Science and technology studies
Overview
 
Science, technology and society (STS) is the study of how social, political, and cultural value
Value (personal and cultural)
A personal or cultural value is an absolute or relative ethical value, the assumption of which can be the basis for ethical action. A value system is a set of consistent values and measures. A principle value is a foundation upon which other values and measures of integrity are based...

s affect scientific research and technological innovation
Innovation
Innovation is the creation of better or more effective products, processes, technologies, or ideas that are accepted by markets, governments, and society...

, and how these, in turn, affect society
Society
A society, or a human society, is a group of people related to each other through persistent relations, or a large social grouping sharing the same geographical or virtual territory, subject to the same political authority and dominant cultural expectations...

, politics
Politics
Politics is a process by which groups of people make collective decisions. The term is generally applied to the art or science of running governmental or state affairs, including behavior within civil governments, but also applies to institutions, fields, and special interest groups such as the...

 and culture
Culture
Culture is a term that has many different inter-related meanings. For example, in 1952, Alfred Kroeber and Clyde Kluckhohn compiled a list of 164 definitions of "culture" in Culture: A Critical Review of Concepts and Definitions...

. STS scholars are interested in a variety of problems including the relationships between scientific and technological innovations and society, and the directions and risks of science and technology. More than two dozen universities worldwide offer bachelor's degrees in STS.
Encyclopedia
Science, technology and society (STS) is the study of how social, political, and cultural value
Value (personal and cultural)
A personal or cultural value is an absolute or relative ethical value, the assumption of which can be the basis for ethical action. A value system is a set of consistent values and measures. A principle value is a foundation upon which other values and measures of integrity are based...

s affect scientific research and technological innovation
Innovation
Innovation is the creation of better or more effective products, processes, technologies, or ideas that are accepted by markets, governments, and society...

, and how these, in turn, affect society
Society
A society, or a human society, is a group of people related to each other through persistent relations, or a large social grouping sharing the same geographical or virtual territory, subject to the same political authority and dominant cultural expectations...

, politics
Politics
Politics is a process by which groups of people make collective decisions. The term is generally applied to the art or science of running governmental or state affairs, including behavior within civil governments, but also applies to institutions, fields, and special interest groups such as the...

 and culture
Culture
Culture is a term that has many different inter-related meanings. For example, in 1952, Alfred Kroeber and Clyde Kluckhohn compiled a list of 164 definitions of "culture" in Culture: A Critical Review of Concepts and Definitions...

. STS scholars are interested in a variety of problems including the relationships between scientific and technological innovations and society, and the directions and risks of science and technology. More than two dozen universities worldwide offer bachelor's degrees in STS. About half of these also offer Doctoral or Masters degrees.

History

STS is a new and expanding subject; for example, in 2005, four major United States universities announced new STS programs. Like most interdisciplinary programs, it emerged from the confluence of a variety of disciplines and disciplinary subfields, all of which had developed an interest—typically, during the 1960s or 1970s—in viewing science and technology as socially embedded enterprises.

Early developments

The key disciplinary components of STS took shape independently, beginning in the 1960s, and developed in isolation from each other well into the 1980s, although Ludwig Fleck's monograph (1935) Genesis and Development of a Scientific Fact anticipated many of STS's key themes:
  • Science studies
    Science studies
    Science studies is an interdisciplinary research area that seeks to situate scientific expertise in a broad social, historical, and philosophical context. It is concerned with the history of academic disciplines, the interrelationships between science and society, and the alleged covert purposes...

    , a branch of the sociology of scientific knowledge
    Sociology of scientific knowledge
    The sociology of scientific knowledge ' is the study of science as a social activity, especially dealing "with the social conditions and effects of science, and with the social structures and processes of scientific activity."...

     that places scientific controversies in their social context.
  • History of technology
    History of technology
    The history of technology is the history of the invention of tools and techniques, and is similar in many ways to the history of humanity. Background knowledge has enabled people to create new things, and conversely, many scientific endeavors have become possible through technologies which assist...

    , that examines technology in its social and historical context. Starting in the 1960s, some historians questioned technological determinism
    Technological determinism
    Technological determinism is a reductionist theory that presumes that a society's technology drives the development of its social structure and cultural values. The term is believed to have been coined by Thorstein Veblen , an American sociologist...

    , a doctrine that can induce public passivity to technologic and scientific 'natural' development. At the same time, some historians began to develop similarly contextual approaches to the history of medicine
    History of medicine
    All human societies have medical beliefs that provide explanations for birth, death, and disease. Throughout history, illness has been attributed to witchcraft, demons, astral influence, or the will of the gods...

