no inside and outside of the laboratory for Latour – science happens and is developed everywhere. In Latour’s explanation, science is not a reflection of society. Rather, Latour re-imagines a sociology of associations, whereby actors empower (or disempower) other actors – forming alliances, establishing networks, and creating “action at a distance.” The book is organized into three sections. Part One concerns scientific texts and laboratories (and the inherent controversies). There are always two competing versions of discovery available – the relativist and the realist – and scientists can often assert both versions when making their claims. But it remains that “Nature” is the great inviolable principle. In Part Two, Latour argues that rather than privileging “society” as the explanation for how science works, “society” is, itself, the outcome of settling scientific controversies. Explaining that scientists and engineers themselves use social theories to advance their work, Latour asserts that “society” should not, therefore, be used to explain the outcomes. In Part Three, the explanation of Actor Network Theory is filled in with examples of more or less powerful networks and how to build them. Latour develops the idea of scientific culture as a network of associations focused on the relationship between science, technology, and society, in which the human and the object are treated as equal and the production of knowledge in the driving force in culture.

Lindberg, David C. The Beginnings of Western Science: The European Scientific Tradition in Philosophical, Religious, and Institutional Context, Pre-History to A.D. 1450. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2007.
Lindberg’s The Beginnings of Western Science commences with the Egyptians and Babylonians, and carries through to the late fourteenth century. In doing so, Lindberg attempts to make the entire sweep of early science comprehensible to the average reader. Most helpfully, he incorporates considerable cultural, institutional, and social history in order to provide a rich context for each period and scientific development. Of special value to STS and history of science students is Lindberg’s serious treatment of Islamic science during the period covered in the book. The treatments in every chapter are descriptive and qualitative, to the unfortunate end that the book lacks deep contact with the “science” itself, but this approach was, in fact, for the purpose of making the monograph more readable by a wider audience. Yet he does not shy from controversial claims: for example, that the customary reference to the period between the fall of Rome and the Italian Renaissance as “dark ages” is not at all supported by the available historical evidence. Likewise, Lindberg argues that the medieval Church was not “broadly anti-intellectual.” Rather than oppose developments in science, its mission “did not include the suppression of scientific investigations and ideas (149). Lindberg shows an experienced historian’s skill in handling both primary sources and secondary literature, and the merger is a very readable account.

Turner, Stephen. “Merton’s “Norms” in Political and Intellectual Context.” Journal of Classical Sociology 7, no.2, (July 2007): 161-178.
Turner’s article helpfully provides the then-current socio-political background to Robert Merton's 1938 and 1942 articles in defense of science during an intense period of political activity. Turner explains that Merton used tools from classical sociology to argue that, irrespective of claims to the contrary by the Left, science was already intensely policed internally (by the now-famous CUDOS: Communalism, Universalism, Disinterestedness, and Organized Skepticism), but threatened by the conflict between its special ethos and the political demands of the period. Merton’s reasoning was based upon the assertion that science and politics each had a different ethos. Turner explores the political arguments and cultural details of 1938-1942, framing Merton’s famous “A Note on Science and Democracy” as a response to the political “crisis” over science involving challenges from the Communist Left in Britain and the Nazi uses and control of science.

Rich Hilberer - Internet Technologies and activism in the modern public sphere

Benkler, Yochai. 2006. "Chapter 7 Political Freedom Part 2: Emergence of the Networked Public Sphere." In The Wealth of Networks How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom, 212-272. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

Although the entire book is a worthy resource for understanding the role of internet technologies in shaping network society, this chapter is selected because it provides a concise discussion of three important topics in the study of the internet as a tool of political freedom. In this lengthy chapter he addresses the evolution of the internet as a tool for free political speech, the idea of the internet as the modern public sphere and how these two aspects interact with the reality of the networked information economy. The result is both acknowledgement of the internet as a tool to shift power relationships by providing more democratic information exchange and a critique of the utopian assumption that the internet would be the panacea to all of the world’s injustices by making everyone a pamphleteer. Benkler's point is that the realities of the relationships between mass media and the broader networked economy work to dampen the independent voices of individuals. The reality of the democratizing affect of the internet is it allows anyone to participate in the conversation in the global public sphere.

