Science and technology are two of the most important forces shaping our lives. At first glance however, it is unclear why sociology would have much to contribute to the debate about scientific facts or technological innovations. We assume, for example, that scientific theories become dominant simply because they are ‘true’, or that technologies become popular simply because they are ‘efficient’. In this class we will learn that the success and failure of scientific and technological innovations depend on social, cultural and political factors. We will examine the social conditions that enable to prove or refute scientific hypothesis, and the social conditions that enable technologies to work smoothly. After covering canonic theoretical approaches in sociology of science and technology, we will take a closer look into key debates in the literature: how do we decide which experts belong in the scientific community and which do not? How do experts from different fields manage to collaborate and work together despite clashing interests, assumptions and vocabularies? How do we turn messy realities into quantifiable data and how to we replace local practices and categories with standard ones? The course will be held in English. Students must prepare to participate and hand-in all written assignments in English.
Week 1: What is technology? Theoretical Approaches to Technology Studies
Cowan, Ruth Schwartz 1985 "How the Refrigerator Got its Hum." in Donald MacKenzie and Judy Wacjman (eds.) The Social Shaping of Technology. Open University Press.
Bijker, Hughes and Pinch (eds.) 1987. “The Social Construction of Technological Systems.” Cambridge: MIT Press. Chapter TBD
Week 2: Thought Collectives: Science As A Social Enterprise
Fleck, Ludwik. 1979. The Genesis and Development of a Scientific Fact. University of Chicago Press.
Week 3: Social Construction of Science
Latour, B. 1987. Science in Action: How to Follow Scientists and Engineers through Society. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
Week 4: Science and Politics
Jasanoff , S. (ed). 2004 States of Knowledge The Co-Production of Science and the Social Order. London: Routledge. Chapter 1: The Idium of Co-Production. Sheila Jasanoff. Chapter 7: Mapping systems and moral order: constituting property in genome laboratories. Stephen Hilgartner
Week 5: Standards and Categories
Star S.L: and M. Lampland. 2008. Standards and their stories: How Quantifying, Classifying, and
Formalizing Practices Shape Everyday Life. Cornell University Press. Chapter 2: Age In Standards
and Standards for Age : Institutionalizing Chronological Age as a Biographical Necessity Judith
Week 6: quantification
Porter, Theodore M. 1995. Trust in Numbers: The Pursuit of Objectivity in Science and Public Life.
Princeton: Princeton University Press. Chapter TBD
Week 7: Boundaries
Gieryn, T.. 1983. "Boundary-Work and the Demarcation of Science from Non-science: Strains and
Interests in Professional Interests of Scientists." American Sociological Review 48: 781-95.
Star, S. L. and J. Griesemer. 1989. “Institutional Ecology: Translations, and Boundary Objects.” Social Studies of Science 19: 387-420.
Week 8: Non Experts?
Epstein, Steven. 1996. Impure Science: AIDS, Activism, and the Politics of Knowledge. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press.
Jasanoff , S. (ed). 2004 States of Knowledge The Co-Production of Science and the Social Order.
London: Routledge. Chapter 9: Circumscribing expertise: membership categories in courtroom
testimony. Michael Lynch