All posts by Ignacio Farias

EASST is looking for the new EASST Review Editor/s – Apply!

The EASST Review is the quarterly of the European Association for the Study of Science and Technology (EASST). Since its creation in 1982, the EASST Review has played a crucial role in the constitution of the field of science and technology studies in Europe and beyond. As a community-building knowledge infrastructure, the EASST Review has provided a heterogeneous space for learning about each other, debating about matters of common concern, and experimenting with other forms of writing. You can visit it online here: http://easst.net/easst-review/

In the last five years, the EASST Review has only begun to feature the work and stories of STS groups and/or departments based in Europe (section STS Multiple), tell the stories of different STS-related publication outlets (section Cherish, not Perish), stage debates about pressing political issues (section STS Live), as well as publish reports from STS and EASST-funded events in Europe and around the world. Currently, the Review comes out in January, April, July and September both as an online publication and in a downloadable PDF version. One important challenge for the EASST Review in the future is evolve its digital infrastructures, presence and identity. 

EASST Council is looking to appoint an editor or editorial team for the next four years. This honorary position is supported by an editorial board (to be renewed in conversation with the new editor), an editorial assistant and a graphic designer. The holder of this position becomes automatically a co-opted member of the EASST council. 

The main tasks of the editor/editorial team include:

  • Reaching out and communicating to potential authors of contributions to the different sections
  • Reviewing and copy-editing submitted contributions
  • Coordinating with EASST Council the publication of EASST announcements, reports on EASST-funded events, as well as reports on EASST biannual conferences
  • Coordinating and managing the publication process.
  • Participating and reporting about the EASST Review in the EASST Council meetings occurring twice a year throughout Europe.

If you are interested in becoming the new Editor/s of EASST Review, please submit an ‘expression of interest’ by January 10, 2020to the following email: easst@univie.ac.at Your expression of interest should include a CV (including a list of your participation in EASST related activities), as well as a one-page statement delineating your vision for the EASST Review.

Circling the Square: Re-designing nature-cultures in a changing urban climate

In November 2017 the workshop ‚Circling the Square: Re-designing nature-cultures in a changing urban climate’ took place at the Technical University of Munich. An international group of scholars from STS, landscape architecture, anthropology and design set to explore conceptual and political strategies to turn societal imaginaries of urban public squares upside down. Circling the square, we argued, is necessary to unleash the potential of these spaces and of certain design strategies to ensure urban sustainability and ecological conviviality in the Anthropocene.

Continue reading Circling the Square: Re-designing nature-cultures in a changing urban climate

A collaborative turn in STS?

Maybe it’s just me, but my sense is that STS is not just thriving, but that this might also be related to wider transformations of what STS might involve as an intellectual practice.

There is indeed so much going on, wherever one looks. This becomes particularly evident when you check, for instance, publication initiatives. In the last one or two years, highly interesting new open-access STS publication projects have come to life, arguably changing the landscape of what it means to engage in STS writing. New journals, such as Engaging Science, Technology, and Society of the 4S, the new Catalyst Journal with a focus on feminist techno-science, or the Goldsmiths’ based Demonstrations journal are just some prominent examples. Our association journal Science and Technology Studies has recently increased the number of issues per year given the rapid increase in high quality submissions. Editorial projects, such as Mattering Press and meson press, are opening up new spaces and ways of conceiving of monographic books in STS.

At the EASST Review, the year couldn’t have begun better. For the first time since its launch, the Review has appointed an editorial board. It is composed by a fantastic group of STS scholars, including (alphabetically): Tomas S. Criado from Technical University of Munich, Andrei Kuznetzov from Tomsk University, Josefine Raasch from Ruhr-University Bochum, Vicky Singleton from Lancaster University and Niki Vermeulen from Edinburgh University. By the end of this year, Liliana Doganova from Mines ParisTech will also join the board. I’d like to officially welcome all of you and thank you in advance for the years to come. Indeed, whilst during the last year we have been making slight formal changes to the Review, also adding a couple of new sections (STS Multiple and Cherish, not Perish), the new editorial board will enable us to strengthen the Review as a key space for exchange, collaboration and reflection.

