MetaTOC stay on top of your field, easily

Social Studies of Science: An International Review of Research in the Social Dimensions of Science and Technology

Impact factor: 1.77 5-Year impact factor: 2.237 Print ISSN: 0306-3127 Publisher: Sage Publications

Subject: History & Philosophy Of Science

Most recent papers:

  • A material political economy: Automated Trading Desk and price prediction in high-frequency trading.
    MacKenzie, D.
    Social Studies of Science: An International Review of Research in the Social Dimensions of Science and Technology. December 06, 2016

    This article contains the first detailed historical study of one of the new high-frequency trading (HFT) firms that have transformed many of the world’s financial markets. The study, of Automated Trading Desk (ATD), one of the earliest and most important such firms, focuses on how ATD’s algorithms predicted share price changes. The article argues that political-economic struggles are integral to the existence of some of the ‘pockets’ of predictable structure in the otherwise random movements of prices, to the availability of the data that allow algorithms to identify these pockets, and to the capacity of algorithms to use these predictions to trade profitably. The article also examines the role of HFT algorithms such as ATD’s in the epochal, fiercely contested shift in US share trading from ‘fixed-role’ markets towards ‘all-to-all’ markets.

    December 06, 2016   doi: 10.1177/0306312716676900   open full text
  • The Anthropo-scene: A guide for the perplexed.
    Lorimer, J.
    Social Studies of Science: An International Review of Research in the Social Dimensions of Science and Technology. October 27, 2016

    The scientific proposal that the Earth has entered a new epoch as a result of human activities – the Anthropocene – has catalysed a flurry of intellectual activity. I introduce and review the rich, inchoate and multi-disciplinary diversity of this Anthropo-scene. I identify five ways in which the concept of the Anthropocene has been mobilized: scientific question, intellectual zeitgeist, ideological provocation, new ontologies and science fiction. This typology offers an analytical framework for parsing this diversity, for understanding the interactions between different ways of thinking in the Anthropo-scene, and thus for comprehending elements of its particular and peculiar sociabilities. Here I deploy this framework to situate Earth Systems Science within the Anthropo-scene, exploring both the status afforded science in discussions of this new epoch, and the various ways in which the other means of engaging with the concept come to shape the conduct, content and politics of this scientific enquiry. In conclusion the paper reflects on the potential of the Anthropocene for new modes of academic praxis.

    October 27, 2016   doi: 10.1177/0306312716671039   open full text
  • The informational turn in food politics: The US FDAs nutrition label as information infrastructure.
    Frohlich, X.
    Social Studies of Science: An International Review of Research in the Social Dimensions of Science and Technology. October 27, 2016

    This article traces the history of the US FDA regulation of nutrition labeling, identifying an ‘informational turn’ in the evolving politics of food, diet and health in America. Before nutrition labeling was introduced, regulators actively sought to segregate food markets from drug markets by largely prohibiting health information on food labels, believing such information would ‘confuse’ the ordinary food consumer. Nutrition labeling’s emergence, first in the 1970s as consumer empowerment and then later in the 1990s as a solution to information overload, reflected the belief that it was better to manage markets indirectly through consumer information than directly through command-and-control regulatory architecture. By studying product labels as ‘information infrastructure’, rather than a ‘knowledge fix’, the article shows how labels are situated at the center of a legally constructed terrain of inter-textual references, both educational and promotional, that reflects a mix of market pragmatism and evolving legal thought about mass versus niche markets. A change to the label reaches out across a wide informational environment representing food and has direct material consequences for how food is produced, distributed, and consumed. One legacy of this informational turn has been an increasing focus by policymakers, industry, and arguably consumers on the politics of information in place of the politics of the food itself.

    October 27, 2016   doi: 10.1177/0306312716671223   open full text
  • Search engine imaginary: Visions and values in the co-production of search technology and Europe.
    Mager, A.
    Social Studies of Science: An International Review of Research in the Social Dimensions of Science and Technology. October 27, 2016

    This article discusses the co-production of search technology and a European identity in the context of the EU data protection reform. The negotiations of the EU data protection legislation ran from 2012 until 2015 and resulted in a unified data protection legislation directly binding for all European member states. I employ a discourse analysis to examine EU policy documents and Austrian media materials related to the reform process. Using the concept ‘sociotechnical imaginary’, I show how a European imaginary of search engines is forming in the EU policy domain, how a European identity is constructed in the envisioned politics of control, and how national specificities contribute to the making and unmaking of a European identity. I discuss the roles that national technopolitical identities play in shaping both search technology and Europe, taking as an example Austria, a small country with a long history in data protection and a tradition of restrained technology politics.

    October 27, 2016   doi: 10.1177/0306312716671433   open full text
  • Habituating field scientists.
    Alcayna-Stevens, L.
    Social Studies of Science: An International Review of Research in the Social Dimensions of Science and Technology. October 20, 2016

    This article explores the sensory dimensions of scientific field research in the only region in the world where free-ranging bonobos (Pan paniscus) can be studied in their natural environment; the equatorial rainforest of the Democratic Republic of Congo. If, as sensory anthropologists have argued, the senses are developed, grown and honed in a given cultural and environmental milieu, how is it that field scientists come to dwell among familiarity in a world which is, at first, unfamiliar? This article builds upon previous anthropological and philosophical engagements with habituation that have critically examined primatologists’ attempts to become ‘neutral objects in the environment’ in order to habituate wild apes to their presence. It does so by tracing the somatic modes of attention developed by European and North American researchers as they follow bonobos in these forests. The argument is that as environments, beings and their elements become familiar, they do not become ‘neutral’, but rather, suffused with meaning.

    October 20, 2016   doi: 10.1177/0306312716669251   open full text
  • A fragile assemblage: Mutant bird flu and the limits of risk assessment.
    Lakoff, A.
    Social Studies of Science: An International Review of Research in the Social Dimensions of Science and Technology. October 12, 2016

    This paper examines the recent public controversy sparked by the laboratory creation of a strain of highly pathogenic avian influenza transmissible among mammals. The contours of the controversy can be understood by tracking the assemblage of actors, institutions and devices gathered together in response to the governmental problem of how to manage emerging diseases. The grouping is tenuously held together by a shared commitment to the project of ‘pandemic preparedness’. However, as the controversy unfolds, it becomes clear that the main actors involved do not share a common understanding of the problem to be addressed by pandemic preparedness, and the assemblage threatens to decompose. At the center of the dispute is the question of how to assess the risks and benefits of research in field characterized by urgency and uncertainty.

    October 12, 2016   doi: 10.1177/0306312716666420   open full text
  • From academic laboratory to the market: Disclosed and undisclosed narratives of commercialization.
    Sapir, A., Oliver, A. L.
    Social Studies of Science: An International Review of Research in the Social Dimensions of Science and Technology. October 12, 2016

    This paper examines how the Weizmann Institute of Science has been telling the story of the successful commercialization of a scientific invention, through its corporate communication channels, from the early 1970s to today. The paper aims to shed light on the transformation processes by which intellectual-property-based commercialization activities have become widely institutionalized in universities all over the world, and on the complexities, ambiguities and tensions surrounding this transition. We look at the story of the scientific invention of Copolymer-1 at the Weizmann Institute of Science and its licensing to Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, which subsequently developed the highly successful drug Copaxone for the treatment of multiple sclerosis. We argue that, in its tellings and retellings of the story of Copolymer-1, the Weizmann Institute has created narratives that serve to legitimize the institution of academic patenting in Israel.

