Social Studies of Science

Intro to STS Journal Project
Daniel Cordova, Marie Stettler, Sam Fried, Joshua Earle

Final Analysis

Introduction


Social Studies of Science - or SSS - is an interdisciplinary journal aimed at interfacing the social sciences, education, and policy with modern scientific and technological research. SSS a product of Sage Publications, and is now in its 5th decade. To better understand SSS and its evolution over time, we looked at eight different articles. All articles were related to T.S. Kuhn’s Structure of Scientific Revolutions, a seminal work in the interdisciplinary field of Science, Technology & Society (STS). The first four articles we examined were published between 1971 and 1990. The later four articles were published between 1991 and 2014 (with the exception of one, which was officially published in 1982 and then re-released in 1997 with a special epilogue).

There was a definite shift in authorship between the earlier and later articles we examined. Of the earlier authors, all except one came from fields outside of STS. One author hailed from Psychology; another worked at an NGO that tracked UFO-sightings; another was a successful archivist. Even the STS author (Diana Crane) would ultimately reside in the realm of fashion and critical theory.
The second-generation authors (between 1991 and present), however, were all situated within the field of STS. Additionally, they all hold professoriate positions at various universities. One is a prominent research professor of sound design at Cornell’s STS program. Another is a Philosopher of Science and Social Epistemologist at SUNY Oswego. Another is a Philosopher-Sociologist of Science and Social Epistemologist at Warwick University in the UK. The last (but not least) author is a Philosopher-Sociologist of Science at Queens University in Canada, and author of the popular An Introduction to Science and Technology Studies.

With the exception of one, all articles performed qualitative analyses. This tells us (unsurprisingly) that STS is a field whose methodologies fall mostly in the qualitative school. However, the articles stances on Kuhn and his seminal work are somewhat all-over-the place. That is, it’s difficult to draw conclusions about STS and its feelings about Kuhn’s work over time based on only these eight articles. This aspect of our analysis, therefore, is not necessarily as telling of the evolution of SSS over time. However, the author’s backgrounds are. We feel comfortable drawing the conclusion that, as STS grew to be more of a discipline, SSS contained more articles from purely academic authors. The later authors held positions in STS (or STS-inclined) departments, and are considered big-name acts within the field. This is not the case with the earlier the earlier authors. As STS grew to be more of an interdisciplinary discipline, SSS grew in this direction as well. Perhaps, then, it can be said that STS has been doing some of its own boundary work over the past 45 years.

SSS: Background Information


Social Studies of Science was co-founded by British Professor David O. Edge (1932-2003) and American Professor Roy M. MacLeod (b. 1941) in January of 1971 as Science Studies. According to the first editorial, STS was just beginning to gain traction with scholars over a multitude of disciplines in the early 1970s. However the first editors of the journal thought there was a lack of “methodological consensus” guiding the debate about social characteristics of science and technology. Thus, the journal was created to serve as a communication channel to students and scholars from disciplines outside STS - those who were interested in the multidisciplinarity that defines the studies of science and technology. It intends to serve as a bridge among practitioners of different disciplines. The mission of the publication, based on its first editorial, devotes SSS to…

[…] original research, whether empirical or theoretical, which brings fresh light to bear the concepts, processes and consequences of modern science. It will be interdisciplinary in the sense that it will encourage appropriate contributions from political science, sociology, economics, philosophy, psychology, social anthropology, and the legal and educational disciplines. [i]

After forty years this mission has remained, only modified by the inclusion of a new field among the disciplines comprised in their original statement: medicine.
SSS is owned by a private publishing company, Sage Publications. Sage has offices in New York, London, Washington, DC, Singapore and New Delhi. Sage Publications has been the SSS publisher since 1974 (From 1971 until 1974, the journal was published by Macmillan Journals Limited, in London, UK). Sage is an independent publisher whose primary focus is scholastic material. It is the largest academic publishing company in the world, and it is also the world’s fifth largest publisher of academic journals specifically. SSS is just one of over 700 different journals that span a multitude of disciplines. According to Sage’s website, their mission is as follows:

[…] disseminating vital research to the broadest community following a mission ‘[…] founded in the belief that education is intrinsically valuable, and the dissemination of useable knowledge is a key foundation in building a healthy society.’

From 1971 to 1974, only the two original editors (Edge and MacLeod) sat on the publication’s editorial board. As of 1975, the editorial team is a collection of: the editors (co-editors or chief editors), a team of collaborating editors, a copy editor or review editor, and a big team of editorial advisors. In the past forty years there have been only six chief editors. Every new editor comes from the ranks of the collaborating editors, and the founding editors and publisher (SAGE Publications Ltd., London, UK) have the responsibility of appointing new chief editors when necessary.

Prior to 1997, SSS published 4 issues per year, ranging from 400 to 900 pages each. The issues would be released on a variable schedule, entirely dependent on whether the journal had collected enough submissions in a given time period. If too few submissions led to a delay, both the delayed issue and the following issue would be released simultaneously. However, beginning in 1997, the journal has been publishing 6 issues per year - each containing around 900 pages of articles - and on a much more regular release schedule. Other than regularly published articles, the post-1997 SSS includes editorials, reviews of articles and books, and early meeting proceedings.