Or take STS events. The eurograd mailing list offers probably a good indicator that the number of STS events organized by individual ‘heroes’, research collectives, departments and national associations has not just significantly increased in the last couple of years, but also that the variety of techno-scientific issues addressed continues to expand at a fast pace. I think it is fair to say that the overwhelming number of submissions (more than 2500!) received for the ‘Science and Technology by other means’ EASST/4S Conference in Barcelona didn’t take that many by surprise – and not just because Barcelona is such a nice place to visit. Crucially important was, I think, the work put so far by the local organizing committee, especially in terms of proposing a set of questions that displace the study of science and technology to other sites and, most importantly, that invite us to explore our ethical and political commitments to those other means of thinking, researching and infrastructuring contemporary collectives. No wonder thus the major success, which from what I have heard and understood, is also due to the fact that such questions and commitments have also become of interest for researchers from other disciplines (designers, geographers, architects, etc.), as well as for concerned and activist groups.

Indeed, if one had to grasp the spirit of the many current STS initiatives in a diversity of fields, I would argue that the so much discussed ‘ontological turn’ is far from grasping what is currently going on. Rather, I would like to paraphrase a question posed by Antoine Hennion in a recent visit to Munich: ‘How can one engage in STS today if not collaboratively?’ Collaboration defines indeed a very specific mode of engaging in STS as an intellectual practice – somewhat different in spirit from the one STS developed in the early days, mostly oriented at turning radically upside down conventional understandings of scientific practice, research policy, technology design and development, techno-economic innovation systems, etc. This is arguably still today the most widespread mode of practicing STS. More recently, since the 1990s perhaps, we have witnessed an important transformation of STS, as it began to expand its theoretical insights, analytical perspectives and empirical sensibilities beyond science and technology to explore and engage with a number of other objects: arts, markets, government, design, care, disasters, cities, etc. STS, thus, entered a mode of not just opening up the back box of science and technology, but also of studying all sorts of phenomena across society. But what is now becoming apparent is again something different, namely, the consolidation of a collaborative mode of practicing STS involving committed action-research projects based on dialogue, mutual learning and caring relationships within heterogeneous collectives.

A collaborative STS is by no means a new intellectual practice per se. A short look at the long and powerful tradition of feminist technoscience suffices to understand that this has been an on-going concern since the early 1980s. But, as Mike Michael commented the other day, after the launch of our book Studio Studies at Goldsmiths, when you read the titles of the open-tracks for the Barcelona conference, you get the sense that what was for a long time a minoritarian position in STS has now become the new mainstream. Now, to be sure, if there ever was a mainstream we can join without any complexes, this is the one. Accordingly, my hope for the EASST Review is that it will increasingly become a space in which such committed and collaborative forms of STS could have a broader and stronger presence.

EASST Conference Call 2018

The next EASST-only conference will take place in 2018. Council is interested in hearing from any group who would be interested in hosting this conference.
On the basis of recent evidence the conference is likely to involve between 600 and 800 participants. Conferences are usually organised by a local organising committee supported by a wider programme committee and the EASST Council. EASST is in the process of developing its administrative systems and may be able to provide more support in this regard than it has been able to do in the past.

EASST Council would particularly welcome expressions of interest from a location, or an approach to organising, that will be likely to further develop participation from those coming from parts of Europe currently under-represented within EASST (this particularly applies to Southern and Eastern Europe).
A successful conference requires a strong local organisation. Traditionally conferences have been organised from one academic organisation. However Council would also be interested in receiving proposals from groups who could achieve this strength via a different kind of network – say those within different institutions in the same location or as a partnership between institutions in different locations.

Conferences work well when they provide good opportunities for informal interaction as well as the more formal parts of the programme. This can be achieved in a small compact location but EASST has also had successful conferences in large cities. Council would be interested in hearing how organisers would achieve this objective in their proposed location. EASST’s preference is for a conference held in an academic location, organised by STS scholars keen to give the event a local character in terms of a theme and activities. The location and the approach to organising the conference needs to provide a range of accommodation which is affordable for participants in different circumstances and makes possible an overall conference fee that will allow wide participation.

Expressions of interest should include an outline budget and give an indication of available dates. It is difficult to find a date that suits teaching periods in all countries but early July or September seem to be most acceptable.

Council is happy to answer any further questions from interested parties and would expect to have further informal discussions before reaching a firm decision. Please send any proposals to easst(at)univie.ac.at by 1st April 2016.

The 2016 EASST Awards – call for nominations

Since our 2012 conference in Copenhagen, EASST has been celebrating collaboration and cooperation in our field through a set of awards. In 2016 the awards will be presented at the joint EASST/4S conference in Barcelona. The call of nominations is open and this document describes the rationale for the awards as well as the process and conditions for nomination.

 

Rationale

The tension between the recognition of individual achievement and the appreciation of collective contribution is a long observed dilemma of the academic endeavour. Although there is some evidence in the wider knowledge system of a shift toward team efforts and greater collaboration, the institutional career reward system has increasingly favoured individually authored publication outputs as the prime measure of performance. This is accompanied by a growing tendency toward competitive point-scoring between institutions.