    October 12, 2016   doi: 10.1177/0306312716667647   open full text
  • Extra-terra incognita: Martian maps in the digital age.
    Messeri, L.
    Social Studies of Science: An International Review of Research in the Social Dimensions of Science and Technology. October 06, 2016

    Science and technology studies (STS) and critical cartography are both asking questions about the ontological fixity of maps and other scientific objects. This paper examines how a group of NASA computer scientists who call themselves The Mapmakers conceptualizes and creates maps in service of different commitments. The maps under construction are those of alien Mars, produced through partnerships that NASA has established with Google and Microsoft. With the goal of bringing an experience of Mars to as many people as possible, these maps influence how we imagine our neighbouring planet. This paper analyzes two attributes of the map, evident in both its representation and the attending cartographic practices: a sense of Mars as dynamic and a desire for a democratic experience of Mars in which up-to-date Mars data can be intuitively accessed not only by scientists but by lay users as well. Whereas a democratic Mars promises users the ability to decide how to interact with the map and understand Mars, dynamic Mars imposes a more singular sense of Mars as a target of continued robotic and maybe even human exploration. Because maps of Mars have a different (and arguably less complex) set of social and political commitments than those of Earth, they help us see how different goals contradict and complement each other in matters of exploration and state-craft relevant both to other worlds and our own.

    October 06, 2016   doi: 10.1177/0306312716656820   open full text
  • The problem of epistemic jurisdiction in global governance: The case of sustainability standards for biofuels.
    Winickoff, D. E., Mondou, M.
    Social Studies of Science: An International Review of Research in the Social Dimensions of Science and Technology. October 06, 2016

    While there is ample scholarly work on regulatory science within the state, or single-sited global institutions, there is less on its operation within complex modes of global governance that are decentered, overlapping, multi-sectorial and multi-leveled. Using a co-productionist framework, this study identifies ‘epistemic jurisdiction’ – the power to produce or warrant technical knowledge for a given political community, topical arena or geographical territory – as a central problem for regulatory science in complex governance. We explore these dynamics in the arena of global sustainability standards for biofuels. We select three institutional fora as sites of inquiry: the European Union’s Renewable Energy Directive, the Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials, and the International Organization for Standardization. These cases allow us to analyze how the co-production of sustainability science responds to problems of epistemic jurisdiction in the global regulatory order. First, different problems of epistemic jurisdiction beset different standard-setting bodies, and these problems shape both the content of regulatory science and the procedures designed to make it authoritative. Second, in order to produce global regulatory science, technical bodies must manage an array of conflicting imperatives – including scientific virtue, due process and the need to recruit adoptees to perpetuate the standard. At different levels of governance, standard drafters struggle to balance loyalties to country, to company or constituency and to the larger project of internationalization. Confronted with these sometimes conflicting pressures, actors across the standards system quite self-consciously maneuver to build or retain authority for their forum through a combination of scientific adjustment and political negotiation. Third, the evidentiary demands of regulatory science in global administrative spaces are deeply affected by 1) a market for standards, in which firms and states can choose the cheapest sustainability certification, and 2) the international trade regime, in which the long shadow of WTO law exerts a powerful disciplining function.

    October 06, 2016   doi: 10.1177/0306312716667855   open full text
  • The depth of fields: Managing focus in the epistemic subcultures of mind and brain science.
    Peterson, D.
    Social Studies of Science: An International Review of Research in the Social Dimensions of Science and Technology. August 29, 2016

    The ‘psy’ sciences emerged from the tangled roots of philosophy, physiology, biology and medicine, and these origins have produced heterogeneous fields. Scientists in these areas work in a complex, overlapping ecology of fields that results in the constant co-presence of dissonant theories, methods and research objects. This raises questions regarding how conceptual clarity is maintained. Using the optical metaphor ‘depth of field’, I show how researchers in all fields marginalize potential threats to routine scientific work by framing them as either too broad and imprecise or too narrow and technical. The appearance of this defocusing and devaluing across sites suggests a general aspect of scientific cognition, rather than a by-product of any specific scientific dispute.

    August 29, 2016   doi: 10.1177/0306312716663047   open full text
  • Academic judgments under uncertainty: A study of collective anchoring effects in Swedish Research Council panel groups.
    Roumbanis, L.
    Social Studies of Science: An International Review of Research in the Social Dimensions of Science and Technology. August 23, 2016

    This article focuses on anchoring effects in the process of peer reviewing research proposals. Anchoring effects are commonly seen as the result of flaws in human judgment, as cognitive biases that stem from specific heuristics that guide people when they involve their intuition in solving a problem. Here, the cognitive biases will be analyzed from a sociological point of view, as interactional and aggregated phenomena. The article is based on direct observations of ten panel groups evaluating research proposals in the natural and engineering sciences for the Swedish Research Council. The analysis suggests that collective anchoring effects emerge as a result of the combination of the evaluation techniques that are being used (grading scales and average ranking) and the efforts of the evaluators to reach consensus in the face of disagreements and uncertainty in the group. What many commentators and evaluators have interpreted as an element of chance in the peer review process may also be understood as partly a result of the dynamic aspects of collective anchoring effects.

    August 23, 2016   doi: 10.1177/0306312716659789   open full text
  • Zombie projects, negative networks, and multigenerational science: The temporality of the International Map of the World.
    Rankin, W.
    Social Studies of Science: An International Review of Research in the Social Dimensions of Science and Technology. August 19, 2016

    The International Map of the World was a hugely ambitious scheme to create standardized maps of the entire world. It was first proposed in 1891 and remained a going concern until 1986. Over the course of the project’s official life, nearly every country in the world took part, and map sheets were published showing all but a few areas of the planet. But the project ended quite unceremoniously, repudiated by cartographers and mapping institutions alike, and it is now remembered as a ‘sad story’ of network failure. How can we evaluate this kind of sprawling, multigenerational project? In order to move beyond practitioners’ (and historians’) habit of summarizing the entire endeavor using the blunt categories of success and failure, I propose a more temporally aware reading, one that both disaggregates the (persistent) project from the (always changing) network and sees project and network as invertible, with the possibility of zombie projects and negative networks that can remain robust even when disconnected from their original goals. I therefore see the abandonment of the International Map of the World as resulting from vigorous collaboration and new norms in cartography, not from lack of cooperation or other resources. New categories are required for analyzing science over the long durée.

    August 19, 2016   doi: 10.1177/0306312716658138   open full text
  • Benevolent technotopias and hitherto unimaginable meats: Tracing the promises of in vitro meat.
    Jönsson, E.
    Social Studies of Science: An International Review of Research in the Social Dimensions of Science and Technology. August 19, 2016

    Today, in vitro (Latin: in glass) meat researchers strive to overhaul meat production technologies by producing meat outside animal bodies, primarily by culturing cells. In the process, meat should become healthier, more environmentally friendly and kinder to animals. In this article, I scrutinize (and problematize) this promissory discourse by examining the world that proponents envision alongside the world from which promises emerge. First, I trace the increasing number of publications striving to pinpoint the nature of in vitro meat to unveil the creation of an in vitro meat canon wherein perceived possibilities become taken for granted. Second, I investigate how the promissory discourse is often relatively silent on key aspects of how this technology could remake the world. Wet laboratories, animals and end products become foregrounded at the expense of political economy and the biophysical properties of cultured cells. Thus, questions concerning how funding requirements shape representations of this new technology, together with in vitro meat’s particular socio-spatial and socio-ecological implications, become problematically de-emphasized.

