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Social Studies of Science

Marie-Andrée Jacob
Based on fieldwork in the Committee on Publication Ethics, this paper offers an analysis of the forms of doings that publication ethics in action can take during what is called the 'Forum', a space where allegations of dubious research conduct get aired and debated between editors and publishers. This article examines recurring motifs within the review of publication practices whose ethics are called into. These motifs include: the shaping of publication ethics as an expertise that can be standardized across locations and disciplines, the separation of the research record from relations that produce it, and the divisibility of the scientific paper...
January 17, 2019: Social Studies of Science
Catherine Kenny, Max Liboiron, Sara Ann Wylie
This paper contributes to the growing literature on 'making and doing' in Science and Technology Studies (STS) by describing and theorizing the teaching of making and doing. We describe a collaborative do-it-yourself (DIY) technology project taught simultaneously in Canada and the United States, in sociology and public health, to undergraduates with no prior electronics experience. Students built thermal flashlights - low cost digital tools for making thermal images - and employed them to research their surrounding environments...
January 16, 2019: Social Studies of Science
David Armstrong
Recent technological advances such as microprocessors and random-access memory have had a significant role in gathering, storing and processing digital data, but the basic principles underpinning such data management were established in the century preceding the digital revolution. This paper maps the emergence of those older technologies to show that the logic and imperative for the surveillance potential of more recent digital technologies was laid down in a pre-digital age. The paper focuses on the development of the data point from its use in punch cards in the late 19th century through its manipulation in ideas about correlation to its collection via self-completion questionnaires...
January 12, 2019: Social Studies of Science
Julia Swallow, Alexandra Hillman
This paper contributes to the growing recognition in Science and Technology Studies and medical sociology of the significant role of affect in scientific and clinical work. We show how feelings of fear and anxiety associated with dementia not only shape people's experiences and responses to a diagnosis, but also shape the practices and processes through which assessments and diagnoses are accomplished. What emerges from our research, and provides a distinct contribution to this growing field of study, is the relationship between the uncertainties that pervade the diagnosis of memory problems and the various strategies and practices employed to care for, divert, restrict or manage affective relations...
December 25, 2018: Social Studies of Science
Sophie Merit Müller
Various specialist cultures configure bodies as complex technological devices. We know little about how exactly this is done. I focus on one of these cultures, classical ballet, to praxeologically reconstruct the conceptual, situational and material configuration of bodies as particular instruments. The technologization of the body is closely intertwined with the scientification of the practice - its ladenness with scientific knowledge about the body and an elaborate apparatus for the production of bodies. When anatomical knowledge and didactics intertwine in ballet class, this facilitates an opening of the black box 'body' for technical improvement...
November 16, 2018: Social Studies of Science
Bindu Panikkar, Jonathan Tollefson
This article examines the social, historical and political constitution of land and resource imaginaries in Bristol Bay, Alaska. We compare the dynamics of these different imaginaries in the region within the early permitting debates concerning the proposed Pebble Mine to understand the contemporary politics of defining and constructing ideologies of extractive resource use. We show that the civic epistemologies and ontologies embedded in different social, scientific and political practices help explain environmental actions and outcomes...
October 2018: Social Studies of Science
Niccolò Tempini, Sabina Leonelli
This paper analyses the role of information security (IS) in shaping the dissemination and re-use of biomedical data, as well as the embedding of such data in material, social and regulatory landscapes of research. We consider data management practices adopted by two UK-based data linkage infrastructures: the Secure Anonymised Information Linkage, a Welsh databank that facilitates appropriate re-use of health data derived from research and routine medical practice in the region, and the Medical and Environmental Data Mash-up Infrastructure, a project bringing together researchers to link and analyse complex meteorological, environmental and epidemiological data...
October 2018: Social Studies of Science
Elise K Burton
Most Middle Eastern populations outside Israel have not been represented in Western-based international human genome sequencing efforts. In response, national-level projects have emerged throughout the Middle East to decode the Arab, Turkish and Iranian genomes. The discourses surrounding the 'national genome' that shape scientists' representation of their work to local and international audiences evoke three intersecting analytics of nationalism: methodological, postcolonial and diasporic. Methodologically, ongoing human genome projects in Turkey and Iran follow the population logics of other national and international genome projects, for example justifying research with reference to projected health benefits to their fellow citizens...
October 2018: Social Studies of Science
Jess Bier
This article analyzes the process of body recovery that took place after the sinking of the Titanic in 1912. Focusing on how identification was intertwined with valuation, I show how notions of economic class informed decisions about which human bodies were fit for preservation as human bodies. The RMS Titanic steamship was a microcosm of social circulation in the early 20th -century Atlantic, and life on board was systematically stratified according to economic class. During the recovery that following the sinking, 114 bodies, or one-third of the total recovered, were buried at sea, most of them crewmembers or immigrant passengers who had held third-class tickets...
October 2018: Social Studies of Science
Lauren Richter, Alissa Cordner, Phil Brown
Understandings of environmental governance both assume and challenge the relationship between expert knowledge and corresponding action. We explore this interplay by examining the context of knowledge production pertaining to a contested class of chemicals. Per-and polyfluorinated alkyl substances (PFASs) are widely used industrial compounds containing chemical chains of carbon and fluorine that are persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic. Although industry and regulatory scientists have studied the exposure and toxicity concerns of these compounds for decades, and several contaminated communities have documented health concerns as a result of their high levels of exposure, PFAS use remains ubiquitous in a large range of consumer and industrial products...