As an organisation representing a broad collection of professional scholars and researchers, the EASST Council believes there is a need to restore a healthier balance within the reward system between individual achievement and collective contribution. There is a need to recognise more explicitly significant types of collaboration or leadership that has contributed to the cohesion of, and community within, our field. In order to do this a new range of EASST awards was launched in 2012 designed to reward outstanding activities, which have significantly developed interactions between individuals and resulted in novel and influential collaborative results. There is a significant potential of STS scholarship in Europe for influencing politics and public dialogue, which is not sufficiently exploited. The creation of awards can help to remedy this by creating more visibility of STS insights.

The three awards were named in the honour of individuals who are no longer with us, yet have left an enduring imprint on our distinctive European scholarly identity over the last 30 years. The awards, however, are not exclusively intended for single individuals but can also be given to an organization, a community or a group of people.

 

Ziman award

The Ziman award will be made for a significant innovative collaborative activity to promote public interaction with science and technology.

This could involve, for example, a forum or discussion community, or an interface with non-academic users. Selection will be based on originality and influence alongside collaboration and / or wider participation.

John Ziman had a distinguished career as a theoretical physicist and was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1967. He died in 2005 at the age of 79. His book on the social dimensions of science – Public Knowledge, was published in 1967 and marked the first of a series of influential studies of science as a collective human endeavour. In the mid 1980s he joined the Department of Social and Economic Studies at Imperial College, London and set up the Science Policy Support Group for the Economic and Social Research Council. He was actively involved in a variety of initiatives concerning the social responsibility of science. John Ziman was a key figure in the formation of EASST and was its President from 1983 – 1986. He was an avid promoter of initiatives at the public interface of science and was an eloquent and witty commentator on the popular understanding of science.

 

Amsterdamska award

The Amsterdamska award will be made for a significant creative collaboration in an edited book or special issue in the broad field of science and technology studies.

Selection will be based on an anthology in the broad field of STS, that through its publication process (such as series of meetings, collective work, etc.) and due to the quality of the volume makes a substantive contribution to the field in terms of originality or impact; the quality of the editing, as reflected in the quality of the volume as a whole; interdisciplinarity, while not a requirement, will be valued; inclusiveness across career stages will also be valued.

Olga Amsterdamska was lecturer in Science & Technology Studies at the University of Amsterdam for 25 years. She died in 2009 at the age of 55. Following a study of schools of thought in linguistics she focused her personal work on epistemology in biomedicine. She was editor of Science, Technology & Human Values between 1994 and1998. During Olga’s editorship of the journal, the STS community benefitted from all of her core traits as an academic – her open mind and broad vision of the field and dedication to its development, her warm-heartedness and inclusiveness, and her incisive critical thinking and high standards of quality. These were also qualities that Olga brought with her to EASST and 4S meetings through the years and that helped make those meetings the community-building enterprises they have become. She was one of the editors of the third edition of the Handbook of Science and Technology Studies (2007).

 

Freeman award

The Freeman award will be made for a publication which is a significant collective contribution to the interaction of science and technology studies with the study of innovation

Selection will be based on the successful development of social approaches to the dynamics of innovation, originality, and better understanding of the pursuit of innovation for societal and environmental goals. Consideration will be given to the publication process (such as series of meetings, collective work, etc.) as well as the publication itself.

Chris Freeman was Professor of Science Policy at the University of Sussex for over 20 years and also with the University of Limburg for many years. He died in 2010 at the age of 88. An economist by background, he produced many highly influential works addressing the dynamics of innovation and the Schumpeterian analysis of long waves of technological change. He also wrote on the social and political aspects of science. He was a founder of the major research centres SPRU and MERIT and was the founder and long standing editor of the journal Research Policy. An internationalist in outlook he was a key promoter of PAREX, a European collaboration in the history and social studies of science that was the direct forerunner of EASST. A modest yet inspiring figure he was renowned for his warm enthusiasm and supportiveness for all who shared a genuine interest in science, technology and society, whatever their background. He was deeply committed to social change for a more just and sustainable world.

 

General conditions for the awards

The awards are presented at the 2016 EASST/4S conference in Barcelona. For each award a € 1000 prize will be associated.