SSS is currently ranked 2nd out of 56 Journals in History and Philosophy of Science via SCImago, which ranks journals based on number of citations in other papers and the prestige of those papers and journals that did the citations. They rank 2nd out of 42 journals in History and Philosophy of Science via SSCI, an interdisciplinary citation index created by Thompson Reuters. The journal’s 2013 Impact factor was 2.151 (up from 1.77 in 2012). Impact factors are calculated for a given year by dividing the number of times articles from the previous two years were cited elsewhere by the number of citable items (i.e. not editorials or letters to the editor) over that same time period.

The journal’s entire catalogue is available online. The archives are searchable, and are categorized chronologically. However, only a few SSS materials can be accessed at no cost. Specifically, award-winning articles are available without subscription, along with a small set of podcasts. For all other materials, an individual or institutional subscription must be purchased. There are a number of different packages available:

  • An institutional subscription that provides access to both print and online resources costs $1,937.00 per year. For additional access to back issues - in both print and online form - the cost rises to $2,131.00 per year.
  • An online access-only subscription for institutions, at $1,743.00.
  • An institutional subscription with print and online access to back issues - and online access to current and upcoming issues - at $1,937.00.
  • A “super” (our words, not Sage’s) back issue subscription for institutions, that provides access to content spanning back through 1998. This online-only subscription costs $4,233.00 per year.
  • A print-only subscription for institutions, at $1,898.00 per year.

Additionally, the only type of individual, non-institutional subscription offered is print-only, at $141.00. Otherwise, individuals can purchase access to single issues at $31.00 each. Institutions can purchase single issues as well, for $348.00 each. Perhaps this goes without saying but, since Sage is a large, multi-national publishing company, it does not need to advertise.

Some of SSS’s most-cited articles include:

  • Susan Leigh Star and James R. Griesemer. Institutional Ecology, ‘Translations’ and Boundary Objects: Amateurs and Professionals in Berkeley's Museum of Vertebrate Zoology, 1907-39 August 1989.
  • H.M. Collins and Robert Evans. The Third Wave of Science Studies: Studies of Expertise and Experience April 2002.
  • Trevor J. Pinch and Wiebe E. Bijker. The Social Construction of Facts and Artefacts: or How the Sociology of Science and the Sociology of Technology might Benefit Each Other August 1984.

SSS and Structure of Scientific Revolutions: The Early Years


Our group looked at four articles - all in or before 1980, and all connecting ideas from T.S. Kuhn’s Structure of Scientific Revolutions to other disciplines. The articles range in length from 22 to 34 pages. Only one article utilizes visualizations. The article with the most citations is David Palermo’s 1971 Is a Scientific Revolution Taking Place in Psychology?, at 123. The other articles have 53 (Westrum, ‘78), 19 (Crane, ‘80) and 15 (Reingold, ‘80) citations.

Interestingly, there is a correlation between citation numbers and article age. However, it would seem that an article from more than 30 year ago - at least a very well-read one - should have more than 15 citations. The Crane article was cited by a very well-read book (Discourse and Social Psychology: Beyond Attitudes and Behaviors, Potter and Wetherell 1987, 6563 citations). The Palermo article was cited by the Pinch and Bijker article we read earlier this semester (1984, 1292 citations). The Westrum article has been cited by two Shapin articles from the mid-1980s (History of Science and its Social Reconstructions and Pump and Circumstance: Robert Boyle’s Literary Technology). Unfortunately, the Reingold piece never garnered any powerful meta-citers (citations with many citations). However, it has been cited by big-name sociological STS-er Sal Restivo. Clearly, none of these articles are unimportant. Perhaps the relative lack of citations in these four articles says more about STS’s status at the time (still a growing field) than the quality of the work.

All four articles are well-written and well-argued. They have clear structures, make use of either footnotes or endnotes (or both), make well-informed (and historical) analyses, and all (except the Palermo piece) have abstracts. Unsurprisingly for STS, all authors come from different backgrounds - both inside and outside of academia. Palermo was a professor of psychology and Penn State University. Westrum was a MUFON (Mutual UFO Network, a non-profit that researches UFO-sightings) consultant, and would eventually go on to become an STS-like professor (Sociology and Interdisciplinary Technology) at Eastern Michigan. Crane was a professor at the Department of Sociology and of the Department of History and Sociology of Science at the University of Pennsylvania and, later on, her research focus shifted dramatically away from science and medicine to art, culture, fashion and gender studies.

Finally, Reingold was a historian of science and an archivist who held positions at the Library of Congress, the National Archives, the National Museum of American History. There is also a distinguished prize named after Reingold - it is awarded yearly to graduate students who have written exemplary History of Science essays. All authors except for Crane used a somewhat reflexive analysis: they applied Kuhn’s work to their own field of interest.

Palermo argues for psychology’s recognition as a true science (Kuhn’s vision of science, specifically). He posits that psychology has already had two major scientific paradigms, sandwiching one scientific crisis. According to Palermo, psychology’s first paradigm was introspection/consciousness: practicing psychologists interviewed subjects about their thoughts and feelings. This was the primary method of data collection. However, this method could not be standardized across varying subjects: particularly, small children whose verbal communication is not strong, or animals who cannot communicate verbally at all. Therefore, a scientific crisis occurred (one for which there were a few pre-paradigmatic candidates).