Castells, Manuel. 2004. "Informationalism, Networks and the Network Society: A Theoretical Blueprint." In The Network Society: a Cross-cultural Perspective, edited by Manuel Castells. Northampton, MA: Edward Elgar.

This article predates Castells' seminal three volume series The Information Age: Economy, Society, and Culture. Certainly the series is highly recommended, particularly Volume 1, for any STS scholar interested the nature of the large technological system that is the networked society. However, this article is a concise description of the underlying theory of the power relationships that drive the network society. Castells defines the characteristics of network society and the nature of power and counter power in the network. In his description of the network society he draws a contrast to the often described information society which he believes is to deterministic and ignores the global social changes the shift to the network society created. At the core, this article is an excellent introduction to a more detailed analysis of how power is applied and countered in the Network Society and a useful tool for understanding and describing the technology of the internet and society interact.

Coleman, E. Gabriella. Hacker, Hoaxer, Whistleblower, Spy: The Many Faces of Anonymous. New York: Verso, 2014.

This recently published work by anthroplogist Gabriella Coleman is an unprecedented ethnography of the people behind the eponymous mask of Anonymous. Stemming from her doctora thesis, Coleman gains amazing access to hackers, hoaxers, phreakers and trolls that count themselves as part of Anonymous. The work is controversial in part due to the pontential criminality of some of the activities and the legitimacy of her role in these actiities. However, the book provides anenlightening and in some cases sobering view of a group that many academics and a significant portion of the public see as heroes. Most importantly it raises real questions about the nature of the modern public sphere. It highlights that the public sphere has never been a utopian forum of unhindered free speech supporting democratic virtues . It is also a forum for churlish attacks and various forms of unsavory behavior covered by the acts of relatively few that actually choose to stand greater freedom and government transparency.

Jordan, Tim. 2008. Hacking: Digital Media and Technological Determinism, Digital Media and Society Series. Cambridge: UK: Polity Press.

Tim Jordan is a sociologist and one of the few authors that looks at the internet as a technological system that is socially shaped and shapes society in the tradition of Thomas Hughes. Building on the work of Janet Abbate, the seminal work by Steven Levy and others; Jordan follows the work of the early hackers through to contemporary times to understand hacking as a social phenomenon. Jordan starts at thevery basics by defining the hack in technological terms but also in social terms and as a social activity. He also takes Levy's categories of hackers and refines them to get at the social drivers of the activities of those categories. Jordan also looks at how the hacker ethic evolved into a number of social movements that include the free software and open source movement, cypherpunk movement and varitions of hacktivism. In this short work Jordan decomposes these movements and then recomposes them into a single group, hackers. In the process he makes the point that although hackers certainly react to the technology they also shape the technology to their own social imperatives and are ultimately shaping society.

McCaughey, Martha, and Michael D. Ayers, eds. Cyberactivism: Online Activism in Theory and Practice. New York: Routledge, 2003.

In this edited volume, McCaughey and Ayers apply their broad based backgrounds to develop an equally broad based look at grass roots digital activism in some of its many forms. The value of this resource is that it provides an overview in one text of the various actors and methods involved digital activism through several historical examples. The authors of the chapters are selected to reflect a variety of philosophical methodological approaches through these examples. The result is broadening of the perception of what digital activism in the modern public sphere can look like and accomplish. For example, the editors use these diverse approaches to describe cyberactivsim through case studies of global support of the Zapatista movement, resistance to neoliberalism as instantiated in the World Trade Organization. Using these case studies this volume provides a relatively concise one volume synopsis of the use of digital media to give voice, on a global scale, to grass roots social movements.

Anita Mbogoni - Medicine and the Demarcation Problem: Is Medicine Science?

  • Gieryn, Thomas F. "Boundary-Work and the Demarcation of Science from Non-Science: Strains and Interests in Professional Ideologies of Scientists." American Sociological Review 48, no. 6 (1983): 781-95. Accessed September 29, 2015. http://www.jstor.org/stable/2095325.