The deadline for nominations is 1 February 2016

Nominations should be sent to to awards@easst.net using the nomination form available from the EASST website (www.easst.net)

  • For the Amsterdamska and Freeman awards, contributions must have been published in 2014 or later. For the Ziman award, current impact / influence should be demonstrated .
  • An underlying criteria for all awards is evidence of collaboration
  • Collaborations should have a distinctive European dimension

For all awards the following conditions also apply:

  • The award process will be managed by the EASST Council
  • Self-nominations are accepted
  • Submissions for one award may be considered for another if deemed appropriate
  • Council members are not eligible as leaders of collaborative awards during the time of their service

The list of winners of previous awards can be found on the EASST website homepage (www.easst.net)

 

Procedure for nomination

Submissions will only be accepted if they include a completed nomination form.

Submissions must include a copy of all materials, which the nominator wishes to be considered. If possible these should be in electronic form (pdfs). Otherwise printed copies can be sent. Please do not specify web links as part of the submission unless the achievement is a website or similar.
Submissions must be emailed to awards@easst.net by 1st February 2016. Any material which needs to be sent in printed form should be posted to:
Professor Maja Horst

Department of Media, Cognition and Communication, University of Copenhagen

Karen Blixens Vej 4

DK-2300 Copenhagen S

Denmark.

 

Please retain proof of posting on or before 1st February 2016.
For any enquiries please contact awards@easst.net.

EASST/4S Conference. Barcelona 2016. August 31-September 3. “Science and Technology by Other Means”

Less than a year for the next EASST/4S joint conference!

The call for tracks has been a real success. The deadline for open track submissions is over and the link to the submission system has been removed. The organization has received 179 proposals. After the work of the Scientific Committee 100 tracks have been accepted, a few of them with suggestions. Besides that, 12 more tracks have ben accepted with alternative formats.

 

Conference Abstracts Submissions

The call for abstracts is almost ready. It will appear very soon in the web of the conference (http://www.sts2016bcn.org). There you will find the details of the procedure to follow and the list of tracks accepted.

For the Joint EASST/4Sconference 2016 we encourage to propose papers that broadly address the meeting’s theme ‘Science and Technology by Other Means’.

Abstracts can be submitted to open tracks, but you are also able to submit closed session proposals. These are proposed sessions submitted with a number of papers with a shared focus. Session proposals should be based on the assumption of one-and-half hour time slots with fifteen minutes per presentation. A typical session may have four papers, one discussant, and open discussion slot. The program chair may assign additional papers to proposed sessions to meet the typical session composition. The call for paper abstracts will include instructions on the way to submit such closed sessions.

We welcome your participation.

 

Conference Motto

Some decades ago several STS scholars defended that science and technology could be considered as ‘politics by other means’. Many years have gone through, and STS researchers are increasingly turning their attention towards proposals and experiences where science and technology are increasingly performed ‘by other means’: in a variety of exploratory activities that include the articulation of collectives that do not fit with the traditional actors in science and technology, or in ways that problematize the established value systems involved in the production of knowledge and technologies –e.g. fostering the creation of open science, DIY design and commons-based p2p projects, citizen science and maker communities, feminist and environmentalist technoscience projects, and many other platforms seeking to create alternatives to public/private technoscientific arrangements.

Emerging science and technology practices show how public and private actors are being re-assembled along routes that do not follow once established divides: science and technology are increasingly produced by private not-for-profit actors, such as CSOs, patient organizations and new citizens’ collectives, whilst traditional public institutions once entrusted with the mission of ‘producing’ science and technology for the common good, like universities and research centers, are being transformed into for-profit organizations subjected to productivity bonus, austerity measures and new public management accounting principles. These emerging and consolidating phenomena destabilise and re-signify existing public and private spaces, whilst generating new ones. In turn, new technoscientific communities and unexpected political mobilizations are ongoingly opening up, incessantly engendering other contested options, as well as forging routes to explore more democratic and hospitable futures in the times of care, housing, food, financial and environmental crisis.

The joint 2016 4S/EASST conference in Barcelona will be an opportunity to share reflections, ideas, findings and projects on a variety of aspects characterizing these alternative ways to do science and technology: (a) such as the fact that, for instance, all of these transformations usually take place in blurred everyday spaces and not in those enclosed established spaces for science and technology development, such as laboratories or industrial R&D departments; (b) or, in a similar way, the fact that research and innovation processes are increasingly organized in networked, horizontal assemblages where the traditional hierarchies in science are put into question and where science and technology are being co-produced by different actors in different, sometimes antagonistic, ways; (c) and, finally, the fact that traditional boundaries between the public and the private are no longer confined to state and for-profit actors, care practices taking a preeminent presence in most of these everyday situations.