Palermo posits that behavioral psychology ultimately triumphed over all other candidates because 1. it was most successful at standardizing observation across adult humans, young children and animals 2. it eliminated a certain self-report error - subject’s introspection can be seen as behavior, instead of an accurate, unbiased account of the subject and their surroundings, and 3. behavioral psychology was perceived as having more practical applications than its predecessor. Palermo also argues that behavioral psychology is paradigmatic because it leaves related questions like genetics to geneticists. According to Palermo, physical sciences also have a threshold at which they leave questions outside of the immediate discipline to related/overlapping disciplines. Palermo also sees behavioral psychology as paradigmatic because its definition has - and the questions its practitioners ask have - grown more complex over time. Unfortunately, Palermo’s reflexiveness does not work to his advantage. Specifically, his situatedness in the field of psychology weakened his otherwise strong arguments for recognizing psychology as a science in Kuhnian terms.

Westrum argues that scientists have been reluctant to accept popular beliefs as point of entries for new research or inquire. At the end of the 18th and the beginning of the 19th centuries, people started to observe meteors burning in our atmosphere, and subsequent meteorites falling to Earth. Since these were objects completely strange to science - objects for which no prior theory existed - scientists, doubtful of empiricism, rejected them and even radicalized those peer who even tried to research them. The anomaly was the meteorite, the rock that reached the ground, but not the meteor, the object or phenomenon that crossed the sky on fire. During this period of time, many laypeople had seen the phenomenon of the meteor. However, no savant, as Westrum calls them, had seen the actual rocks falling and reaching the earth. The methodology Westrum uses to approach the case is compelling. The narrative, in the form of a historical account and subsequent sociological explanations, presents a clear case.

Reingold’s discussion surrounds why Structures is not popular within history of science but is within other fields. In other words, scholars in other disciplines apply Kuhn’s model to their respective fields without placing it in its own discipline: History of Science. This misappropriation of his work leads to complications of the ways in which History of Science and STS scholarship is used and interpreted elsewhere and, more importantly, the ways in which History of Science was redefined by Kuhn. This problem arises in part because Kuhn’s piece is far more subjective and relativistic in nature in contrast to what the philosophers of science would have like to attribute to current work: basically scholars were holding onto their hopes that the “progress of science” would continue; but Kuhn’s solution to this tension was to explain that each paradigm provided stratifications of “higher logical states,” with linear transitions from one paradigm to the next (484). This leads to discussion surrounding what history of science has become. At the time, Reingold felt that “the emerging consensus does not regard history of science as part of science nor as an independent domain” (490). Additionally, Reingold wonders whether Kuhn provides practitioners with proper, empirical history: should History of Science really provide a sterile framework for which all subsequent interpretive work is built upon?

Finally, Crane’s piece was the only one of the four we reviewed in which the author was not reflexive about their home discipline. Crane walks us through a very detailed analytical examination of how high energy physics does and does not fit into Kuhnian paradigms. After detailing exactly which version of “paradigm” (Kuhn’s clarification in the Postscript of Structure) she will be using, and the four elements thereof (Symbolic Generalizations, Values, Metaphysical Models, and Exemplars), she lays out her methods. Crane spoke with 23 informants, all theorists with multiple publications, but also notes that surveys of respondents would be useful to explore in greater detail the material she presents. She then details each of the four elements of Kuhn’s paradigm as it relates to high energy physics before looking at whether or not those elements are always present in conjunction with one another. Crane claims that Kuhn’s four elements do not always work in conjunction - that, without a paradigm shift, exemplars, and metaphysical models are gathered, tested, and confirmed or rejected without any disturbance to the values or symbolic generalizations.

Additionally, for some periods, exemplars are not present at all: they can be introduced through outside means, such as in the case of quarks. Anomalies and crises have not altered the paradigm of quantum mechanics, but rather have lived and died within it, being accepted or rejected as necessary. This means that the process of cognitive change does not follow the Kuhnian sequence of anomaly-crisis-revolution. Instead, the fundamental principles of the field have not been questioned in decades, while exemplars are rejected if they prove to be untestable or if they are not confirmed. Exemplars that are confirmed provide the building blocks for the development of new exemplars.

SSS and Structure of Scientific Revolutions: Modern Era


The fifty years since Structures has provided time enough to analyze its systemic influence on the field of STS through SSS. Highlighting four modern articles allowed for comparison of both thematic and structural characteristics with those that we highlighted in the early era articles.

Structurally, these articles differ from the early era articles in that they are significantly shorter, ranging from 6-17 pages. Contributors include two philosophers: Sergio Sismondo and K. Brad Wray; and both Trevor Pinch and Steve Fuller, classically trained in sociology.

Sismondo, in his editorial summary, reflects on both Kuhn’s Structures and Latour’s Science in Action long-lasting influence on the field of STS. While many since have had doubts about these works’ ability to address complex problems, Sismondo makes a point that we can both acknowledge the influence of these pieces within ‘genealogies of STS’ without being unidimensional.

Pinch’s article acts as a bridge between the early years where Structures was heavily cited and used in myriad ways to promote the sciences (and many subject struggling to define themselves as such) and the later years where the ideas in Structures were seen as simplistic and, while important historically for the field, much less relevant than they had been. First published in 1982, then re-printed in 1996, it describes two different camps of interpretation for Kuhn’s paradigms, the Conservative and the Radical, and compares them to the (then rising in popularity) Mertonian normative school of thought. He describes the Conservative interpretation of the term paradigm as “facilitat(ing) the separation of the description of scientists’ social activity from the description of their cognitive activity” and the radical interpretation as “emphasis(ing) the integration of, and holistic nature of cognitive and social activity in science.” (Pinch 466) At the forefront of the conservative interpretation was Kuhn himself who, in his postscript to SSR wrote that “A paradigm… is what the members of a scientific community, and they alone, share” (Kuhn 1974: 460) and Pinch notes that such a definition entails a “firm dividing line between the cognitive and social elements of science” (466-467). Following this, Pinch then compares the conservative interpretation to Merton, using Merton’s own words and finds that “In view of the compatibility of Merton’s work with conservative interpretation of Kuhn it would seem to be misguided to drive a wedge between “Kuhnian” sociology of science and “Mertonian” sociology of science” (470).