Gieryn analyzes the demarcation of science from non-science as a “practical” problem that scientists face, rather than as an “analytical” problem, as it is described by philosophers and sociologists of science. He argues that boundary work in demarcating science from various forms of non-science is crucial to the establishment of “intellectual authority” by scientists over practitioners of non-scientific pursuits, such as psychics. Gieryn then explores the gradual evolution of the practice of demarcation, citing three examples of scientists from different eras working to demarcate their work from the work of, for instance, the Church or engineers. He reiterates the importance for scientists to demarcate their work from non-scientific work, in order to avoid the blame for “undesirable consequences” of the use of scientific knowledge by non-scientists, and discusses some of the impacts that the protection of this knowledge has on society.

Merton describes science as a social institution that is both a part of society, and apart from society. He discusses an “ethos of science” that comprises four norms that he believes scientists use to govern themselves, and to validate science as an activity: universalism, communalism, disinterestedness, and organized skepticism. For Merton, these norms allow scientists to respond to criticism from non-scientists regarding the organization and legitimacy of their practices; if science does, indeed, adhere to this normative structure, then it makes it easier for scientists to justify their work as falling within the norms used to govern science and scientists. According to Merton, this allows science to be a “self-validating” institution that is “in society but not of it” by influencing society, while being immune from large amounts of criticism from it.

Panda asks the question of whether medicine is “art based on science,” or whether it is a “pure” or “applied” science, rather than an art form. His argument in favor of medicine as an art is that medicine has “evolved” over time, based on changes in cultural “values and intuition,” and that there are some cultures where medical practice does not rely on scientific knowledge at all as it does in the West; these cultures, Panda explains, rely instead on “humanistic qualities,” such as common sense. Conversely, Panda claims that medicine is a science, because it is based on scientific knowledge in many cases, and that this allows medicine to change as scientific knowledge evolves. He then discusses an “art of medicine,” which incorporates scientific knowledge into medical practice, but also allows physicians to use this knowledge to exercise their own discretion, and that of the patient, to determine the best treatment.

Popper poses the question of whether there is a single criterion that qualifies a theory as scientific. He suggests that this criterion is falsifiability; to Popper, a scientific theory is demarcated from a non-scientific theory by its ability to be proven wrong, and thereby superseded by a new theory. He warns of the danger of only looking for verifications of scientific theories, and of dismissing those who question a theory as unwilling to see the “manifest truth” of a theory. Popper also asserts that “genuine” tests of any scientific theory should aim to refute the theory, and that the more rigorously a theory is tested – and the more things it prohibits, rather than permits – the stronger the theory is. He cites astrology as an example of a non-scientific field, because the “vague” claims that astrologers make can be applied to almost any situation, and cannot be properly tested or falsified; and cites Einstein’s gravitational theory as an example of a theory that can be falsified, and is therefore scientific.

  • Saunders, John. "The Practice of Clinical Medicine as an Art and as a Science." Western Journal of Medicine 26, no. 1 (2000): 18-22. Accessed September 29, 2015. http://mh.bmj.com/content/26/1/18#BIBL.

Saunders makes a very succinct claim that “medicine as we practise it today is applied science,” and explains that science is supposed to teach physicians to apply objective scientific knowledge in a “rational” manner. However, Saunders also argues that, while science plays a vital role in medical education and practice, physicians also rely heavily on subjective value judgments in their interactions with patients. He frames medicine as both an art and a science, and asserts that it is impossible to separate these two methods of viewing medicine. Saunders points to the randomized control trial as an example of scientific practices used in medicine. He then argues that medicine is simultaneously an art form because – while physicians are taught to use their scientific knowledge, and to strive for universality in their interactions with patients – this is often impossible, because of physicians’ reliance on their own personal experiences, and on those of their patients, in making decisions regarding patient care.

- - - - - - - - - -
Lisa Shaler-Clark: User-Shaped Innovation and Risk

Bijker, Wiebe E., Thomas P. Hughes, and Trevor Pinch, editors. The social construction of technological systems: New directions in the sociology and history of technology. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2012.