    .
  • History and philosophy of science
    History and philosophy of science
    The history and philosophy of science is an academic discipline that encompasses the philosophy of science and the history of science. Although many scholars in the field are trained primarily as either historians or as philosophers, there are degree-granting departments of HPS at several...

     (1960s). After the publication of Thomas Kuhn
    Thomas Kuhn
    Thomas Samuel Kuhn was an American historian and philosopher of science whose controversial 1962 book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions was deeply influential in both academic and popular circles, introducing the term "paradigm shift," which has since become an English-language staple.Kuhn...

    's well-known The Structure of Scientific Revolutions
    The Structure of Scientific Revolutions
    The Structure of Scientific Revolutions , by Thomas Kuhn, is an analysis of the history of science. Its publication was a landmark event in the history, philosophy, and sociology of scientific knowledge and it triggered an ongoing worldwide assessment and reaction in — and beyond — those scholarly...

    (1962), which attributed changes in scientific theories to changes in underlying intellectual paradigm
    Paradigm
    The word paradigm has been used in science to describe distinct concepts. It comes from Greek "παράδειγμα" , "pattern, example, sample" from the verb "παραδείκνυμι" , "exhibit, represent, expose" and that from "παρά" , "beside, beyond" + "δείκνυμι" , "to show, to point out".The original Greek...

    s, programs were founded at the University of California, Berkeley and elsewhere that brought historians of science and philosophers together in unified programs.
  • Science, technology, and society
    Technology and society
    Technology and society or technology and culture refers to cyclical co-dependence, co-influence, co-production of technology and society upon the other . This synergistic relationship occurred from the dawn of humankind, with the invention of simple tools and continues into modern technologies such...

      In the mid- to late-1960s, student and faculty social movements in the U.S., UK, and European universities helped to launch a range of new interdisciplinary fields (such as women's studies
    Women's studies
    Women's studies, also known as feminist studies, is an interdisciplinary academic field which explores politics, society and history from an intersectional, multicultural women's perspective...

    ) that were seen to address relevant topics that the traditional curriculum ignored. One such development was the rise of "science, technology, and society" programs, which are also—confusingly—known by the STS acronym. Drawn from a variety of disciplines, including anthropology, history, political science, and sociology, scholars in these programs created undergraduate curricula devoted to exploring the issues raised by science and technology. Unlike scholars in science studies, history of technology, or the history and philosophy of science, they were and are more likely to see themselves as activists working for change rather than dispassionate, "ivory tower" researchers. As an example of the activist impulse, feminist scholars in this and other emerging STS areas addressed themselves to the exclusion of women from science and engineering.
  • Science, engineering, and public policy studies emerged in the 1970s from the same concerns that motivated the founders of the science, technology, and society movement: A sense that science and technology were developing in ways that were increasingly at odds with the public's best interests. The science, technology, and society movement tried to humanize those who would make tomorrow's science and technology, but this discipline took a different approach: It would train students with the professional skills needed to become players in science and technology policy. Some programs came to emphasize quantitative methodologies, and most of these were eventually absorbed into systems engineering
    Systems engineering
    Systems engineering is an interdisciplinary field of engineering that focuses on how complex engineering projects should be designed and managed over the life cycle of the project. Issues such as logistics, the coordination of different teams, and automatic control of machinery become more...

    . Others emphasized sociological and qualitative approaches, and found that their closest kin could be found among scholars in science, technology, and society departments.


During the 1970s and 1980s, leading universities in the US, UK, and Europe began drawing these various components together in new, interdisciplinary programs. For example, in the 1970s, Cornell University developed a new program that united science studies and policy-oriented scholars with historians and philosophers of science and technology. Each of these programs developed unique identities due to variation in the components that were drawn together, as well as their location within the various universities. For example, the University of Virginia's STS program united scholars drawn from a variety of fields (with particular strength in the history of technology); however, the program's teaching responsibilities—it is located within an engineering school and teaches ethics to undergraduate engineering students—means that all of its faculty share a strong interest in engineering ethics.