    August 19, 2016   doi: 10.1177/0306312716658561   open full text
  • Econometrics as evidence? Examining the 'causal connections between financial speculation and commodities prices.
    Williams, J. W., Cook, N. M.
    Social Studies of Science: An International Review of Research in the Social Dimensions of Science and Technology. August 19, 2016

    One of the lasting legacies of the financial crisis of 2008, and the legislative energies that followed from it, is the growing reliance on econometrics as part of the rulemaking process. Financial regulators are increasingly expected to rationalize proposed rules using available econometric techniques, and the courts have vacated several key rules emanating from Dodd-Frank on the grounds of alleged deficiencies in this evidentiary effort. The turn toward such econometric tools is seen as a significant constraint on and challenge to regulators as they endeavor to engage with such essential policy questions as the impact of financial speculation on food security. Yet, outside of the specialized practitioner community, very little is known about these techniques. This article examines one such econometric test, Granger causality, and its role in a pivotal Dodd-Frank rulemaking. Through an examination of the test for Granger causality and its attempts to distill the causal connections between financial speculation and commodities prices, the article argues that econometrics is a blunt but useful tool, limited in its ability to provide decisive insights into commodities markets and yet yielding useful returns for those who are able to wield it.

    August 19, 2016   doi: 10.1177/0306312716658980   open full text
  • Beams of particles and papers: How digital preprint archives shape authorship and credit.
    Delfanti, A.
    Social Studies of Science: An International Review of Research in the Social Dimensions of Science and Technology. August 19, 2016

    In high energy physics, scholarly papers circulate primarily through online preprint archives based on a centralized repository, arXiv, that physicists simply refer to as ‘the archive’. The archive is not just a tool for preservation and memory but also a space of flows where written objects are detected and their authors made available for scrutiny. In this article, I analyze the reading and publishing practices of two subsets of high energy physicists: theorists and experimentalists. In order to be recognized as legitimate and productive members of their community, they need to abide by the temporalities and authorial practices structured by the archive. Theorists live in a state of accelerated time that shapes their reading and publishing practices around precise cycles. Experimentalists turn to tactics that allow them to circumvent the slowed-down time and invisibility they experience as members of large collaborations. As digital platforms for the exchange of scholarly articles emerge in other fields, high energy physics could help shed light on general transformations of contemporary scholarly communication systems.

    August 19, 2016   doi: 10.1177/0306312716659373   open full text
  • The maternal body as environment in autism science.
    Lappe, M.
    Social Studies of Science: An International Review of Research in the Social Dimensions of Science and Technology. August 19, 2016

    Research on autism and environmental risk factors has expanded substantially in recent years. My analysis draws attention to the regimes of perceptibility that shape how the environment is materialized in post-genomic science. I focus on how more complex narratives of autism’s causes and social anxieties surrounding child development have helped situate autism risk in women’s bodies before and during pregnancy. This has resulted in what I call the maternal body as environment in autism science. I show that this figure involves three characteristics: the molecularization of the environment, an individualization of risk, and the internalization of responsibility. I argue that these three features point to a new spatial and temporal politics of risk and responsibility that may heighten social and medical surveillance of women’s bodies and decisions, eclipsing larger questions about the uneven distribution of exposures in society and more holistic understandings of health that include neurodiversity. I conclude by considering what the maternal body as environment signals for women, social justice, and the politics of environmental health in the post-genomic era.

    August 19, 2016   doi: 10.1177/0306312716659372   open full text
  • Innovation by coercion: Emerging institutionalization of university-industry collaborations in Russia.
    Bychkova, O.
    Social Studies of Science: An International Review of Research in the Social Dimensions of Science and Technology. July 21, 2016

    This article explores the emerging institutionalization of collaborative university–industry networks in Russia. The Russian government has attempted to use a top-down public policy scheme to stimulate and promote network-building in the R&D sector. In order to understand the initial organizational responses that universities and companies select while structuring collaborations, the article utilizes conceptual perspectives from institutional theory, especially drawing on arguments from strategic choice, network-building, and network failure studies.

    July 21, 2016   doi: 10.1177/0306312716654768   open full text
  • Discarded surrogates, modified traditions, welcome complements: The chequered careers of alternative technologies in Berlins infrastructure systems.
    Moss, T.
    Social Studies of Science: An International Review of Research in the Social Dimensions of Science and Technology. July 15, 2016

    This article takes an historical perspective on current attempts to ‘open up’ established, centralized systems of urban infrastructure to alternative technologies designed to minimize resource use and environmental pollution. The process of introducing alternative technologies into, or alongside, centralized urban infrastructures is not a novel phenomenon, as is often assumed. The physical and institutional entrenchment of large technical systems for urban energy, water or sanitation services in industrialized countries in the late 19th and early 20th centuries did not close the door completely on alternatives. I investigate a number of alternative technologies used in Berlin in the interwar period (1920–1939), in order to reveal the rationales developed around each technology and the ways in which each emerged, disappeared and re-emerged or survived across highly diverse political regimes. The selection of cases is guided by the desire to illustrate three different phenomena of alternative technology diffusion (and exclusion) experienced in Berlin: (1) technologies promoted by early pioneers and discarded by their successors (waste-to-energy), (2) technologies modifying traditional practices that were at odds with modernized systems (wastewater reuse for agriculture) and (3) technologies co-existing alongside the dominant centralized system throughout the 20th century (cogeneration). The empirical findings are interpreted with reference to their contribution to scholarship on urban socio-technical transitions.

    July 15, 2016   doi: 10.1177/0306312716657205   open full text
  • At home in the postcolony: Ecology, empire and domesticity at the Lamto field station, Ivory Coast.
    Lachenal, G.
    Social Studies of Science: An International Review of Research in the Social Dimensions of Science and Technology. June 29, 2016

    This article is a history of the field station Lamto, in Ivory Coast, which was created by French ecologists in 1962, after independence. It retraces the origins, the logics and the contradictions of an extraordinarily ambitious scientific project, which aimed at the systematic, holistic, quantitative and multi-disciplinary description of a unit of African nature – the savannah ecosystem. It explores how knowledge-making was articulated with work hierarchies and postcolonial politics, lifestyles, values and affects. It reconstitutes the political ecology of a research station in ecology, following in its residences, laboratories and open-air experiments the co-production of domesticity, nature, science and (post-)colonial situations.

    June 29, 2016   doi: 10.1177/0306312716649800   open full text
  • Field station as stage: Re-enacting scientific work and life in Amani, Tanzania.
    Geissler, P. W., Kelly, A. H.
    Social Studies of Science: An International Review of Research in the Social Dimensions of Science and Technology. June 29, 2016

    Located high in Tanzania’s Usambara Mountains, Amani Hill Station has been a site of progressive scientific endeavours for over a century, pushing the boundaries of botanical, zoological and medical knowledge, and providing expertise for imperial expansion, colonial welfare, national progress and international development efforts. The station’s heyday was from the 1950s to the 1970s, a period of global disease eradication campaigns and the ‘Africanization’ of science. Today, Amani lies in a state of suspended motion. Officially part of a national network of medical research stations, its buildings and vegetation are only minimally maintained, and although some staff report for duty, scientific work has ceased. Neither ruin nor time capsule, Amani has become a quiet site of remains and material traces. This article examines the methodological potentials of re-enactment – on-site performances of past research practices – to engage ethnographically with the distinct temporalities and affective registers of life at the station. The heuristic power of re-enactment resides in its anachronicity, the tensions it introduces between immediacy and theatricality, authenticity and artifice, fidelity and futility. We suggest that re-enacting early post-colonial science as events unfolding in the present disrupts straightforward narratives about the promises and shortfalls of scientific progress, raising provocative questions about the sentiments and stakes of research in ‘the tropics’.