Important Dates

2016, February 21: Deadline for abstract submissions to open tracks and for closed sessions proposals

2016, March 13: Convenors’ deadline for abstracts acceptances/rejections/relocations;

2016, April 17: Communication of acceptance/rejection of abstracts to authors, ran king/ordering and opening of online registrations;

2016, May 9: First draft of the organization of each thematic session;

2016, June 1: Final draft of the organization of each thematic session (to be sent by the convenors to the Scientific and Local Committee);

2016, June 15: Early registrations deadline;

2016, July 1: All presenters must register to be included in the program. For papers with more than one author, one presenter must register to be included in the final program.

2016, July 15: Publication on the website of the final Conference program.

2016, July 30: Closing of online registration.

Contacts for further information

You can email any enquiries related to the track submission to program@sts2016bcn.org, for any other issue please contact to general@sts2016bcn.org

News from EASST Council

EASST Council meets twice a year to discuss on-going business. We normally rotate around the cities / institutions of Council members and in October we were at the recently founded Munich Centre for Technology in Society which is part of the Technical University of Munich. We were hosted by Ignacio Farias, EASST Council member and EASST Review Editor.

Some of the things we discussed extensively – including the forthcoming EASST / 4S Conference in Barcelona in 2016 and a new round of EASST Awards for Collaborative Activity – are reported elsewhere in the Review. We also discussed conferences more generally. This is part of on-going discussions about whether EASST should have conference more frequently. If you have views on this we would be pleased to hear them.

We had an extensive discussion about publications. Science & Technology Studies our peer reviewed, online journal is doing very well in terms of submissions and readership. There will be exciting developments to be announced in the New Year. Council is very pleased with the development of EASST Review and discussed plans for a group of people to support the editor, to generate more copy, and to make it more readable via the website. More widely we are upgrading our website so that it is more suited to tablets and mobiles.

Council discussed a range of initiatives in the field that we feel it is important to link to in various ways. One of them is the International Panel on Social Progress, a global initiative with a strong cross-cutting presence of STS colleagues which will produce a draft report in the middle of 2016. EASST will seek to facilitate dialogue around this. Another is our discussions with ESST on initiatives to promote and extend collaborative Masters level activities and knowledge exchange in Europe. These and others will be discussed in future issues of the Review. We are also planning a further meeting with National STS associations in the New Year where these and other issues will be addressed. If you are part of such an association and haven’t been involved in previous meetings, then please do get in touch.

There was also discussion of the way EASST business is progressed between meetings. Council members took on different areas of responsibility to try to ensure that all the good ideas that come up when we meet lead to tangible outcomes in the months ahead!

AsSIST-UK: Report on Launch Event, August 25, 2015

03 FullSizeRender_3

1. Background

The launch event was the culmination of many months of planning and discussion by the Development Group (DG)((see Annex for members of the Development Group)). The STIS community has many strong and long-standing informal links and makes a major contribution to the intellectual agenda within UK, as seen for example through the high quality of REF returns and impact case studies associated with the field.

The growth of the field has created the opportunity and the need for a more inclusive and more proactive organisation today when the apparatuses for research training and research funding are being transformed. For example, the next round of the ESRC Doctoral Training Centres will include Calls for ‘Centres for Doctoral Training’ which will not be discipline-based (as most DTCs are) but be thematic and require cross-disciplinary work on themes that bridge the social/natural sciences and Arts/Humanities.

The DG hope that the new national association will build on these links in a more formal way and in particular provide an important platform through which we can influence debate at national level, feed into and respond to research council initiatives, and support the new generation of STIS scholars – especially PhDs and postdocs – as well as engage with national and international bodies, such as EASST.

2. Statement of Foundational Principles

The meeting was opened by Andrew Webster and Robin Williams and delegates received and adopted the Association’s core principles which are:

• to represent our emerging field in discussions with academic communities, with research and education institutions and funding and policy bodies, and with wider publics
• to support the development of research and scholarship and related activities and bring this work to the attention of interested audiences
• to support trans-disciplinary collaboration and engagement with scientists, engineers, government, public and industry
• to support education and training and capacity development
• to explore mutually beneficial interaction and collaboration with other bodies in the field with cognate purposes

3. STIS Themes and Issues

Four themes were discussed in two parallel sessions. The main points raised in each were:

The process and practice of innovation
Chair: Anne-Marie Coles, Leader of the Sustainability, Technology & Innovation Research Group, University of Greenwich; Rapporteur Athena Piterou, University of Greenwich

The Chair raised the issue of whether STIS (or perhaps more specifically Science and Technology Studies [STS]) constitutes a unique scientific paradigm in the study of innovation considering the innovation studies field is also very diverse with most areas of business and management studies having something to contribute to the study of innovation.