October 2018: Social Studies of Science
Heta Tarkkala, Aaro Tupasela
Since the sequencing of the human genome, as well as the completion of the first Human Genome Diversity Project, the benefits of studying one human population over another has been an ongoing debate relating to the replicability of findings in other populations. The leveraging of specific populations into research markets has made headlines in cases such as deCode in Iceland, Quebec Founder Population, and Generation Scotland. In such cases, researchers and policy makers have used the genetic and historical uniqueness of their populations to attract scientific, commercial and political interest...
October 2018: Social Studies of Science
Christian Dayé
Delphi is a procedure that produces forecasts on technological and social developments. This article traces the history of Delphi's development to the early 1950s, where a group of logicians and mathematicians working at the RAND Corporation carried out experiments to assess the predictive capacities of groups of experts. While Delphi now has a rather stable methodological shape, this was not so in its early years. The vision that Delphi's creators had for their brainchild changed considerably. While they had initially seen it as a technique, a few years later they reconfigured it as a scientific method...
September 19, 2018: Social Studies of Science
David S Jones, Kavita Sivaramakrishnan
In 1962, surgeons at two hospitals in Bombay used heart-lung machines to perform open-heart surgery. The devices that made this work possible had been developed in Minneapolis in 1955 and commercialized by 1957. However, restrictions on currency exchange and foreign imports made it difficult for surgeons in India to acquire this new technology. The two surgeons, Kersi Dastur and PK Sen, pursued different strategies to acquire the ideas, equipment, and tacit knowledge needed to make open-heart surgery work. While Dastur tapped Parsi networks that linked him to local manufacturing expertise, Sen took advantage of opportunities offered by the Rockefeller Foundation to access international training and medical device companies...
August 2018: Social Studies of Science
Philip Olson, Christine Labuski
In 2014, the United States Federal Aviation Administration chose six sites at which to conduct research crucial to integrating unmanned aircraft systems into the nation's airspace. Analyzing data collected from five focus groups that we conducted at one of these test sites, this article centers on the gendered and racialized politics of civilian unmanned aircraft. Civilian drone use remains a relatively unchallenged space for displaying hypermasculinity via technological expertise. Focusing on the topic of surveillance, we argue that a very particular, intersectional perspective - white technomasculinity - profoundly influences how civilian unmanned aircraft are imagined, designed and deployed...
August 2018: Social Studies of Science
Vladimir Jankovic
In the summer of 1999, the Serbian Ministry of Health issued a public health warning about the environmental risks associated with the total solar eclipse to took place on 11 August. The warning contained a list of phantom symptoms unknown to medical profession. Some of these included severe itching, hypertension, cardiac palpitation and frequent urination. Despite the warning's patent absurdity, the Serbian public widely observed it by seeking indoor and underground shelter from the lunar shadow, participating in what I term a 'great public disappearing act'...
August 2018: Social Studies of Science
Jason Jean, Yixi Lu
Since the middle of the twentieth century, there has been a heated debate between evolutionists and antievolutionists regarding whether or not evolution is a 'fact'. The debate has spawned a number of court cases involving antievolutionists describing evolution as a 'theory, not a fact'. An analysis of the 'fact of biological evolution' discourse reveals several overarching agreements among its advocates, but also a contradictory morass of positions regarding how scientific theories, hypotheses and facts interrelate, how these terms are related to biological evolution, what a scientific fact is, and how science popularizers use the scientific and public vernaculars...
August 2018: Social Studies of Science
Elizabeth Hennessy
The Galápagos Islands are often called a natural laboratory of evolution. This metaphor provides a powerful way of understanding space that, through scientific research, conservation and tourism, has shaped the archipelago over the past century. Combining environmental histories of field science with political ecologies of conservation biopower, this article foregrounds the territorial production of the archipelago as a living laboratory. In the mid-twentieth century, foreign naturalists used the metaphor to make land claims as they campaigned to create the Galápagos National Park and Charles Darwin Research Station...
August 2018: Social Studies of Science
Judy Z Segal
In August, 2015, the US Food and Drug Administration approved Addyi (flibanserin) for the treatment of Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder in premenopausal women. Ten months before that, the FDA had held a Patient-Focused Drug Development Public Meeting to address the 'unmet need' for a pharmaceutical to treat that condition. I attended that meeting as a rhetorical observer. This essay is an account of persuasive strategies used on, and then by, the FDA, as it considered approving a drug that was not convincingly either safe or effective...
August 2018: Social Studies of Science
Dick Kasperowski, Thomas Hillman
In the past decade, some areas of science have begun turning to masses of online volunteers through open calls for generating and classifying very large sets of data. The purpose of this study is to investigate the epistemic culture of a large-scale online citizen science project, the Galaxy Zoo, that turns to volunteers for the classification of images of galaxies. For this task, we chose to apply the concepts of programs and antiprograms to examine the 'essential tensions' that arise in relation to the mobilizing values of a citizen science project and the epistemic subjects and cultures that are enacted by its volunteers...
August 2018: Social Studies of Science
Manuel Tironi
Chemical toxicity is part of everyday life in Puchuncaví. The most polluted industrial compound in Chile, Puchuncaví is home of fourteen industrial complexes, including the largest copper smelting plant in the country and four thermoelectric plants. Stories of biological mutation, corrosion and death among plants, humans, fishes and cattle are proliferate in Puchuncaví. Engaging with the growing interest in care and affective modes of attention within STS, this paper examines how ill, intoxicated or otherwise affected people in Puchuncaví act upon and know about their chronic sufferings...
June 2018: Social Studies of Science
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