The radical interpretation seeks to remove the separation of the social and cognitive parts, because each part only makes sense within the context of the paradigm as a whole (473). As this style of interpreting paradigms is more generally considered more “interpretive” than “normative,” Pinch claims that while the conservative interpretation is compatible with Merton, that the radical is not. And as Kuhn himself has made his position clearer over time, aligning himself with the conservative camp, and with the close links between Merton and Kuhn, Pinch argues that the term “Kuhnian” sociology of science, as a description of a particular body of work, be laid to rest. In his epilogue, written 16 years later, he notes that his suggestion has come to pass. He notes that while Kuhn is still cited, his paradigms no longer carry the weight they once did (478), and that the field is moving away from him in several directions. He notes that Kuhn’s work may not be at the center of sociological debates anymore, but his influence lives on, as “It was Kuhn who showed us how to bridge one of the great divides in the modern world — that between ideas and actions” (479).

Fuller’s short article that was published in the same issue as Sismondo’s short remarks—a special section of the third issue of SSS in 2012, celebrating the 50th anniversary of The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, by Thomas Kuhn (1962), and the 25th anniversary of Science in Action by Bruno Latour (1987). In it Fuller makes a critical retrospective review of the impact, undeniable indeed, that both T. Kuhn and B. Latour have had in the discipline of Studies of Science and Technology (pp 429, 430). What Fuller argues is that despite the immense popularity of these two books it is necessary to reflect upon their interpretations but above all, upon the real effects they had in the domain of STS.

Regarding Kuhn, Fuller expresses a disappointment as he sees that the interpretation given to SSR wrapped science in isolationism, denying any possibility of external criticism (p 430). Instead of making STS the interdisciplinary consolidation of philosophy of science as a discipline, Kuhn´s book obliterated the possibility of science being scrutinized by outsiders. “Kuhnian scientists”, become blind pursuers of the next paradigm, risking even the production of scientific knowledge itself, having as external actors only ones with specific interests, ultimately shaped according to the political and economical environment, therefore the clear demarcation Fuller makes between the before and after Cold War eras (p 430).

Thanks to Latour, in turn, according to Fuller the concept of science has been atomized, making it unrecognizable either as an institution or as a profession. Science has become a layer in a supra network where there are many constituents, or even stakeholders, both producers and consumers of scientific knowledge This system of networks is interpreted as a market, or as Fuller states, “The Market” (p 431).

Fuller makes an analysis not only of the epistemological heritage that Kuhn and Latour have left for STS practitioners, but also situates both authors in their own environment. Kuhn´s post WWII Harvard, and Latour´s 1970´s France, have markedly influenced their products. Fuller`s exercise of critically and openly reflecting upon two of the major thinkers in STS, certainly brings a new optic to the field. It comes by as precisely what STS is supposed to carry about: the capacity to scrutinize, to analyze and to become a driving force for the bettering of scientific knowledge. Pondering about the epistemological scaffold of STS should be a way to better its practice and to help the discipline to fulfill its goal.
Wray sought to test the oft-made hypothesis that the greatest scientific and technological discoveries are made by young innovators; not by older scientists stuck in an outdated paradigm. Wray posits that this theory exists because of “three different, though compatible, interpretations:”

First, some have suggested that older scientists are resistant to change (Kuhn, 1996; Hull et al., 1978) […] Second, others have suggested that young scientists are especially productive (Cole, 1979). Third, some have suggested that young scientists are more likely to make significant discoveries than are older scientists […] (Wray 137).

Wray goes on to “[…] examine [Kuhn’s] hypothesis in light of his own data […]” (140) by collecting a sample of all 24 scientists from Kuhn’s Structure, and analyzing data about the date - and their age - at the time they made their discoveries. He concludes that “[…] the median age of scientific revolutionaries is 38 […] the mean is 37.4.” (143). According to Wray, these ages are not quite representative of the type of youth Kuhn suggests. Then, Wray compares the data from Structure against the total population of scientists for each year of discovery. From this, he finds that young scientists (ages 26 to 35) make up far more of the scientific population than do other age groups (nearly half of all scientists - 45%). Wray deduces that young scientists, therefore, are not necessarily the most productive or innovative - there are simply a whole lot of them. From this, he draw the conclusion that we may need to rethink our conceptions of what makes a “revolutionary” scientist.

Conclusion


To conclude: Kuhn’s Structure of Scientific Revolutions was definitely a seminal book in both the STS field and SSS’s scope of works that inspired a great deal of journal authorship. However, there is no clear consensus about SSS (or STS) and its view of Structures from the eight readings. Within SSS, it was seen as a quantitative analysis for the ages of revolutionary scientists, a work that inspires many scholars except Historians of Science, a work that is only circumstantially on point, an outdated work, an outdated-yet-important work, etc. If anything, only considering articles based around Structures only made our lives easier by limiting the scope of this project. The more interesting observations about the journal - henceforth about STS as a field - came from the backgrounds of the authors over time. The motley crew of non-STS and mostly non-academic authors from the earlier articles contrasts with the well-known, established professors and STS scholars from the later swath of articles. This could be indicative of the push to provide even the most interdisciplinary of disciplines with some boundary work; some canon of knowledge and big-name thinkers recognizable to a single field.