    June 29, 2016   doi: 10.1177/0306312716650045   open full text
  • Using the prisms of gender and rank to interpret research collaboration power dynamics.
    Gaughan, M., Bozeman, B.
    Social Studies of Science: An International Review of Research in the Social Dimensions of Science and Technology. June 29, 2016

    Collaboration is central to modern scientific inquiry, and increasingly important to the professional experiences of academic scientists. While the effects of collaboration have been widely studied, much less is understood about the motivations to collaborate and collaboration dynamics that generate scientific outcomes. A particular interest of this study is to understand how collaboration experiences differ between women and men, and the attributions used to explain these differences. We use a multi-method study of university Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics faculty research collaborators. We employ 177 anonymous open-ended responses to a web-based survey, and 60 semi-structured interviews of academic scientists in US research universities. We find similarities and differences in collaborative activity between men and women. Open-ended qualitative textual analysis suggests that some of these differences are attributed to power dynamics – both general ones related to differences in organizational status, and in power dynamics related specifically to gender. In analysis of semi-structured interviews, we find that both status and gender were used as interpretive frames for collaborative behavior, with more emphasis placed on status than gender differences. Overall, the findings support that gender structures some part of the collaborative experience, but that status hierarchy exerts more clear effects.

    June 29, 2016   doi: 10.1177/0306312716652249   open full text
  • Of Spheres and Squares: Can Sloterdijk help us rethink the architecture of climate science?
    Skrydstrup, M.
    Social Studies of Science: An International Review of Research in the Social Dimensions of Science and Technology. June 10, 2016

    This article explores how different visions and values of science translate into different architectural shapes. I bring Peter Sloterdijk’s ‘spherology’ to bear on my ethnographic fieldwork at the NEEM ice core base in Greenland, a significant node in the global infrastructure of climate science. I argue that the visual form of the geodesic dome of the camp materializes specific values and visions of this branch of paleoclimate science, which I elaborate vis-a-vis the pragmatic claims of the scientists/designers and the particular architectural history of Danish ice core drilling in Greenland. I argue that this aesthetic history articulates with Buckminster Fuller’s ideas of a ‘new nature’ and ‘scalar connections’ encapsulated in his geodesic form. Second, I argue that the aesthetic production of space in the camp replicates the modern distinction between science and society, in so far as the lab space is rectangular and the recreational space is spherical. Third, I argue that NEEM scientists and Sloterdijk are essentially engaged in a common project: the scientists work hard to align air bubbles in the cores with atmospheric fluctuations in the hemisphere on the evidentiary terrain of ice, and Sloterdijk attempts to connect micro-uteri with macro-uteri in an attempt to fundamentally rethink space. Fuller’s notion of ‘Spaceship Earth’, appropriated by Sloterdijk in his thinking about anthropogenic climate change, lends itself well to capturing the scalar alignments and the isolated NEEM base – on a mission to save planet Earth. In conclusion, I argue that Sloterdijk’s spherology may serve as a point of departure for rethinking the aesthetic grammar of the architecture of science.

    June 10, 2016   doi: 10.1177/0306312716647214   open full text
  • 'Crackpots and 'active researchers: The controversy over links between arXiv and the scientific blogosphere.
    Ritson, S.
    Social Studies of Science: An International Review of Research in the Social Dimensions of Science and Technology. June 06, 2016

    Controversies over string theory (collectively termed the ‘string wars’) intensified in 2005. Also in that year, the open-access preprint publisher arXiv instituted a new feature called a ‘trackback’. This new feature enabled authors of blog posts discussing a paper on arXiv to leave a trackback (a link) to the post on the paper’s abstract page on arXiv. The determination of which specific bloggers would have access to the feature generated a public controversy that was played out in the blogosphere. Although the community was in almost unanimous agreement that so-called ‘crackpots’ should not have access to the trackback feature, it was unable to reach a consensus as to how to define a ‘crackpot’ or an ‘active researcher’. Blogs may provide a window into science in the making, yet this study shows that blogs confound categorization as permanent or ephemeral scholarly communication. The trackback feature was originally conceived to develop certain blog discourse as an alternative or complementary form of peer review. However, the high-energy physics community as a whole questions the ongoing function of the blog.

    June 06, 2016   doi: 10.1177/0306312716647508   open full text
  • Automating the Horae: Boundary-work in the age of computers.
    Reyes-Galindo, L.
    Social Studies of Science: An International Review of Research in the Social Dimensions of Science and Technology. April 29, 2016

    This article describes the intense software filtering that has allowed the arXiv e-print repository to sort and process large numbers of submissions with minimal human intervention, making it one of the most important and influential cases of open access repositories to date. This article narrates arXiv’s transformation, using sophisticated sorting/filtering algorithms to decrease human workload, from a small mailing list used by a few hundred researchers to a site that processes thousands of papers per month. However, there are significant negative consequences for authors who have been filtered out of arXiv’s main categories. There is thus a continued need to check and balance arXiv’s boundaries, based on the essential tension between stability and innovation.

    April 29, 2016   doi: 10.1177/0306312716642317   open full text
  • Science as national belonging: The construction of Svalbard as a Norwegian space.
    Roberts, P., Paglia, E.
    Social Studies of Science: An International Review of Research in the Social Dimensions of Science and Technology. April 25, 2016

    This article examines how science has been employed to establish, maintain, and contest senses of belonging on Svalbard, an Arctic archipelago administered by Norway since 1925 under an international treaty. Our central argument is that the process of constructing Svalbard as a space belonging to Norway has long been intertwined with the processes of describing and representing the archipelago and that participating in those processes has also permitted other states to articulate their own narratives of belonging – on Svalbard in particular and in the Arctic more generally. We deploy the concept of belonging to capture a sense of legitimate presence and stakeholdership that we do not believe can be adequately captured by narrow concepts of sovereignty. Norway’s historic and current use of science validates (and even naturalizes) its rule over Svalbard. At the same time, other states use science on Svalbard to articulate geopolitical scripts that portray them as stakeholders in an Arctic that is of transregional relevance due to the effects of climate change.

    April 25, 2016   doi: 10.1177/0306312716639153   open full text
  • Innovating public participation methods: Technoscientization and reflexive engagement.
    Voss, J.-P., Amelung, N.
    Social Studies of Science: An International Review of Research in the Social Dimensions of Science and Technology. April 25, 2016

    We reconstruct the innovation journey of ‘citizen panels’, as a family of participation methods, over four decades and across different sites of development and application. A process of aggregation leads from local practices of designing participatory procedures like the citizens jury, planning cell, or consensus conference in the 1970s and 1980s, to the disembedding and proliferation of procedural formats in the 1990s, and into the trans-local consolidation of participatory practices through laboratory-based expertise since about 2000. Our account highlights a central irony: anti-technocratic engagements with governance gave birth to efforts at establishing technoscientific control over questions of political procedure. But such efforts have been met with various forms of reflexive engagement that draw out implications and turn design questions back into matters of concern. An emerging informal assessment regime for technologies of participation as yet prevents closure on one dominant global design for democracy beyond the state.

    April 25, 2016   doi: 10.1177/0306312716641350   open full text
  • Shifting in and out of context: Technoscientific drama as technology of the self.
    Möllers, N.
    Social Studies of Science: An International Review of Research in the Social Dimensions of Science and Technology. April 10, 2016

    Scientific and technological demonstrations are usually used to create credibility for scientific claims or to demonstrate the utility of technical devices. However, they can also function as dramatic instances of boundary work. Drawing on an ethnographic study of the development of an automated video surveillance system, I show how a government-funded, transdisciplinary group of researchers used theatrical practices when communicating to the funding institution, to stage their work as applicable. Their ‘technoscientific drama’ did not primarily produce credibility for their surveillance system’s utility, but more powerfully established the researchers’ credibility as ‘scientist-entrepreneurs’.

