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Message posted on 12/01/2018

CFP - 4S Sydney Open Panel #94 Something from nothing: exploring non-discovery and negative claims

Dear colleagues,

We're pleased to invite paper abstracts for our open panel, "Something from
nothing: exploring non-discovery and negative claims" (#94), at this year's
Annual Meeting of the Society for Social Studies of Science (4s) in Sydney, 29
August - 1 September 2018.

Discovery claims dominate popular imaginations of progress and innovation in
science. How such claims are assembled from mundane practices and situated in
complex historical and material conditions has been a long-standing interest
of STS research. One insight is that much of the day-to-day work of
researchers is directed towards establishing 'negative knowledge' i.e. the
limits of knowledge as a precondition for positive claims (Knorr-Cetina,

Building on these insights, we would like to explore 'negative claims', i.e.
assertions of non-existence or the exclusion of (expected) results. Negative
claims are not only 'by-products' of research, but can be conceived as
transformative. Both 'successful' episodes (such as, the claim that humans do
not behave according to the predictions of rational choice models) and
'unsuccessful' episodes (such as, a shift in research strategies in
high-energy physics following a potential new particle turning into a
statistical fluke) illustrate the transformations of knowledge and practices
following negative claims.

After a discovery claim is established, the world is reported to be different;
in contrast, when you lose something you never had, seemingly nothing has
changed. We suggest the exploration of the question 'what has changed' from a
different angle, based on the observation that negative claims often violate
expectations and thus need to be accommodated practically and conceptually. In
this panel, we invite contributions that explore negative claims, broadly
construed. We are looking for case studies from all fields of research and
conceptual contributions that engage with the various ways in which the
'negative' is transformative.

Convenors: Helene Sorgner, Alpen-Adria-Universitt Klagenfurt (Austria);
Sophie Ritson, Alpen-Adria-Universitt Klagenfurt (Austria)

To submit abstracts of up to 250 words please follow this link:

Deadline 1st February 2018.

Looking forward to hearing from you,

Helene and Sophie
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