Bibliography

  • Palermo, D. S. (1971). Is a scientific revolution taking place in psychology?.Social Studies of Science, 1(2), 135-155.
  • Westrum, R. (1978). Science and social intelligence about anomalies: The case of meteorites. Social Studies of Science, 8(4), 461-493.
  • Reingold, N. (1980). Through paradigm-land to a normal history of science.Social Studies of Science, 10(4), 475-496.
  • Crane, D. (1980). An exploratory study of Kuhnian paradigms in theoretical high energy physics. Social Studies of Science, 10(1), 23-54.
  • Fuller, Steve. "CSI: Kuhn and Latour." Social Studies of Science (2012)
  • Pinch, T.J. “Kuhn −− The Conservative and Radical Interpretations: Are Some Mertonians ‘Kuhnians’ and Some Kuhnians ‘Mertonians’?” Social Studies of Science 1997 27: 465
  • Sismondo, Sergio. "Fifty years of The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, twenty-five of Science in Action." Social Studies of Science (2012)
  • Wray, K. B. (2003). Is science really a young man's game?. Social Studies of Science, 33(1), 137-149.
  • "Social Studies of Science: An International Review of Research in the Social Dimensions of Science and Technology." Sage Publications. Sage Publications, n.d. Web. 30 Sept. 2014. <http://www.sagepub.com/journals/Journal200907/subscribe>.
  • "Social Studies of Science." Social Studies of Science. Sage Publications, n.d. Web. 30 Sept. 2014. <http://sss.sagepub.com/>.



Stage 1

Social Studies of Science was co-founded by British Professor David O. Edge (1932-2003) and American Professor Roy M. MacLeod (b. 1941) in January of 1971 as Science Studies. According to the first editorial, STS was just beginning to gain traction with scholars over a multitude of disciplines in the early 1970s. However the first Editors of the journal thought there was a lack of “agreed rules”, or “methodological consensus” guiding the debate about the social characteristics of science and technology. Thus, the Journal was created to serve as a communication channel to students and scholars from disciplines outside STS - those who were interested in the multidisciplinarity that defines the studies of science and technology. It intends to serve as a bridge among practitioners of different disciplines. The mission of the publication, based on its first Editorial, devotes SSS to…

[…] original research, whether empirical or theoretical, which brings fresh light to bear the concepts, processes and consequences of modern science. It will be interdisciplinary in the sense that it will encourage appropriate contributions from political science, sociology, economics, philosophy, psychology, social anthropology, and the legal and educational disciplines. [i]

After forty years this mission seems to be the same, only modified by the inclusion of a new field among the disciplines comprised in their original statement: medicine.

SSS is owned by a private publishing company, Sage Publications. Sage has offices in New York, London, Washington, DC, Singapore and New Delhi. Sage Publications has been the SSS publisher since 1974 (From 1971 until 1974, the journal was published by Macmillan Journals Limited, in London, UK). Sage is an independent publisher whose primary focus is scholastic material. It is the largest academic publishing company in the world, and it is also the world’s fifth largest publisher of academic journals specifically. SSS is just one of over 700 different journals that span a multitude of disciplines. According to Sage’s website, their mission is as follows:

[…] disseminating vital research to the broadest community following a mission ‘[…] founded in the belief that education is intrinsically valuable, and the dissemination of useable knowledge is a key foundation in building a healthy society.’

From 1971 to 1974, only the two original Editors (Edge and MacLeod) sat on the publication’s editorial board. As of 1975, the editorial team is a collection of: the Editors (Co-Editors or Chief Editors), a team of Collaborating Editors, a Copy Editor or Review Editor, and a big team of Editorial Advisors. In the past forty years there have been only six Chief Editors. Every new Editor comes from the ranks of the Collaborating Editors, and the founding Editors and Publisher (SAGE Publications Ltd., London, UK) have the responsibility of appointing new Chief Editors when necessary.

Prior to 1997, SSS published 4 issues per year, ranging from 400 to 900 pages each. The issues would be released on a variable schedule, entirely dependent on whether the journal had collected enough submissions in a given time period. If too few submissions led to a delay, both the delayed issue and the following issue would be released simultaneously. However, beginning in 1997, the journal has been publishing 6 issues per year - each containing around 900 pages of articles - and on a much more regular release schedule. Other than regularly published articles, the post-1997 SSS includes editorials, reviews of articles and books, and early meeting proceedings.

SSS is currently ranked 2nd out of 56 Journals in History and Philosophy of Science via SCImago, which ranks journals based on number of citations in other papers and the prestige of those papers and journals that did the citations. They rank 2nd out of 42 journals in History and Philosophy of Science via SSCI, an interdisciplinary citation index created by Thompson Reuters. The journal’s 2013 Impact factor was 2.151 (up from 1.77 in 2012). Impact factors are calculated for a given year by dividing the number of times articles from the previous two years were cited elsewhere by the number of citable items (i.e. not editorials or letters to the editor) over that same time period.

