The Online Encyclopedia and Dictionary






Science studies

In academics, science studies (sometimes seen as science and technology studies) is an umbrella term for a number of approaches devoted to studying science, and as a discipline its participants often come from a wide variety of disciplines, usually history of science, sociology of science, philosophy of science, the social enterprise of science (the sociology of scientific knowledge (SSK) is a specific school of thought in that subfield), anthropology, literature, art history, as well as programs in cultural studies, gender studies, history of consciousness , medicine, and law, among others. While the scope of science studies is generally quite large and hard to define, an overarching goal that applies to many science studies research projects is to understand how scientific knowledge is created and maintained.

Technology studies is a field that has mushroomed in recent decades. In addition to the disciplines mentioned above, it attracts attention from economists (e.g. on costs of R&D), geographers (e.g. on division of labour over space in innovation and use of technologies), and ethicists (bioethics) and legal studies (e.g. information technology law, internet regulation). There has emerged a very active field of "innovation studies" in which many of these disciplines cooperate. This field covers not only invention and innovation, but also the diffusion, implementation, consumption, reinvention, and representation of technologies. (Innovation studies also cover non-technological innovations, though there has been much less effort here.)

Technology studies deal with human products whose utility is a matter of whether or not they "work" in effecting transformations of the material world. Science studies deal with knowledge claims, but these are often interpreted as claims to truth; many students of science studies have preferred to skate around the question of veracity (and some treat all scientific approaches as being in effect of equal truth value), and say that science "works" to the extent that relevant communities believe in its claims. Michel Foucault addressed the issue of truth by positing that each society has a regime of truth that operates to determine which knowledge claims are considered true.

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Technology and Culture, Johns Hopkins University Press

General Science Studies

  • Biagioli, Mario, ed. The Science Studies Reader (New York: Routledge, 1999).
  • Snow, C.P. The Two Cultures and the Scientific Revolution (Cambridge: New York, 1993).
  • Latour, Bruno, "The Last Critique," Harper's Magazine (April 2004): 15-20.
  • Latour, Bruno. "Science in Action". Cambridge. 1987.
  • Latour, Bruno, "Do You Believe in Reality: News from the Trenches of the Science Wars," in Pandora's Hope (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1999)
  • Mary Wyer, Donna Cookmeyer, Mary Barbercheck ed. Women, Science and Technology: A Reader in Feminist Science Studies, Routledge 2001

Objectivity and Truth

  • Haraway, Donna J. "Situated Knowledges: The Science Question in Feminism and the Privilege of Partial Perspective," in Simians, Cyborgs, and Women: the Reinvention of Nature (New York: Routledge, 1991), 183-201. (available online)
  • Foucault, Michel, "Truth and Power," in Power/Knowledge (New York: Pantheon Books, 1997), 109-133.
  • Porter, Theodore M. Trust in Numbers: The Pursuit of Objectivity in Science and Public Life (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1995).

Medicine and Biology

  • Fadiman, Anne, The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1997). (website)
  • Martin, Emily, "Toward an Anthropology of Immunology: The Body as Nation State," in Mario Biagioli, ed., The Science Studies Reader (New York: Routledge, 1999), 358-371.

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Last updated: 05-13-2005 07:56:04