This interdisciplinary collection of essays advances Science and Technology Studies (STS) as a practice, serving as a core text for students. The related essays advocate and advance exploration of Social Construction of Technology (SCOT) by combining methodological description and case studies. Thomas Hughes outlines the evolution of large socio-technological systems, which move beyond the level of being wholly understood or testable by single individuals. He describes how technology shapes social groups, and social groups shape technology. Trevor Pinch and Wiebe Bijker compare using SCOT to understand technology artifacts, as the sociology of science helped illuminate how scientific facts are created and interpreted. They introduce core SCOT concepts including artifacts including techniques of use; interpretative flexibility; relevant social groups; and how technologies are used for problem solving. Using examples of early bicycle designs, they show how closure in understanding a technology can be achieved through rhetorical closure or by the groups redefining the problem. Their case study of a series of bicycle designs, artifacts used and understood differently by different social groups, describes how the bicycle plus its use plus the meaning ascribed to each design evolved socially. Langdon Winner strongly criticized SCOT for loosely defining the “relevant social group,” focusing too much on the origins, and for merely describing the socio-technical artifacts, rather than taking a moral stance on the social consequences of design, meaning, and use of socio-technical systems.

Callon, Michel, Pierre Lascoumes, and Yannick Barthe. Acting in an Uncertain World: An Essay On Technical Democracy. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2009.

Michel Callon, an architect of Actor-Network Theory, with his two fellow authors focused on innovation consider modern controversies where science impinges on society. The rapid leaps in technologies across the human domain, from gene therapy to modern telecommunications to global warming, outpace the ability of the public to understand the scientific “experts.” Echoing back to Hobbes and his political philosophy in controversy with Robert Boyle and his experiments, this book puts forth the argument that political institutions must evolve and improve to create “technical democracy” to handle these social-scientific controversies. The authors advocate “hybrid forums” where lay citizens can participate with scientific experts and policy makers to cooperate on reshaping science to be more inclusive and politics to be more broadly engaging. Case studies of this participatory democracy in tackling sociotechnical issues include mad cow disease mitigation in Britain and mitigating nuclear waste in France. They also advocate for increased citizen involvement in experimentation in real life as crucial to deal with uncertainties caused by these evolving assemblages of science and the social.

Perrow, Charles. Normal Accidents: Living with High-Risk Technologies. New York: Basic Books, 1984.

Sociologist Charles Perrow examined the case of the 1979 accident that caused a partial meltdown of the nuclear reactor at Three Mile Island, NY. Because the system was complex and tightly coupled, operated by fallible humans, with catastrophic potential results of an accident, Perrow described this as an example of “normal accidents.” The more tightly coupled a large techno-social system, the more components and processes can fail. The more additional add-on elements are integrated, in an attempt to increase the system’s safety, ironically the more failure mechanisms exist, and the likelier catastrophic failure becomes. When parts of the system begin to fail, as with the Chernobyl nuclear meltdown, more people in the system try to control the cascading failures. However, because of the time lag between the failure initiation, the observed symptoms, the reaction response time, and the corrective action being observable, the would-be human controllers lose visibility – almost a “blink” of blindness to the current status of the system. Adding corrective measures or training can only mitigate some of the risk. Perrow argues strongly that new designs should emphasize loosely coupled systems, and questions whether high-catastrophe systems such as nuclear plants should be continued at all. This book provides deep context to understand how socio-technical risk is created and understood by both the people who work closely with the large-scale systems, and those whose lives are affected by them.