    April 10, 2016   doi: 10.1177/0306312716638951   open full text
  • The hospital and the hospital: Infrastructure, human tissue, labour and the scientific production of relational value.
    Street, A.
    Social Studies of Science: An International Review of Research in the Social Dimensions of Science and Technology. April 06, 2016

    How does science make a home for itself in a public hospital? This article explores how scientists working in ‘resource poor’ contexts of global health negotiate relationships with their hosts, in this case the doctors, nurses and patients who already inhabit a provincial-level hospital. Taking its lead from recent works on science, ethics and development, this article seeks to ‘provincialize the laboratory’ by focussing on the scientific tropics as a space of productive encounter and engagement. A view from the hospital reveals the tenuous process of ‘setting up’ a place for science, in a world that does not immediately recognize its value. The article examines the material exchanges of infrastructure, bodily tissues and labour that enable one young scientist to establish a scientific life for himself. The success of those transactions, it argues, ultimately derives from their objectification of scientific vulnerability and their enactment of relationships of mutual recognition. As opposed to asking how scientific knowledge is produced in the tropics, the view from the hospital challenges us to focus on the establishment of relationships between scientists and their hosts as a productive endeavour in its own right.

    April 06, 2016   doi: 10.1177/0306312716638953   open full text
  • Higher and colder: The success and failure of boundaries in high altitude and Antarctic research stations.
    Heggie, V.
    Social Studies of Science: An International Review of Research in the Social Dimensions of Science and Technology. March 21, 2016

    This article offers a series of case studies of field stations and field laboratories based at high altitudes in the Alps, Himalayas and Antarctica, which have been used by Western scientists (largely physiologists and physicists) from circa 1820 to present. It rejects the common frame for work on such spaces that polarizes a set of generalizations about practices undertaken in ‘the field’ versus ‘the laboratory’. Field sites are revealed as places that can be used to highlight common and crucial features of modern experimental science that are exposed by, but not uniquely the properties of, fieldwork. This includes heterogeneity of population and practice, diverse afterlives, the manner in which spaces of science construct individual and group expertise, and the extensive support and funding structures needed for modern scientific work.

    March 21, 2016   doi: 10.1177/0306312716636249   open full text
  • Making climates comparable: Comparison in paleoclimatology.
    Schinkel, W.
    Social Studies of Science: An International Review of Research in the Social Dimensions of Science and Technology. March 15, 2016

    This article foregrounds comparison as a key practice in science by discussing the case of chronological comparability in paleoclimatology. Based on an ethnographic study of a paleoclimate research project, I illustrate how paleoclimatologists are able to produce comparative data on and images of past climates through the use of ‘proxies’. I focus on the calibration of a type of algae as a proxy for climate variables. Such comparability is one illustration of the myriad ways in which relatively standardized forms of comparison underlie conceptions of ‘climate change’ and of ‘climate’ itself. The work of comparison discussed here has relevance for a variety of practices of qualification, quantification, monitoring, and evaluation.

    March 15, 2016   doi: 10.1177/0306312716633537   open full text
  • A correlative STS: Lessons from a Chinese medical practice.
    Lin, W.-y., Law, J.
    Social Studies of Science: An International Review of Research in the Social Dimensions of Science and Technology. May 19, 2014

    How might Science and Technology Studies learn more from the intersection between ‘Western’ and ‘other’ forms of knowledge? In this article, we use Eduardo Viveiros de Castro’s writing on equivocal translation to explore a moment of encounter in a Chinese Medical consultation in Taiwan in which a practitioner hybridizes Chinese Medicine and biomedicine. Our description is symmetrical, but creates a descriptive equivocation in which ‘Western’ analytical terms are used to describe a ‘Chinese’ medical reality. Drawing on the history of Chinese Medicine, we argue that the latter is not analytical, but ‘correlative’ in a specifically ‘Chinese’ manner that explores patternings, flows, and propensities in local collections of things and symptoms. In particular, it both handles difference without seeking to unearth stable causal mechanisms and absorbs new elements including relevant features of biomedicine. We conclude by briefly considering the scope of a possible post-colonial and ‘correlative’ STS and show that a ‘correlative’ description of the same Chinese Medical consultation would differ markedly from one making use of ‘Western’ analytical assumptions.

    May 19, 2014   doi: 10.1177/0306312714531325   open full text
  • Description of sex difference as prescription for sex change: On the origins of facial feminization surgery.
    Plemons, E. D.
    Social Studies of Science: An International Review of Research in the Social Dimensions of Science and Technology. May 14, 2014

    This article explores the research project that led to the development of facial feminization surgery, a set of bone and soft tissue reconstructive surgical procedures intended to feminize the faces of male-to-female trans- women. Conducted by a pioneering surgeon in the mid-1980s, this research consisted of three steps: (1) assessments of sexual differences of the skull taken from early 20th-century physical anthropology, (2) the application of statistical analyses taken from late 20th-century orthodontic research, and (3) the vetting of this new morphological and metric knowledge in a dry skull collection. When the ‘feminine type’ of early 20th-century physical anthropology was made to articulate with the ‘female mean’ of 1970s’ statistical analysis, these two very different epistemological artifacts worked together to produce something new: a singular model of a distinctively female skull. In this article, I show how the development of facial feminization surgery worked across epistemic styles, transforming historically racialized and gendered descriptions of sex difference into contemporary surgical prescriptions for sex change. Fundamental to this transformation was an explicit invocation of the scientific origins of facial sexual dimorphism, a claim that frames surgical sex change of the face as not only possible, but objectively certain.

    May 14, 2014   doi: 10.1177/0306312714531349   open full text
  • Ambivalence, equivocation and the politics of experimental knowledge: A transdisciplinary neuroscience encounter.
    Fitzgerald, D., Littlefield, M. M., Knudsen, K. J., Tonks, J., Dietz, M. J.
    Social Studies of Science: An International Review of Research in the Social Dimensions of Science and Technology. May 14, 2014

    This article is about a transdisciplinary project between the social, human and life sciences, and the felt experiences of the researchers involved. ‘Transdisciplinary’ and ‘interdisciplinary’ research-modes have been the subject of much attention lately – especially as they cross boundaries between the social/humanistic and natural sciences. However, there has been less attention, from within science and technology studies, to what it is actually like to participate in such a research-space. This article contributes to that literature through an empirical reflection on the progress of one collaborative and transdisciplinary project: a novel experiment in neuroscientific lie detection, entangling science and technology studies, literary studies, sociology, anthropology, clinical psychology and cognitive neuroscience. Its central argument is twofold: (1) that, in addition to ideal-type tropes of transdisciplinary conciliation or integration, such projects may also be organized around some more subterranean logics of ambivalence, reserve and critique; (2) that an account of the mundane ressentiment of collaboration allows for a more careful attention to the awkward forms of ‘experimental politics’ that may flow through, and indeed propel, collaborative work more broadly. Building on these claims, the article concludes with a suggestion that such subterranean logics may be indissociable from some forms of collaboration, and it proposes an ethic of ‘equivocal speech’ as a way to live with and through these kinds of transdisciplinary experiences.