One distinction may be that Innovation studies tend to focus at the firm level unlike STS which focuses on socio-technologies. This focus could mean that STS is better positioned to identify emerging technologies earlier. STS explores the nexuses between firms-technologies-users.

STS also addresses technology adoption and reconfiguration rather than solely technology generation (examples given by participants included technologies for the disabled, technology and ageing, and the commercialisation of medical technologies). Innovation is often perceived as the process through which the commercialisation of inventions occurs: there is a need to broaden the term and it might be that theoretical constructs specific to STS such as social constructionism, ANT and critical realism can make a contribution to the study of innovation.

What are the main contributions of STIS in the understanding of innovation?

• An emphasis on bottom-up processes and practices and an avoidance of technological determinism, asking why socio-technical developments take different paths?
• An understanding that innovation processes and structures might be found in diverse fields including domains such as art.
• Innovation entails circulation and use: following a technology from inception to use is a central interest of the field, especially in regard to context of use (and it was suggested that there is a trend away from non-consumer facing technologies such as military technologies towards consumer oriented technologies)
• Factors inhibiting innovation are also addressed by the field (for example, see studies relating to nuclear power and past innovation and practices)
• STIS explicitly deals with social processes and politics (for example in regard to debates over sustainability and fracking technology)

In regard to policy, there are increasing expectations that social science can facilitate the path to innovation, but how and whether the community plays this role is a matter for debate. It was recognised however that closer interaction between innovators and STS researchers would be beneficial.

Governance and policy for STI
Chair: Johan Schot, Director, SPRU, University of Sussex; Rapporteur: Kieron Flanagan, Manchester Institute of Innovation Research, Manchester Business School

The Chair introduced the session, summarising the historical contexts within which governance has emerged, from early days relating to fostering R&D capacity, the development of national systems of innovation approach, the formalisation of technology appraisal and assessment and societal concerns, through to today’s move to ‘Responsible research and innovation’ and a model that presumes a role for civil society in STI policy. He suggested there is a pressing need for a new governance model where civil society is more active in shaping innovation, where there is a need for a more global and more collective range of solutions to the challenges of STI, especially where the nation-state is less powerful in managing STI. AsSIST-UK should provide a platform where the governance challenges of today are understood and guidance on them provided.

Discussion focused on the need for developing a robust understanding of the political economy of STI and the different options and choices that exist but only some of which are chosen. Of equal significance however is that policy circles do not take on the repertoire/findings of STIS research, so some core questions for AsSIST-UK are:

• Why aren’t ideas that members take for granted not adopted or even known in policy circles?
• What can we learn from the economics of innovation which does have generally good links to policy?
• What is distinctive about STIS in the UK, including the UK as a site of study? What do we offer as a UK network?
• How can we encourage the meaningful participation of stakeholders and practitioners into AsSIST-UK, including by mobilising our own contacts and alumni?
• What should be the relationship between the STIS and the STEM communities, given that conversations about the governance of ST&I tend to (and will likely continue to) be dominated by STEM actors? How can we work in partnership with them rather than antagonistically?
• Are the dangers to the STIS community of a more policy/politically engaged stance, such as becoming identified with particular ideological positions?

Discussion centred around whether the STIS community have really engaged with policy actors and debates or rather tended to criticise from the outside, taking a disparaging view of policy makers rather than seeing them as actors embedded in complex systems which constrain them in many ways. Indeed it was felt that a good starting point for AsSIST-UK would be to recognise that both STIS people and policy people are very diverse groups and that we need a much better picture of the governance relations discussed above.

03 FullSizeRender_2   03 fsr 4

 

Values and valuation
Chair: Vicky Singleton, Director of Women’s Studies/Director of the Centre for Science Studies, University of Lancaster; Rapporteur Ruth McNally, Anglia Ruskin University

The Chair introduced the session with the issue that all of the work of STIS has value embedded in it and as an Association a key question is how do we engage with the notion of values?

• What particular issues or values (e.g. such as ‘open access’) would we as an association want to attend to or uphold?
• How might AsSIST-UK evaluate different values?
• Should AsSIST-UK attempt to manage different normative positions and become engaged in conflict resolution (e.g. that which is possible between sustainability and economic competitiveness)?
• What unique contribution does STIS make to the concept of values and what should we as an Association do with that?

It was noted that STIS may have already lost the initiative with regard to certain key core values, specifically, that ‘participation’ and ‘openness’ that were originally championed by STIS have since been taken up by a wide range of organisations and interpreted in various ways. This posed the question – should AsSIST-UK presume to define these terms in public discourse?