Von Hippel, Eric A. Democratizing innovation. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2005. http://web.mit.edu/evhippel/www/books/DI/DemocInn.pdf
MIT innovation professor Eric Von Hippel advocates open sharing of technologies with users. Firms which produce products in closed processes can be open sharers of technologies as users. This open approach to sharing the means of production finds strongest examples in the open source software movement, but also can apply to tools shared from engineer to engineer. Von Hippel describes case studies where users, unsatisfied with current technology offerings, become drivers and advocates of technology innovation. Redesigned products from bicycles to surfboards show how passionate users of technology become most aware of limitations and most motivated to implement user-driven innovation to address those limitations. The lead users of innovations shape not only tangible products, but intangibles such as Wikipedia, a shared information community where profit is less important than reputation or standing among the reference community. Similarly, in the open source software community, expertise can be demonstrated by anyone who is interested and “commits” code that other users value – democratizing innovation so anyone can participate, not just scientists and credentialed experts. Von Hippel demonstrates the value of this approach by freely distributing this book via the Internet, as well as selling it through conventional MIT University Press outlets.

Winner, Langdon. "Upon Opening The Black Box and Finding It Empty: Social Constructivism and the Philosophy Of Technology." Science, Technology, and Human Values, 1993, 362-378.

In his March 1991 presidential address to the Biennial Conference of the Society for Philosophy and Technology, published in the Science and Technology Studies (STS) journal Science, Technology and Human Values, STS scholar Langdon Winner challenged assumptions of social construction of technology (SCOT). In contrast to technological determinism, which argues that technology follows an independent path, SCOT or social constructivism argues that humans shape technology. Winner lauds social scientists studying use of technologies “in situ,” such as Noel Mostert’s 1974 in-person study of supertanker technology via sea voyages. In 1987, social constructivists Trevor Pinch and Wiebe Bijker called for scholars to “open the black box” of technology. SCOT should study technology in context, by looking beyond mere inputs and outputs to understand how people use and interpret their social-cultural-technological systems. Winner critiqued SCOT as too focused on technology’s origins; as ignoring non-users and technology failures; and too closely focused on immediate rather than enduring needs. Winner strongly critiques SCOT for not taking a moral stance on the social consequences of technology use. He holds up his own study of Moses’ bridges in Long Island as an example to be followed by taking a moral stance. He criticized the power dynamics that result from low bridges denying poor people access to beaches attended by wealthier people, not just observing, but judging “it should not be thus.”


Amanda K Phillips

  • Bowker, Geoffrey C., and Susan Leigh Star. Sorting Things Out: Classification and Its Consequences. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1999.

Bowker and Star’s text addresses the absence of study regarding “the pragmatics of the invisible forces of categories and standards build into the modern world” (5). Specifically there is a focus on how classification infrastructures shape moral and social life. In analyzing these issues, the authors’ focus on the invisibility of classification systems and ethical impact these structures impart to a given form of social life (5-6). Larger goal of the work is to demystify the magical coherence that is pervasive amongst classification systems; who designs these systems, what work do the systems partake in, and what happens to the aberrations that do not conform to a given system are the key questions guiding the text (9). Specific topics of inquiry include racial classification in South Africa during apartheid, classification within medical environments, and large-scale information systems. This text has use for those interested in infrastructure studies, material culture, as well as scholars of race or postcolonial studies. In regards to the questions of technology guiding this research, Sorting Things Out demonstrates the situated-ness of technologies and objects within larger systems that help to shape meaning and use.

  • Marx, Leo. The Machine in the Garden: Technology and the Pastoral Ideal in America. New York: Oxford University Press, 1964.

This is a work of literary criticism that analyzes the ‘pastoral ideal’ in American Culture and its reconfigurations through the rise of industrialization (3). The title, ‘The Machine in the Garden’ is a reference to a familiar literary trope where the introduction of a technical object is used as a foil to a pristine, untouched landscape. The text’s Marx draws from include Moby Dick, Sleepy Hollow, Walden, as well as others from the core American literary cannon where this theme has been repeated. Guiding this text is the understanding that artistic works can help understand the more tacit aspects of social change such as emotion, lived experience, a moral considerations (307). Also prevalent throughout the text is the question of the failure of the pastoral ideals’ ability to reconcile with the lived technological landscape (364). This source both demonstrates the impact of technological change through artistic sources, but also introduces a form of analysis not actively present in the intro course. Will be of interest to scholars looking to draw from literature or art to enhance their understanding of scientific or technological change.