    May 14, 2014   doi: 10.1177/0306312714531473   open full text
  • Homogeneity and heterogeneity as situational properties: Producing - and moving beyond? - race in post-genomic science.
    Shim, J. K., Darling, K. W., Lappe, M. D., Thomson, L. K., Lee, S. S.-J., Hiatt, R. A., Ackerman, S. L.
    Social Studies of Science: An International Review of Research in the Social Dimensions of Science and Technology. May 14, 2014

    In this article, we explore current thinking and practices around the logics of difference in gene–environment interaction research in the post-genomic era. We find that scientists conducting gene–environment interaction research continue to invoke well-worn notions of racial difference and diversity, but use them strategically to try to examine other kinds of etiologically significant differences among populations. Scientists do this by seeing populations not as inherently homogeneous or heterogeneous, but rather by actively working to produce homogeneity along some dimensions and heterogeneity along others in their study populations. Thus we argue that homogeneity and heterogeneity are situational properties – properties that scientists seek to achieve in their study populations, the available data, and other aspects of the research situation they are confronting, and then leverage to advance post-genomic science. Pointing to the situatedness of homogeneity and heterogeneity in gene–environment interaction research underscores the work that these properties do and the contingencies that shape decisions about research procedures. Through a focus on the situational production of homogeneity and heterogeneity more broadly, we find that gene–environment interaction research attempts to shift the logic of difference from solely racial terms as explanatory ends unto themselves, to racial and other dimensions of difference that may be important clues to the causes of complex diseases.

    May 14, 2014   doi: 10.1177/0306312714531522   open full text
  • Eyeballing expertise.
    Coopmans, C., Button, G.
    Social Studies of Science: An International Review of Research in the Social Dimensions of Science and Technology. May 12, 2014

    ‘Tacit’ and ‘explicit’ knowledge, and their relation to expertise, have a long-standing importance within social studies of science and technology. At the centre of the development of thinking about these topics has been the work of Harry Collins and Robert Evans. In this article, we bring to bear observations of the work of people involved in grading eye disease, and their seeming display of expertise, tacit and explicit knowledge, on three thrusts identified in the work of Collins, and Collins and Evans. These thrusts are the following: (1) a concern with the appearance of tacit knowledge in the activities of experts, (2) a commitment to studying expertise as ‘real’ and substantive rather than attributed, and (3) a commitment to promoting the recognition and fostering the management of expertise by providing analytical distinctions regarding expertise and its reliance on tacit knowledge. By considering what is involved in the work of grading eyes, we relocate the interest in tacit and explicit knowledge, and their bearing on expertise, in how expert knowledge is displayed and made recognizable in and through courses of action and interaction.

    May 12, 2014   doi: 10.1177/0306312714531472   open full text
  • Physician-industry collaboration: Conflicts of interest and the imputation of motive.
    Wadmann, S.
    Social Studies of Science: An International Review of Research in the Social Dimensions of Science and Technology. April 16, 2014

    Policies about physicians’ involvement with pharmaceutical companies spawn contradictory ideas. One set of policies aims to stimulate collaboration between private companies and publicly employed researchers to spur innovation and economic growth, another addresses what is seen as the problem of physicians’ conflicts of interest stemming from industry collaboration. This article explores how these contradictory policies interact with everyday practice in clinical hypertension research in Denmark. I argue that ‘corporate’ and ‘academic’ research is entangled as physicians participate in industry trials to pursue their own research. Building on document analysis, observations of contract research, and interviews with clinician researchers and industry executives, I show how the establishment of industry ‘ties’ can serve as a way for physicians to navigate the constraints of research infrastructures and live up to intergenerational norms that knit the medical collective together. I discuss how this entanglement shapes medical research in ways that may run counter to the aims of medical innovation policies and that conflicts of interest policies do little to address. I conclude that appreciation of the ways in which economic and moral valuations come together is necessary to understand the conditions for medical research in an intertwined public–private research environment.

    April 16, 2014   doi: 10.1177/0306312714525678   open full text
  • Epidemiology and 'developing countries': Writing pesticides, poverty and political engagement in Latin America.
    Brisbois, B. W.
    Social Studies of Science: An International Review of Research in the Social Dimensions of Science and Technology. April 09, 2014

    The growth of the field of global health has prompted renewed interest in discursive aspects of North–South biomedical encounters, but analysis of the role of disciplinary identities and writing conventions remains scarce. In this article, I examine ways of framing pesticide problems in 88 peer-reviewed epidemiology papers produced by Northerners and their collaborators studying pesticide-related health impacts in Latin America. I identify prominent geographic frames in which truncated and selective histories of Latin America are used to justify research projects in specific research sites, which nevertheless function rhetorically as generic ‘developing country’ settings. These frames legitimize health sector interventions as solutions to pesticide-related health problems, largely avoiding more politically charged possibilities. In contrast, some epidemiologists appear to be actively pushing the bounds of epidemiology’s traditional journal article genre by engaging with considerations of political power, especially that of the international pesticide industry. I therefore employ a finer-grained analysis to a subsample of 20 papers to explore how the writing conventions of epidemiology interact with portrayals of poverty and pesticides in Latin America. Through analysis of a minor scientific controversy, authorial presence in epidemiology articles, and variance of framing strategies across genres, I show how the tension between ‘objectivity’ and ‘advocacy’ observed in Northern epidemiology and public health is expressed in North–South interaction. I end by discussing implications for postcolonial and socially engaged approaches to science and technology studies, as well as their relevance to the actual practice of global health research. In particular, the complicated interaction of the conflicted traditions of Northern epidemiology with Latin American settings on paper hints at a far more complex interaction in the form of public health programming involving researchers and research participants who differ by nationality, ethnicity, gender, profession, and class.

    April 09, 2014   doi: 10.1177/0306312714523514   open full text
  • Multivariate statistics and the enactment of biological complexity in metabolic science.
    Levin, N.
    Social Studies of Science: An International Review of Research in the Social Dimensions of Science and Technology. March 17, 2014

    This ethnographic study, based on fieldwork at the Computational and Systems Medicine laboratory at Imperial College London, shows how researchers in the field of metabolomics – the post-genomic study of the molecules and processes that make up metabolism – enact and coproduce complex views of biology with multivariate statistics. From this data-driven science, metabolism emerges as a multiple, informational and statistical object, which is both produced by and also necessitates particular forms of data production and analysis. Multivariate statistics emerge as ‘natural’ and ‘correct’ ways of engaging with a metabolism that is made up of many variables. In this sense, multivariate statistics allow researchers to engage with and conceptualize metabolism, and also disease and processes of life, as complex entities. Consequently, this article builds on studies of scientific practice and visualization to examine data as material objects rather than black-boxed representations. Data practices are not merely the technological components of experimentation, but are simultaneously technologies and methods and are intertwined with ways of seeing and enacting the biological world. Ultimately, this article questions the increasing invocation and role of complexity within biology, suggesting that discourses of complexity are often imbued with reductionist and determinist ways of thinking about biology, as scientists engage with complexity in calculated and controlled, but also limited, ways.

    March 17, 2014   doi: 10.1177/0306312714524845   open full text
  • A Taxonomy of Motives to Cite.
    Erikson, M. G., Erlandson, P.
    Social Studies of Science: An International Review of Research in the Social Dimensions of Science and Technology. March 04, 2014

    In this study, we explicate citing behavior in the writing of scientific papers by presenting a taxonomy of motives to cite. The suggested taxonomy consists of four main categories, which are purely descriptive: Argumentation, Social Alignment, Mercantile Alignment, and Data. These categories are divided into a suggested set of subcategories. We argue that the complexities of citing practice show how little can be assumed about actual citing behavior when studying a finished paper. The discussion supports the claim that it might be misleading to treat all citations as equal in quantitative citation analysis.