The journal’s entire catalogue is available online (but not for free, as the next paragraph will explain). The archives are searchable, and are categorized chronologically. Only a few SSS materials can be accessed at no cost. Specifically, award-winning articles are available without sans subscription, as well as a set of podcasts. For all other materials, an individual or institutional subscription must be purchased. There are a number of different packages available:

  • An institutional subscription that provides access to both print and online resources costs $1,937.00 per year. For additional access to back issues - in both print and online form - the cost rises to $2,131.00 per year.
  • An online access-only subscription for institutions, at $1,743.00.
  • An institutional subscription with print and online access to back issues - and online access to current and upcoming issues - at $1,937.00.
  • A “super” (our words, not Sage’s) back issue subscription for institutions, that provides access to content spanning back through 1998. This online-only subscription costs $4,233.00 per year.
  • A print-only subscription for institutions, at $1,898.00 per year.

Additionally (and interestingly) the only type of individual, non-institutional subscription offered is print-only, at $141.00. Otherwise, individuals can purchase access to single issues at $31.00 each. Institutions can purchase single issues as well, for $348.00 each. Perhaps this goes without saying but, since Sage is a large, multi-national publishing company, it does not need to advertise.

Some of the most-cited articles include:

http://www.sagepub.com/journals/Journal200907/subscribe).
("Sage Publications". Sage at a glance. Sage Publications. Retrieved 13 April 2012.)

Susan Leigh Star and James R. Griesemer
Institutional Ecology, ‘Translations’ and Boundary Objects: Amateurs and Professionals in Berkeley's Museum of Vertebrate Zoology, 1907-39 August 1989.

H.M. Collins and Robert Evans
The Third Wave of Science Studies: Studies of Expertise and Experience April 2002.

And one we’re familiar with: Trevor J. Pinch and Wiebe E. Bijker
The Social Construction of Facts and Artefacts: or How the Sociology of Science and the Sociology of Technology might Benefit Each Other August 1984.


Stage 2

Articles:

  • Palermo, D. S. (1971). Is a scientific revolution taking place in psychology?.Social Studies of Science, 1(2), 135-155.
  • Westrum, R. (1978). Science and social intelligence about anomalies: The case of meteorites. Social Studies of Science, 8(4), 461-493.
  • Reingold, N. (1980). Through paradigm-land to a normal history of science.Social Studies of Science, 10(4), 475-496.
  • Crane, D. (1980). An exploratory study of Kuhnian paradigms in theoretical high energy physics. Social Studies of Science, 10(1), 23-54.

Our group looked at 4 articles - all in or before 1980, and all connecting ideas from T.S. Kuhn’s Structure of Scientific Revolutions to other disciplines. The articles range in length from 22 to 34 pages. Only one article utilizes visualizations. The article with the most citations is David Palermo’s 1971 Is a Scientific Revolution Taking Place in Psychology?, at 123. The other articles have 53 (Westrum, ‘78), 19 (Crane, ‘80) and 15 (Reingold, ‘80) citations. Interestingly, to an extent, there is a correlation between citations and article age. However, it would seem that an article from more than 30 year ago - at least a very well-traveled one - should have more than 15 citations. The Crane article, though, was cited by a very well-read book (Discourse and Social Psychology: Beyond Attitudes and Behaviors, Potter and Wetherell 1987, 6563 citations). The Palermo article was cited by the Pinch and Bijker article we read earlier this semester (1984, 1292 citations). The Westrum article has been cited by two Shapin articles from the mid-1980s (History of Science and its Social Reconstructions and Pump and Circumstance: Robert Boyle’s Literary Technology). Unfortunately, the Reingold piece never garnered any powerful meta-citers (citations with many citations). However, it has been cited by big-name sociological STS-er Sal Restivo. Clearly, none of these articles are unimportant. Perhaps the relative lack of citations in these four articles says more about STS’s status at the time (still a growing field) than the quality of the work.

All four articles are well-written and well-argued. They have clear structures, make use of either footnotes or endnotes (or both), make well-informed (and historical) analyses, and all (except the Palermo piece) have abstracts. Unsurprisingly for STS, all authors come from different backgrounds - both inside and outside of academia. Palermo was a professor of psychology and Penn State University. Westrum was a MUFON (Mutual UFO Network, a non-profit that researches UFO-sightings) consultant, and would eventually go on to become an STS-like professor (Sociology and Interdisciplinary Technology) at Eastern Michigan. Crane was a professor at the Department of Sociology and of the Department of History and Sociology of Science at the University of Pennsylvania and, later on, her research focus shifted dramatically away from science and medicine to art, culture, fashion and gender studies. Finally, Reingold was a historian of science and an archivist who held positions at the Library of Congress, the National Archives, the National Museum of American History. There is also a distinguished prize named after Reingold - it is awarded yearly to graduate students who have written exemplary History of Science essays. All authors except for Crane used a somewhat reflexive analysis: they applied Kuhn’s work to their own field of interest.