  • Oudshoorn, Nelly, and Trevor J. Pinch, eds. How Users Matter the Co-construction of Users and Technologies. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2003.

This book of collected essays investigates the relationship and connections between technologies and users. How Users Matter is oriented towards the field of social studies of science and technology, representative of a North American and European perspective (ix). The essays presented in the book were curated to demonstrate the intersections of how different disciplines understand users, most prominently drawing from technology studies, feminist works, and media/cultural studies (16). The text is composed of three sections; the first focusing on ‘users and non-users as active agents’ (16-17), the second looking at spokespersons from society or politics that speak on behalf of users (19), and the third analyzing the role of space and location in shaping the user (21-22). The conclusions of many of the essays suggest the necessity for blurring the distinctness of the line between users and technologies, while also stressing the necessity of accounting for multiplicity, diversity, and identity within such analysis (24-25).

  • Smith, Merritt Roe, and Leo Marx, eds. Does Technology Drive History?: The Dilemma of Technological Determinism. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1994.

Does Technology Drive History? is a book of collected essays organized around the concept of technological determinism. Emerging out of a conference held at MIT in 1989, contributing authors all make an argument for varying forms of determinism in technology’s shaping of history. Distinction is made between ‘hard determinism,’ where agency is located within the object and ‘soft determinism’ where a technology is situated as a byproduct of human action. All essays situate themselves somewhere along this spectrum of determinism; Thomas Hughes discusses Technological Momentum as a middle ground between social constructivism and a (hard) technological determinism, Philip Scranton argues against the historiographical tendency to write “deterministic master narratives” (144), and Rosalind Williams’s text takes issue with work that frames technology as “inherently rational” (218). This book is oriented towards both STS scholars as well as traditional historians, as the essays often argue for more comprehensive analysis from historians in their construction of narratives involving technology.

Pratama Yudha Pradheksa

The Sociological Imagination and Postcolonial Studies: the Role of Third World in the Development of STS Program

Mills, C Wright, the Sociological Imagination, London: Oxford University Press; 40th anniversary edition, 2000

In the Sociological Imagination, C Wright Mills draws two levels of micro and macro in the sociology account. By taking some cases in professional life and bureaucratic ethos, he stressed that the Sociological Imagination works is between ‘the personal troubles of milieu’ and ‘the public issues of social structure’ (p.8). I noticed Mills’s approach is how someone’s biography reflects public issues and how public issues shape someone’s biography. Drawing accounts on grand theory and abstracted empiricism, his work offers an alternative method that analyzes biography and history. As Shanahan and Macmillan state that “Mill’s advocates that the study of human behavior should begin with humans, their behavior, and their settings, and not with highly abstract concepts that are imposed on people and their situations” (2008, xi). In the way in which Mills analyzes human values, thought, and behavior, I think Weber’s interpretative and rationalization might have influenced Mills’s work on the Sociological Imagination. In addition, the Sociological Imagination provides a useful method of studying rationalization of scholars in the development of STS program and it is also valuable to trace biography and history of STS scholars and its program. Also, by studying the Sociological Imagination, we can see who is addressed by knowledge.

Reference:
Shanahan and Michael J, Biography and the Sociological Imagination: Contexts and Contingencies. New York. WW Norton, 2008

Harding, Sandra, Is Science Multicultural? : Postcolonialisms, Feminisms, and Epistemologies. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1998

With a PhD in Philosophy from New York University, Sandra Harding is one of the prominent scholars in feminism and postcolonial science and technology studies. Her book Is Science Multicultural? : Postcolonialisms, Feminisms, and Epistemologies has convincing arguments in the relationship between the scientific project developed in Europe and the US and the undeveloped project in the third world. According to Cuomo (1998), postcolonial critique begins from the perspectives of non-Western scientific and technological traditions to determine how modern Western science is at once dangerous, useful and power-laden. In this way, Harding’s account is to see development of science from “non western” areas. Explicitly, she writes “science and their societies, it turned out, co-constructed each other” (p. 2). By using “co-constructed each other”, his account might be useful to frame objectivity and rationality in deploying knowledge. This stand point supports a rationale that science has resulted from diverse cultures, and it is important to study science in a multicultural perspective. Moreover, her standpoint in feminist postcolonial science is like “grammar” to read equally the domination of patriarchy language in modern science world from “non western” culture.