STIS has historically been engaged in values in another way, namely, through critical analysis of evaluation processes – of the processes for setting acceptable levels of safety or quality, decision-making power over which has typically been given to an elite group. STIS case studies have challenged the presumption that such decisions about acceptable safety or quality levels are neutral and objective and based solely on scientific evidence. Instead, STIS studies have articulated how such decisions are, in practice, always value-laden, and argued for opening up the power to decide to a more representative group – a call for the democratisation of decision-making. Indeed, the ‘democratisation of technoscientific decision-making’ is another value associated with STIS – should this be championed by AsSIST-UK?

However, it was pointed out that even within STIS there is divergence : not all values are shared across STIS. Moreover, adopting a strong value position could get in the way of our research practices. However, one of the hallmarks of STIS is recognition that our research can never be value-free, and in the spirit of transparency it was suggested that we flag up our own values and bring these to the fore when we engage in research

Aside from particular values that STIS studies champion, STIS makes a unique analytical and methodological contribution to the concept of values through its empirical work. From these studies, STIS articulates how, rather than being abstract, values are realised and enacted through material practices, and that they are emergent and relational and co-produced in specific contexts.
We are also experts at exposing the value laden-ness of situations and decisions – the value positions that are often hidden and not recognised – both our own and those of whom we study.
But if we take this expertise forward as an Association, what difference would that make? Providing expert opinion on the concept of values could bring us into conflict with older disciplines, e.g. philosophy, who feel that this is their territory. However, speaking out on our perspective on values could, perhaps, challenge the idea that values are something that are abstract and can be applied with an alternative conceptualisation of how they are socio-material and relational; and it might also raise awareness of hidden values and the extent to which they affect all of our lives.

Engagement and civil society
Chair: Theo Papaioannou, Head of Development Policy and Practice, Open University; Rapporteur: Stevie de Saille, Sociological Studies, University of Sheffield

The Chair introduced the session raising a number of broad themes for debate. For example, engaging citizens and ensuring inclusivity in science has been promoted by some as a solution to a crisis of trust, but is it? Can engagement be more genuinely democratic, more successful in directing innovation towards inclusivity? How does the world of science communication frame the notion of citizen science? What are the benefits and political challenges of engagement with civil society and what can AsSIST-UK do to promote engagement, if indeed that might be one of its roles?

A conventional model of engagement focuses on dialogue – “getting people round the table” – which is seen as the gold standard. But engagement happens in many different ways, via protest for example, patient groups, people calling for access to knowledge, and using or designing socio-technologies so as to be more beneficial for the community. We should not fall into trap of equating engagement merely with dialogue. In this regard it is especially useful to have a new national Association to study how forms of engagement are or can be embedded in this particular political economy at this time. Crucially, the new Association should not in itself take specific positions – instead addressing how society/policy provides access to information is a key priority. Engagement is in this sense contingent on access to relevant information, and the need for the progressive transparency of information.

There are useful developments within government and the Research Councils here. The Association might, for example, work with devolved governments in the four UK nations, who are experimenting with policy at the local level, and who are yet to become path-dependent in the ways in which they define and practice engagement, while the turn towards open policymaking in the Cabinet Office is another opportunity to explore. Eventually AsSIST-UK could have colleagues who take up that task in a more regionally-based way.

There was also a need to engage with diverse publics and individuals, as well as with academic communities outside of STIS – especially Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics (STEM) disciplines – and with schools (as for example the RGS does through its engagement with teaching programmes in schools).

There was also a suggestion that AsSIST-UK members should review their projects and impact case studies conducted for the recent Research Excellence Framework (REF) to see how they have actually engaged the community, and to share good practice on this. The Science in Public network is also a useful vehicle through which this might be done, reflecting on how we communicate our ideas, articulating in ways that make sense to people who are not specialists in our area, and thinking about how to present ideas in a mixed audience: communication training as a goal not just for postdocs but for all of us. It was also argued that it was equally important for AsSIST-UK to listen and respond to ideas from diverse publics – especially marginalised groups – about how they make sense of technologies in their everyday lives, and what they see as valuable forms of engagement and what spaces there are for critical engagement.

The role of social media was discussed and the role of different forms through which engagement with AsSIST-UK might be enabled, especially through Twitter which attracts more interests than websites (though we will need the latter too). Whatever routes are used, these need to be chosen in light of a proper communications strategy.

It was suggested that an AsSIST-UK workshop could be developed that would discuss how impact is generated, how different publics understand science and technology and how, and through what media tools, we can communicate STIS ideas to them.