Palermo argues for psychology’s recognition as a true science (Kuhn’s vision of science, specifically). He posits that psychology has already had two major scientific paradigms, sandwiching one scientific crisis. According to Palermo, psychology’s first paradigm was introspection/consciousness: practicing psychologists interviewed subjects about their thoughts and feelings. This was the primary method of data collection. However, this method could not be standardized across varying subjects: particularly, small children whose verbal communication is not strong, or animals who cannot communicate verbally at all. Therefore, a scientific crisis occurred (one for which there were a few pre-paradigmatic candidates). Palermo posits that behavioral psychology ultimately triumphed over all other candidates because 1. it was most successful at standardizing observation across adult humans, young children and animals 2. it eliminated a certain self-report error - subject’s introspection can be seen as behavior, instead of an accurate, unbiased account of the subject and their surroundings, and 3. behavioral psychology was perceived as having more practical applications than its predecessor. Palermo also argues that behavioral psychology is paradigmatic because it leaves related questions like genetics to geneticists. According to Palermo, physical sciences also have a threshold at which they leave questions outside of the immediate discipline to related/overlapping disciplines. Palermo also sees behavioral psychology as paradigmatic because its definition has - and the questions its practitioners ask have - grown more complex over time. Unfortunately, Palermo’s reflexiveness does not work to his advantage. Specifically, his situatedness in the field of psychology weakened his otherwise strong arguments for recognizing psychology as a science in Kuhnian terms.

Westrum argues that scientists have been reluctant to accept popular beliefs as point of entries for new research or inquire. At the end of the 18th and the beginning of the 19th centuries, people started to observe meteors burning in our atmosphere, and subsequent meteorites falling to Earth. Since these were objects completely strange to science - objects for which no prior theory existed - scientists, doubtful of empiricism, rejected them and even radicalized those peer who even tried to research on them. The anomaly was the meteorite, the rock that reached the ground, but not the meteor, the object or phenomenon that crossed the sky on fire. During this period of time, many laypeople had seen the phenomenon of the meteor. However, no savant, as Westrum calls them, had seen the actual rocks falling and reaching the earth. The methodology Westrum uses to approach the case is compelling. The narrative, in the form of a historical account and subsequent sociological explanations, presents a clear case.

Reingold’s discussion surrounds why Structures is not popular within history of science but within other fields. In other words, scholars in other disciplines apply Kuhn’s model to their respective fields without placing it in its own discipline: History of Science. This misappropriation of his work leads to complications of the ways in which History of Science and STS scholarship is used and interpreted elsewhere and, more importantly, the ways in which History of Science was redefined by Kuhn. This problem arises in part because Kuhn’s piece is far more subjective and relativistic in nature in contrast to what the philosophers of science would have like to attribute to current work: basically scholars were holding onto their hopes that the “progress of science” would continue; but Kuhn’s solution to this tension was to explain that each paradigm provided stratifications of “higher logical states,” with linear transitions from one paradigm to the next (484). This leads to discussion surrounding what history of science has become. At the time, Reingold felt that “the emerging consensus does not regard history of science as part of science nor as an independent domain” (490). Additionally, Reingold wonders whether Kuhn provides practitioners with proper, empirical history: should History of Science really provide a sterile framework for which all subsequent interpretive work is built upon?

Finally, Crane’s piece was the only one of the four we reviewed in which the author was not reflexive about their home discipline. Crane walks us through a very detailed analytical examination of how high energy physics does and does not fit into Kuhnian paradigms. After detailing exactly which version of “paradigm” (Kuhn’s clarification in the Postscript of Structure) she will be using, and the four elements thereof (Symbolic Generalizations, Values, Metaphysical Models, and Exemplars), she lays out her methods. Crane spoke with 23 informants, all theorists with multiple publications, but also notes that surveys of respondents would be useful to explore in greater detail the material she presents. She then details each of the four elements of Kuhn’s paradigm as it relates to high energy physics before looking at whether or not those elements are always present in conjunction with one another. Crane claims that Kuhn’s four elements do not always work in conjunction - that, without a paradigm shift, exemplars, and metaphysical models are gathered, tested, and confirmed or rejected without any disturbance to the values or symbolic generalizations. Additionally, for some periods, exemplars are not present at all: they can be introduced through outside means, such as in the case of quarks. Anomalies and crises have not altered the paradigm of quantum mechanics, but rather have lived and died within it, being accepted or rejected as necessary. This means that the process of cognitive change does not follow the Kuhnian sequence of anomaly-crisis-revolution. Instead, the fundamental principles of the field have not been questioned in decades, while exemplars are rejected if they prove to be untestable or if they are not confirmed. Exemplars that are confirmed provide the building blocks for the development of new exemplars.


Stage 3

Articles:

  • Fuller, Steve. "CSI: Kuhn and Latour." Social Studies of Science (2012)
  • Pinch, T.J. “Kuhn −− The Conservative and Radical Interpretations: Are Some Mertonians ‘Kuhnians’ and Some Kuhnians ‘Mertonians’?” Social Studies of Science 1997 27: 465
  • Sismondo, Sergio. "Fifty years of The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, twenty-five of Science in Action." Social Studies of Science (2012)
  • Wray, K. B. (2003). Is science really a young man's game?. Social Studies of Science, 33(1), 137-149.

Fifty year since Structures provides time enough to analyze its systemic influence on the field of STS through SSS. Highlighting four modern articles allowed for comparison of both thematic and structural characteristics with those that we highlighted in the early era articles.

Structurally, these articles differ from the early era articles in that they are significantly shorter, ranging from 6-17 pages. Contributors include two philosophers: Sergio Sismondo and K. Brad Wray; and both Trevor Pinch and Steve Fuller, classically trained in sociology.
Sismondo, in his editorial summary, reflects on both Kuhn’s Structures and Latour’s Science in Action long-lasting influence on the field of STS. While many since have had doubts about these works’ ability to address complex problems, but Sismondo makes a point that we can both acknowledge the influence of these pieces within ‘genealogies of STS’ without being unidimensional.