Reference:
Cuomo, Chris J, "Is Science Multicultural? Postcolonialisms, Feminisms, and Epistemologies." The Women's Review of Books Dec. 1998: 14+. Biography in Context. Web. 25 Sept. 2015.

Bhambra, K Gurminder. Rethinking Modernity: Postcolonialism and the Sociological Imagination, Basingstoke: Palgrave MacMillan, 2007

In this book, Bhambra draws historical sociology analysis in challenging the dominant narrative of modernity in the west. By taking three events the Renaissance, the French Revolution, and the Industrial Revolution, Bhambra stresses that the birth of modernity including scientific “innovation”, nation-state, and separation of traditional and modernity tend to forget the role of “non western”. These movements and events refer to the term of ‘modern’ that associated with European identity. She challenges the narrative that Europe as a center of ‘modernity’ that dominated in the discourse of history and social science accounts. To deconstruct the dominant narrative, and construct a new narrative, she offers an approach called “connected histories” that “re-think our current circumstance and the trajectories of change associated with them from multi perspective, rather than a dominant European one” (p.153). In my opinion, her “connected histories” is useful to trace a possibility that the role of “non-western” might be forgotten in development of STS program, and find out the missing point in the development of STS programs in the United States (US). It is like Norbert Elias, a German sociologist, who had significant role in framing “actor and structure” in sociology account but some historiographies tend to forget (or maybe forgotten) his contribution.

Elijah Salters: The Social art of science.

Steven Shapin and Simon Schaffer, authors. Leviathan and the Air-Pump: Hobbes, Boyle, and the Experimental Life. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1985.

This edition includes research by the authors of Thomas Hobbes and Robert Boyles. They created a dialog while reserving judgment of neither Hobbes nor Boyle. The authors’ description of each scientists characterizes them according to their time period yet gives an interpretation that these scientist exists during the same time period, this however is not true. Thomas Hobbes express his theory that science should include a diverse social group fall all, this includes non-scientist as well as scientist. His theory disregards experimentation as discourtesy of our society’s knowledge. In parallel, Robert Boyles uses experimentation as a means of discovery for problem solving and answers. His experiment of the air pump, was revolution ion in its time. His method of experimentation for accuracy, appears rather vague. Boyle chose a select few for view the air-pump experiment within a closed laboratory within the Royal Society, this is in direct opposition of Hobbes concept for viewing by a society. When reviewing Hobbes’ and Boyle’s approach of science, Boyles’ methodology of outside viewing for experiments is considered a division between science and society.

Ian Hacking, author. Review: Artificial Phenomena. Cambridge: Cambridge Press, 1991. 235-241

This is an essay, written as a review of Leviathan and the Air-Pump: Hobbes, Boyle, and the Experimental Life. The essay references historical science experiments in parallel of Boyles’s air-pump. The essay discusses the air-pump experiments as something lacking success, in accordance to modern standards. The accuracy of the air-pump creates several question due to the constant leaking and lack of repetition, the ability to repeat. This however, is not a major artifact from Boyles’ himself, instead he created the experiment to derive a specific answer regardless of any leaks by the air-pump. Viewing experimentation as an artistic structure for supporting his theory. The results of the experiment were solely independent of the air-pump performance, the air-pump was a tool used in the observation for scientific results.

Christopher Hill, author. A new Kind of Clergy: Ideology and the experimental method. Princeton NJ: Princeton University Press, 1985. 726-735

The article reveals the change in views of discussing science with experimentation As a review of Leviathan and the Air-Pump, the author describes Hobbes as an elder maintain his views of experimentation similar to the division over religion clergy and the secular authority, which caused the civil war. Yet, Boyles use of experimentation as the new clergy. Scientist use of experimentation revolutionize the social science and natural sciences. An historical event that continues within our society today.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License