    March 04, 2014   doi: 10.1177/0306312714522871   open full text
  • Neoliberal pharmaceutical science and the Chicago School of Economics.
    Nik-Khah, E.
    Social Studies of Science: An International Review of Research in the Social Dimensions of Science and Technology. February 26, 2014

    In recent years, science studies scholars have critically examined several methods used by the pharmaceutical industry to exert control over knowledge about drugs. Complementary literatures on ‘medical neoliberalism’ and ‘neoliberal science’ draw attention to the economic ideas justifying such methods of organizing knowledge, and in so doing suggest that neoliberal thinkers may play an important role in developing them. As yet, the nature of this role remains unexplored. Relying on heretofore-unexamined archival evidence, this article establishes a direct link between the Chicago School of Economics and the mobilization of the pharmaceutical industry in the 1970s. It argues that economists affiliated with the Chicago School of Economics sought to influence pharmaceutical policy and science and constructed institutions to do so. These institutions – most notably the Center for the Study of Drug Development – remain highly influential. This article contributes to a historical understanding of how neoliberal ideas came to assume prominence in pharmaceutical policy, the management of science, and scientific practice.

    February 26, 2014   doi: 10.1177/0306312714520864   open full text
  • Designing a market-like entity: Economics in the politics of market formation.
    Breslau, D.
    Social Studies of Science: An International Review of Research in the Social Dimensions of Science and Technology. August 05, 2013

    Recent work on the relationship of economics to economic institutions has argued that economics is constitutive of economic institutions, and of markets in particular. In opposition to economic sociology, which has treated economics as a competing disciplinary frame or an ideology, the ‘performativity’ literature takes economics seriously as a set of market-building practices. This article demonstrates the compatibility of these perspectives by analyzing the role of economics in the politics of market formation. It presents a case study of the formation of a new institution: capacity markets connected to wholesale electricity markets in the United States. The case demonstrates how economic framing shapes the politics of markets by imposing a specific set of terms for the legitimate conduct of the struggle over market rules.

    August 05, 2013   doi: 10.1177/0306312713493962   open full text
  • When the Spread of Disease Becomes a Global Event.
    Abeysinghe, S.
    Social Studies of Science: An International Review of Research in the Social Dimensions of Science and Technology. July 17, 2013

    The classification of novel disease events is central to public health action surrounding them. Drawing upon the sociology of scientific classification, this article examines the role and contestation of the World Health Organization’s Pandemic Alert Phases, as applied to the spread of 2009/10 H1N1 Influenza. The analysis of World Health Organization texts, including policy documents, public statements and epidemiological documents, has been utilized to examine the Organization’s actions and public narratives around the event of H1N1. Analytically, the functional role of such classificatory schemes and the social construction of scientific classifications are examined. It is argued that in understanding the World Health Organization’s 2009/10 application of the Pandemic Alert Phases, the critical limitation of the functions served by the classificatory scheme led to the breakdown of its construction. This case study highlights the importance of classification for the successful production of scientific ‘facts’, the constructed nature of classificatory systems and the potential for contestation that arises when such classifications do not adequately fulfil their functional roles.

    July 17, 2013   doi: 10.1177/0306312713492559   open full text
  • Scandals, Audits and Fictions: Linking Climate Change to Mexican Forests.
    Mathews, A. S.
    Social Studies of Science: An International Review of Research in the Social Dimensions of Science and Technology. June 12, 2013

    Over the past 10 years, Mexican officials and scientists have promoted the project of protecting Mexican forests in order to mitigate climate change, forests acting to absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. This article compares existing policies around mass reforestation and markets for environmental services, and their relationships to a policy in construction – Reduced Emissions through Degradation and Deforestation. Mass reforestation policies collapsed in the face of politicized audits and stories about corruption; markets for environmental services continued with little criticism, stabilized in part by the charisma of Reduced Emissions through Degradation and Deforestation policies. I explain the collapse of mass reforestation policies as being due to failed knowledge performances by officials and scientists; such failures are assessed by more or less skeptical publics who expect specific ways of performing credible public knowledge. Areas of nonknowledge can be tamed as calculable uncertainty, or alternatively transformed into ontological indeterminacy, scandals, and stories of corruption. Areas of nonknowledge are not pathological: they may support, as well as undermine, climate science, the authority of institutions, or the credibility of carbon accounts.

    June 12, 2013   doi: 10.1177/0306312713490330   open full text
  • The Athlete as Model Organism: The Everyday Practice of the Science of Human Performance.
    Johnson, A.
    Social Studies of Science: An International Review of Research in the Social Dimensions of Science and Technology. June 11, 2013

    Behind every champion athlete are scores of physiologists studying his or her performance. This is no new phenomenon. Since the late 19th century, physiologists have been bringing ‘well-trained’ athletes into their labs to produce knowledge about how human bodies work, to determine the causes of human fatigue, and to probe human limits. In this article, I argue that the athlete, like the fruit fly or the mouse cress plant, can be considered a model organism. Ethnographic data are presented from 7 months of participant-observation and semistructured interviews in three human performance laboratories located in South Africa, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Ethnographic data suggest that the athlete functions as a model organism in physiology for two reasons. First, athletes ‘accommodate’ the particular experimental instruments and practical demands of fatigue research. Second, a distinct ‘biosociality’ drives the choice of athlete as model organism.

    June 11, 2013   doi: 10.1177/0306312713490448   open full text
  • A history of deep brain stimulation: technological innovation & the role clinical assessment tools.
    Gardner, J.
    Social Studies of Science: An International Review of Research in the Social Dimensions of Science and Technology. May 30, 2013

    Deep brain stimulation involves using a pacemaker-like device to deliver constant electrical stimulation to problematic areas within the brain. It has been used to treat over 40,000 people with Parkinson’s disease and essential tremor worldwide and is currently undergoing clinical trials as a treatment for depression and obsessive–compulsive disorder. This article will provide an historical account of deep brain stimulation in order to illustrate the plurality of interests involved in the development and stabilization of deep brain stimulation technology. Using Latour’s notion of immutable mobiles, this article will illustrate the importance of clinical assessment tools in shaping technological development in the era of medical device regulation. Given that such tools can serve commercial and professional interests, this article suggests that it is necessary to scrutinise their application in research contexts to ensure that they capture clinical changes that are meaningful for patients and their families. This is particularly important in relation to potentially ethically problematic therapies such as deep brain stimulation for psychiatric disorders.

    May 30, 2013   doi: 10.1177/0306312713483678   open full text
  • The Making and Unmaking of an Unknown Soldier.
    Wagner, S.
    Social Studies of Science: An International Review of Research in the Social Dimensions of Science and Technology. May 30, 2013

    For 18 years, from 1984 to 1998, the Vietnam crypt of the Tomb of the Unknowns in Arlington National Cemetery housed the remains of a soldier whose anonymity helped shoulder a nation’s grief and fuel its memory. They were those of First Lieutenant Michael J. Blassie, an Air Force pilot shot down over hostile territory in southern Vietnam in 1972. On 14 May 1998, Blassie’s then-unrecognized remains became the only set at the memorial to be disinterred and identified – an act that signaled an important shift in forensic practice and the state’s means of commemorating its missing and unknown members of the military. Tracing the story of the Vietnam Unknown’s (de)identification, this article examines the gradual though foundational reframing of the connection between national memory and identity expressed through care for those who ‘made the ultimate sacrifice’. Whereas memorials of the past, such as the Tomb of the Unknowns, emphasized collective or anonymous groupings of war dead in articulating national identity, the changing technology of identification, particularly brought about by advances in DNA testing, has enabled individuated memorializing. Naming each dead soldier, returning each set of remains to surviving families, no matter how partial or delayed, personalizes the ideals of sacrifice and honor embodied in the fallen soldier and invites localized, communal remembrance. The shifts in technology and memory that have rewritten the story of the Vietnam Unknown not only altered modes of national commemoration, but also lay bare the connections between how war itself is waged, death justified, and a nation defined through its care for war dead.