Fuller’s short article that was published in the same issue as Sismondo’s short remarks—
a special section of the third issue of SSS in 2012, celebrating the 50th anniversary of The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, by Thomas Kuhn (1962), and the 25th anniversary of Science in Action by Bruno Latour (1987). In it Fuller makes a critical retrospective review of the impact, undeniable indeed, that both T. Kuhn and B. Latour have had in the discipline of Studies of Science and Technology (pp 429, 430). What Fuller argues is that despite the immense popularity of these two books it is necessary to reflect upon their interpretations but above all, upon the real effects they had in the domain of STS.
Regarding Kuhn, Fuller expresses a disappointment as he sees that the interpretation given to SSR wrapped science in isolationism, denying any possibility of external criticism (p 430). Instead of making STS the interdisciplinary consolidation of philosophy of science as a discipline, Kuhn´s book obliterated the possibility of science being scrutinized by outsiders. “Kuhnian scientists”, become blind pursuers of the next paradigm, risking even the production of scientific knowledge itself, having as external actors only ones with specific interests, ultimately shaped according to the political and economical environment, therefore the clear demarcation Fuller makes between the before and after Cold War eras (p 430).
Thanks to Latour, in turn, according to Fuller the concept of science has been atomized, making it unrecognizable either as an institution or as a profession. Science has become a layer in a supra network where there are many constituents, or even stakeholders, both producers and consumers of scientific knowledge This system of networks is interpreted as a market, or as Fuller states, “The Market” (p 431).
Fuller makes an analysis not only of the epistemological heritage that Kuhn and Latour have left for STS practitioners, but also situates both authors in their own environment. Kuhn´s post WWII Harvard, and Latour´s 1970´s France, have markedly influenced their products. Fuller`s exercise of critically and openly reflecting upon two of the major thinkers in STS, certainly brings a new optic to the field. It comes by as precisely what STS is supposed to carry about: the capacity to scrutinize, to analyze and to become a driving force for the bettering of scientific knowledge. Pondering about the epistemological scaffold of STS should be a way to better its practice and to help the discipline to fulfill its goal.

Pinch’s article describes two different camps of interpretation for Kuhn’s paradigms, the Conservative and the Radical, and compares them to the (then rising in popularity) Mertonian normative school of thought. He describes the Conservative interpretation of the term paradigm as “facilitat(ing) the separation of the description of scientists’ social activity from the description of their cognitive activity” and the radical interpretation as “emphasis(ing) the integration of, and holistic nature of cognitive and social activity in science.” (Pinch 466) At the forefront of the conservative interpretation was Kuhn himself who, in his postscript to SSR wrote that “A paradigm… us what the members of a scientific community, and they alone, share” (Kuhn 1974: 460) and Pinch notes that such a definition entails a “firm dividing line between the cognitive and social elements of science” (466-467). Following this, Pinch then compares the conservative interpretation to Merton, using Merton’s own words and finds that “In view of the compatibility of Merton’s work with conservative interpretation of Kuhn it would seem to be misguided to drive a wedge between “kuhnian” sociology of science and “Mertonian” sociology of science” (470).
The radical interpretation seeks to remove the separation of the social and cognitive parts, because each part only makes sense within the context of the paradigm as a whole (473). As this style of interpreting paradigms is more generally considered more “interpretive” than “normative,” Pinch claims that while the Conservative interpretation is compatible with Merton, that the radical is not. And as Kuhn himself has made his position clearer over time, aligning himself with the conservative camp, and with the close links between Merton and Kuhn, Pinch argues that the term “Kuhnian” sociology of science, as a description of a particular body of work, be laid to rest. In his epilogue, written 16 years later, he notes that his suggestion has come to pass. He notes that while Kuhn is still cited, his paradigms no longer carry the weight they once did (478), and that the field is moving away from him in several directions. He notes that Kuhn’s work may not be at the center of sociological debates anymore, but his influence lives on, as “It was Kuhn who showed us how to bridge one of the great divides in the modern world — that between ideas and actions” (479).

Wray seeks to test the oft-made hypothesis that the greatest scientific and technological discoveries are made by young innovators; not by older scientists stuck in an outdated paradigm. Wray posits that this theory exists because of “three different, though compatible, interpretations:”

“First, some have suggested that older scientists are resistant to change (Kuhn, 1996; Hull et al., 1978) […] Second, others have suggested that young scientists are especially productive (Cole, 1979). Third, some have suggested that young scientists are more likely to make significant discoveries than are older scientists (Lehman, 1953; Kuhn, 1996)” (Wray 137).

Wray goes on to “[…] examine [Kuhn’s] hypothesis in light of his own data […]” (140) by collecting a sample of all 24 scientists from Kuhn’s Structure, and analyzing data about the date - and their age - at the time they made their discoveries. He concludes that “[…] the median age of scientific revolutionaries is 38 […] the mean is 37.4.” (143). According to Wray, these ages are not quite representative of the type of youth Kuhn suggests. Then, Wray compares the data from Structure against the total population of scientists for each year of discovery. From this, he finds that young scientists (ages 26 to 35) make up far more of the scientific population than do other age groups (nearly half of all scientists - 45%). Wray deduces that young scientists, therefore, are not necessarily the most productive or innovative - there are simply a whole lot of them. From this, he draw the conclusion that we may need to rethink our conceptions of what makes a “revolutionary” scientist.

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