Science studies

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In academic research, science studies (also known as sociology of science and science and technology studies and sometimes science, technology, and society, or simply STS) is an umbrella term for a number of approaches devoted to studying science that emerged from developments in the history and philosophy of science (HPS) and the sociology of scientific knowledge (SSK) in the 1960s. Its practitioners often come from a wide variety of disciplines, usually history of science and technology, sociology of science, philosophy of science, anthropology, but also sometimes literature, art history, cultural studies, gender studies, history of consciousness, medicine, law and computer science (see Scientific Community Metaphor). While the scope of science studies is generally quite large, an overarching goal that applies to many science studies research projects is to understand how scientific knowledge is created, maintained, and used.

Science studies deals with knowledge claims, which are ordinarily interpreted as claims to truth. Much research in science studies, however, takes a broad view of notion of "truth", preferring to note simply that science "works" to the extent that relevant communities believe in its claims. This has made the issue of relativism a prominent feature of debates within and about science studies. This is part of the legacy of the seminal contributions made by Michel Foucault and Thomas Kuhn to the field (Foucault's Archaeology of Knowledge and Kuhn's Structure of Scientific Revolutions provide useful statements of their positions at the time). Both of these approaches stress that "truth" is a historical construction which cannot be appealed to in order to explain the "success" of science, but is itself that which is explained by a careful study of how knowledge is actually produced.

There is a general consensus in the field that the development of scientific knowledge, the development of technology, and the development of social institutions quite generally are related phenomena. The word "studies" is apt (as opposed to, for example, "theory") in that the majority of science studies practitioners carry out detailed investigations of particular phenomena (technological milieus, laboratory culture, science policy, the role of the university, etc.) without subscribing to any single comprehensive view of the topic.

See also

See also

Related people



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.
  • Dumit, Joseph, "Picturing Personhood: Brain Scans and Biomedical Identity" (Princeton University Press, 2003).

Media, Culture, Society and Technology

External links

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