    May 30, 2013   doi: 10.1177/0306312713484646   open full text
  • Straight from the Source: Accounting for Scientific Success.
    Leahey, E., Cain, C.
    Social Studies of Science: An International Review of Research in the Social Dimensions of Science and Technology. May 30, 2013

    How do highly cited scientists account for their success? A number of approaches have been used to explain scientific success, but none incorporates scientists’ own understandings, which are critical to a complete, process-oriented explanation. We remedy this oversight by incorporating scientists’ own descriptions of the value of their work, as reflected in essays written by authors of highly cited articles (‘Citation Classics’). As cultural objects, these essays reveal not only factors perceived to be associated with success but also reflect narrative conventions, and thereby elucidate the culture surrounding success. We enlist Charles Ragin’s Qualitative Comparative Analysis to analyze how factors mentioned in these accounts work in conjunction. Our results show that three ingredients – relationships, usefulness to others, and overcoming challenges – are found in a large majority of scientific success stories.

    May 30, 2013   doi: 10.1177/0306312713484820   open full text
  • Tracing Biomedical Dispositives: Play, Rigour and Cooperation in Medical Oncology.
    Murray, C. M.
    Social Studies of Science: An International Review of Research in the Social Dimensions of Science and Technology. May 30, 2013
    There is no abstract available for this paper.
    May 30, 2013   doi: 10.1177/0306312713487024   open full text
  • Broken Tempos: Of Means and Memory in a Senegalese University Laboratory.
    Tousignant, N.
    Social Studies of Science: An International Review of Research in the Social Dimensions of Science and Technology. May 15, 2013

    Focusing on the Laboratory of Toxicology and Analytical Chemistry of the Faculty of Pharmacy at Cheikh Anta Diop University in Senegal, this article foregrounds temporality as a key dimension of the postcolonial history of African science. This laboratory, like many others across Africa, is experienced by its current and former members as a space of shortage. I explore how memories of ‘means’ and past scientific activity in Dakar and abroad give meaning to subsequent experiences of the lab as a place filled with inactive ‘antiques’ and ‘wreckage’. I suggest that the waning of means not only displaces scientific activity ‘elsewhere’ but also fragments its tempos, altering its rhythms along with its social, moral and affective qualities. The interpenetration of past and future generates nostalgia, segmented narratives and trajectories, quests for immediacy and continuity, as well as new engagements with routines of scientific regulation and management. Paying attention to the intersection of materiality and temporality – by taking seriously African scientists’ longing for science that moves forward, keeps pace, begins now and fills up time – thus opens up new ways of understanding what science means and what it means to do science in times of promise and decline, emergence and interruption, hope and uncertainty in postcolonial Africa.

    May 15, 2013   doi: 10.1177/0306312713482187   open full text
  • Being evidence-based in the absence of Evidence: the management of non-Evidence in guideline development.
    Knaapen, L.
    Social Studies of Science: An International Review of Research in the Social Dimensions of Science and Technology. May 15, 2013

    Since the emergence of the Evidence-Based Medicine (EBM) movement, the nature and role of evidence in medicine has been much debated. The formal classification of evidence that is unique to Evidence-Based Medicine, referred to as the Evidence hierarchy, has been fiercely criticized. Yet studies that examine how Evidence is classified in EBM practice are rare. This article presents an observational study of the nature of Evidence and Evidence-Based Medicine as understood and performed in practice. It does this by examining how an absence of Evidence is defined and managed in Evidence-Based Guideline development. The EBM label does not denote the quantity or quality of evidence found, but the specific management of the absence of evidence, requiring a transparently reported process of evidence searching, selection and presentation. I propose the term ‘Evidence Searched Guidelines’ to better capture this specific way of ‘being’ EBM. Moreover, what counts as Evidence depends not just on the Evidence hierarchy, but requires agreement between the members of each guideline development group who mobilize a range of ‘other’ knowledges, such as biological principles and knowledge of the clinic. In addition, I distinguish four non-Evidentiary justifications that are relied upon in the formulation of recommendations (literature, qualified opinions, ethical principles, and practice standards). These are not always secondary to Evidence but may be positioned outside the hierarchy, allowing them to trump Evidence. The legitimacy of Evidence-Based Medicine relies neither on experts nor numbers, but on distinct procedures for handling (non-)Evidence, reflecting its ‘regulatory objectivity’. Finally, the notion of transparency is central for understanding how Evidence-Based Medicine regulates, and is regulated within, contemporary biomedicine.

    May 15, 2013   doi: 10.1177/0306312713483679   open full text
  • The persistence of 'normal' catchment management despite the participatory turn: Exploring the power effects of competing frames of reference.
    Cook, B. R., Kesby, M., Fazey, I., Spray, C.
    Social Studies of Science: An International Review of Research in the Social Dimensions of Science and Technology. April 09, 2013

    Presented as a panacea for the problems of environmental management, ‘participation’ conceals competing frames of meaning. ‘Ladders of participation’ explain insufficiently why public engagement is often limited to consultation, even within so-called higher level partnerships. To explain how participation is shaped to produce more or less symmetric exchanges in processes of deliberation, this article distinguishes between (1) discourses/practices, (2) frames and (3) power effects. This article’s empirical focus is the experience of participatory catchment organisations and their central but under-researched role in integrated catchment management. In addition to an analysis of policy statements and other relevant documents, this article draws on qualitative interview and participant-observation data gathered in an international participatory knowledge exchange that we facilitated among four participatory catchment organisations (and various other agencies). Results suggest that while statements about legislation promise symmetric engagements, the mechanics of legislation frame participation as asymmetric consultation. In their own arenas, participatory catchment organisations deploy participation within a framework of grassroots democracy, but when they engage in partnership with government, participation is reshaped by at least four competing frames: (1) representative democracy, which admits, yet captures, the public’s voice; (2) professionalisation, which can exclude framings that facilitate more symmetric engagement; (3) statutory requirements, which hybridise participatory catchment organisations to deliver government agendas and (4) evidence-based decision-making, which tends to maintain knowledge hierarchies. Nevertheless, participatory catchment organisations proved capable of reflecting on their capture. We thus conclude that the co-production of science and society, and the power effects of framing, must become explicit topics of discussion in processes of environmental policy deliberation for participation to result in more symmetric forms of public engagement.

    April 09, 2013   doi: 10.1177/0306312713478670   open full text
  • The Bayesian Approach to Forensic Evidence - Evaluating, Communicating, and Distributing Responsibility.
    Kruse, C.
    Social Studies of Science: An International Review of Research in the Social Dimensions of Science and Technology. March 15, 2013

    This article draws attention to communication across professions as an important aspect of forensic evidence. Based on ethnographic fieldwork in the Swedish legal system, it shows how forensic scientists use a particular quantitative approach to evaluating forensic laboratory results, the Bayesian approach, as a means of quantifying uncertainty and communicating it accurately to judges, prosecutors, and defense lawyers, as well as a means of distributing responsibility between the laboratory and the court. This article argues that using the Bayesian approach also brings about a particular type of intersubjectivity; in order to make different types of forensic evidence commensurable and combinable, quantifications must be consistent across forensic specializations, which brings about a transparency based on shared understandings and practices. Forensic scientists strive to keep the black box of forensic evidence – at least partly – open in order to achieve this transparency.

    March 15, 2013   doi: 10.1177/0306312712472572   open full text