The "turn to technology"

A decisive moment in the development of STS was the mid-1980s addition of technology studies to the range of interests reflected in science studies programs. During that decade, two works appeared en seriatim that signaled what Steve Woolgar
Steve Woolgar
Stephen Woolgar is a British sociologist. He has worked closely with Bruno Latour, with whom he co-authored Laboratory Life: the Social Construction of Scientific Facts ....

 was to call the "turn to technology": Social Shaping of Technology (MacKenzie and Wajcman, 1985) and The Social Construction of Technological Systems (Bijker, Hughes and Pinch, 1987). MacKenzie and Wajcman
Judy Wajcman
Judy Wajcman is a Professor of Sociology at the London School of Economics and Political Science.She was formerly a Professor of Sociology in the Research School of Social Sciences, Australian National University. She has been a Visiting Professor at the Lehman Brothers Centre for Women in Business...

 primed the pump by publishing a collection of articles attesting to the influence of society on technological design. In a seminal article, Trevor Pinch
Trevor Pinch
Trevor J. Pinch is a sociologist and former chair of the Science and Technology Studies department at Cornell University.Pinch has a degree in Physics from the Imperial College London and a PhD in Sociology from the University of Bath...

 and Wiebe Bijker
Wiebe Bijker
Wiebe E. Bijker is a Dutch professor, chair of the Department of Social Science and Technology at Maastricht University in the Netherlands....

 attached all the legitimacy of the Sociology of Scientific Knowledge to this development by showing how the sociology of technology could proceed along precisely the theoretical and methodological lines established by the sociology of scientific knowledge. This was the intellectual foundation of the field they called the social construction of technology
Social construction of technology
Social construction of technology is a theory within the field of Science and Technology Studies. Advocates of SCOT -- that is, social constructivists -- argue that technology does not determine human action, but that rather, human action shapes technology...

.

The "turn to technology" helped to cement an already growing awareness of underlying unity among the various emerging STS programs. More recently, there has been an associated turn to materiality, whereby the socio-technical and material co-produce each other. This is especially evident in work in STS analyses of biomedicine (such as Carl May, Nelly Oudshoorn, and Andrew Webster).

Professional associations

The subject has several professional associations.

Founded in 1975, the Society for Social Studies of Science
Society for Social Studies of Science
The Society for Social Studies of Science is a non-profit scholarly association devoted to the studies of science and technology. It was founded in 1975 and has, in 2008, an international membership of over 1200....

, initially provided scholarly communication facilities—including a journal (Science, Technology, and Human Values) and annual meetings—that were mainly attended by science studies scholars, but the society has since grown into the most important professional association of science and technology studies scholars worldwide. The Society for Social Studies of Science members also include government and industry officials concerned with research and development as well as science and technology policy; scientists and engineers who wish to better understand the social embeddedness of their professional practice; and citizens concerned about the impact of science and technology in their lives. Proposals have been made to add the word "technology" to the association's name, thereby reflecting its stature as the leading STS professional society, but there seems to be widespread sentiment that the name is long enough as it is.

In Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

, the European Association for the Study of Science and Technology (EASST) was founded in 1981 to stimulate communication, exchange and collaboration in the field of studies of science and technology. Similarly, the European Inter-University Association on Society, Science and Technology (ESST
ESST
The European Inter-University Association on Society, Science and Technology is an association of universities who jointly teach and research in the field of social, scientific and technological developments...

) researches and studies science and technology in society, in both historical and contemporary perspectives

Founded in 1958, the Society for the History of Technology
Society for the History of Technology
The Society for the History of Technology, or SHOT, is the primary professional society for historians of technology. Founded in 1958, its flagship publication is the journal Technology and Culture...

 initially attracted members from the history profession who had interests in the contextual history of technology. After the "turn to technology" in the mid-1980s, the society's well-regarded journal (Technology and Culture) and its annual meetings began to attract considerable interest from non-historians with technology studies interests.

Less identified with STS, but also of importance to many STS scholars in the US, are the History of Science Society
History of Science Society
The History of Science Society is the primary professional society for the academic study of the history of science.It was founded in 1924 by George Sarton and Lawrence Joseph Henderson, primarily to support the publication of Isis, a journal of the history of science Sarton had started in 1912....

, the Philosophy of Science Association
Philosophy of Science Association
The Philosophy of Science Association is an academic organization which promotes further studies and free discussion from diverse standpoints in the field of philosophy of science....

, and the American Association for the History of Medicine. In addition, there are significant STS-oriented special interest groups within major disciplinary associations, including the American Anthropological Association
American Anthropological Association
The American Anthropological Association is a professional organization of scholars and practitioners in the field of anthropology. With 11,000 members, the Arlington, Virginia based association includes archaeologists, cultural anthropologists, biological anthropologists, linguistic...

, the American Political Science Association
American Political Science Association
The American Political Science Association is a professional association of political science students and scholars in the United States. Founded in 1903, it publishes three academic journals...

, and the American Sociological Association
American Sociological Association
The American Sociological Association , founded in 1905 as the American Sociological Society , is a non-profit organization dedicated to advancing the discipline and profession of sociology by serving sociologists in their work and promoting their contributions to serve society.The ASA holds its...

.

Journals

Important journals in STS are Social Studies of Science, Science, Technology and Human Values, Research Policy, Science Technology and Society, Science as Culture, Technology and Culture, and Science and Public Policy.

See also

  • Sociology of scientific knowledge
    Sociology of scientific knowledge
    The sociology of scientific knowledge ' is the study of science as a social activity, especially dealing "with the social conditions and effects of science, and with the social structures and processes of scientific activity."...

  • Actor–network theory
  • Normalization process theory
    Normalization Process Theory
    Normalization process theory is a sociological theory of the implementation, embedding, and integration of new technologies and organizational innovations developed by Carl R. May, Tracey Finch, and others...

  • Phronetic social science
    Phronetic social science
    Phronetic social science is an approach to the study of social – including political and economic – phenomena based on a contemporary interpretation of the Aristotelian concept phronesis, variously translated as practical judgment, common sense, or prudence. Phronesis is the intellectual virtue...

  • Mode 2
    Mode 2
    Mode 2 is a concept that is often used to refer to a novel way of scientific knowledge production, , put forth in 1994 by Michael Gibbons, Camille Limoges, Helga Nowotny, Simon Schwartzman, Peter Scott and Martin Trow in their book The new production of knowledge: the dynamics of science and...

  • Innovation system
    Innovation system
    The concept of the innovation system stresses that the flow of technology and information among people, enterprises and institutions is key to an innovative process...

  • Technological innovation system
    Technological innovation system
    The Technological Innovation System is a concept developed within the scientific field of innovation studies which serves to explain the nature and rate of technological change...

  • Science of team science
    Science of Team Science
    The science of team science field encompasses both conceptual and methodological strategies aimed at understanding and enhancing the processes and outcomes of collaborative, team-based research. It is useful to distinguish between team science initiatives and the science of team science field...

  • Science and technology in Israel
    Science and technology in Israel
    Science and technology in Israel is one of the country's most developed sectors. The percentage of Israelis engaged in scientific and technological inquiry, and the amount spent on research and development in relation to gross domestic product , is amongst the highest in the world...

  • Cyborg anthropology
    Cyborg anthropology
    Cyborg anthropology is the discipline that studies the interaction between humanity and technology from an anthropological perspective. The discipline is relatively new compared to the broader field of anthropology, but offers novel insights on new technological advances and their effect on culture...


Further reading

  • Bauchspies, Wenda, Jennifer Croissant, and Sal Restivo (2005). Science, Technology, and Society: A Sociological Approach (Wiley-Blackwell, 2005).
  • Bijker, Wiebe, Hughes, Thomas & Pinch, Trevor (eds.) (1987) The Social Construction of Technological Systems: New Directions in the Sociology and History of Technology Cambridge MA/London: MIT Press
    MIT Press
    The MIT Press is a university press affiliated with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Massachusetts .-History:...

    . (2nd edition, with James H. Collier, Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2004)
  • Jasanoff, S., Markle, G., Petersen, J. and Pinch, T., eds (1994) Handbook of Science and Technology Studies. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
  • MacKenzie, Donald & Wajcman, Judy (eds.) (1999) The Social Shaping of Technology: How the Refrigerator Got Its Hum, Milton Keynes, Open University Press.
  • MacKenzie, D. (1996) Knowing Machines: Essays on Technical Change. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
  • Restivo, Sal (editor-in-chief), Science, Technology, and Society: An Encyclopedia. New York: Oxford, 2005.
  • Restivo, Sal (1992), Mathematics in Society and History. New York: Springer.
  • Rip, Arie, Thomas J. Misa and Johan Schot (eds.) (1995) Managing Technology in Society: The approach of Constructive Technology Assessment London/NY: Pinter.
  • Rosenberg, Nathan (1994) Exploring the Black Box: Technology, Economics and History, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Werskey, Gary. The Marxist Critique of Capitalist Science: A History in Three Movements?. The Human Nature Review. 2011-05-21. URL:http://human-nature.com/science-as-culture/werskey.html. Accessed: 2011-05-21. (Archived by WebCite® at http://www.webcitation.org/5yr1hbYcl)
  • Williams, R. & Edge, D. (1996). The Social Shaping of Technology. Research Policy, vol. 25, pp. 856–899.

External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
x
OK