4. Next steps

The meeting discussed a number of priorities for the immediate future: the Development Group should

• Move towards a formal public announcement of the establishing of the Association and its specific aims, role and values
• Establish an interim national email list of contacts which would include all delegates and others unable to attend
• Subsequently, establish a formal register of members and website
• Liaise with other cognate associations, such as BSHS, and networks, such as Science In Public and establish working relations with them
• Build links between STIS and the STEM communities drawing on known links members have already
• Contact our former postgraduate students now working in STI policy settings as a way of broadening contacts/ideas between AsSIST-UK and diverse communities
• Support the establishment of the proposed Postgraduate Forum on Science in Society and make this a semi-independent PGR group attached to AsSIST-UK
• Liaise with the ESRC, Wellcome Trust and other key research funding agencies to discuss how the Association might secure funding for specific initiatives (such as a Summer School)
• Undertake some preliminary work mining the REF returns and impact case studies as well as the ESRC database on research bids funded in the STIS field in order to build a more informed and up-to-date picture of the STIS research base
• Identify timing and location for a national Conference in 2016
• Take forward the proposal for a ‘Controversies in STIS’ text with Routledge and facilitate Palgrave Macmillan in developing links with prospective STIS authors.

03 FullSizeRender

AsSIST-UK: Current Development Group Members (2015)

Professor Brian Balmer, Professor in Science Policy Studies, Department of STS, UCL London.
Dr Anne-Marie Coles, Director of the Sustainability, Technology & Innovation Research Group, University of Greenwich
Farzana Dudhwala, Doctoral Candidate, Institute for Science, Innovation and Society , University of Oxford
Professor Jakob Edler, Professor of Innovation Policy and Strategy, and Executive Director, Manchester Institute of Innovation Research, Manchester Business School
Dr Kieron Flanagan, Senior Lecturer in Science and Technology Policy, Manchester Institute of Innovation Research, Manchester Business School
Dr Dawn Goodwin, Centre for Science Studies and Medical School. University of Lancaster
Professor Reiner Grundmann, Professor of Science and Technology Studies, University of Nottingham
Professor Adam Hedgecoe, Director of Cesagene, School of Social Sciences, Cardiff University
Professor Anne Kerr, Head of School, Sociology and Social Policy, University of Leeds
Dr Javier Lezaun, Deputy Director, Institute for Science, Innovation and Society, University of Oxford
Professor Paul Martin, Head of Department of Sociological Studies, University of Sheffield
Dr Theo Papaioannou, Reader in Politics of Innovation and Development, Faculty of Maths, Computing and Technology, The Open University
Dr Stevienna de Saille, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Department of Sociological Studies, University of Sheffield
Professor Johan Schot, Director, SPRU, University of Sussex.
Dr Vicky Singleton, Co-Director of Lancaster Centre for Science Studies and Co-Director of Centre for Gender and Women’s Studies.
Professor Fred Steward, Professor of Innovation and Sustainability, PSI, University of Westminster/President EASST
Dr Jack Stilgoe, Department of STS, UCL London.
Julia Swallow, Doctoral Candidate, Sociology and Social Policy, University of Leeds
Professor Andrew Webster, Director SATSU, University of York
Professor Robin Williams, Director, ISSTI, University of Edinburgh
Ros Williams, Doctoral Candidate, SATSU, Department of Sociology, University of York

Science in Society: from Elite Media to Mass and Entertainment Culture. Conference Report of #POPSCI2015: Science, Research and Popular Culture

Research on science communication and public engagement with science so far has strongly focused on science content in journalistic news media and so far only a few studies have seriously examined other products of media and popular culture. However, scholars such as Görke and Ruhrmann (2003) or Maio (2006) stress that entertainment media also influence public perceptions of science, research and technology, such as genetic risks and beliefs and prejudices about biotechnology, and should therefore be studied accordingly.

Science education and science journalism will, of course, still be important sources of information for many people. However, the historian A. Bowdoin Van Riper (2003: 1104) asserts: “Popular culture probably does more than formal science education to shape most people’s understanding of science and scientists. It is more pervasive, more eye-catching, and (with rare exceptions) more memorable.” Recent research has confirmed this view. For instance, a study by Tan et al. (2015) found that popular culture und media strongly influence and shape how young children view scientists.

To address the issue how popular culture and science and research interact, our conference sought to bring together various perspectives and disciplines, including various scholars, scientists and researchers, artists, and media professionals. The aim was to collect various international perspectives on this so far relatively under-researched topical complex concerning the interactions between science, research and popular culture. The conference in Klagenfurt featured around thirty presentations and contributions from speakers from thirteen different countries and therefore also perspectives on science and popular culture from various cultural traditions (including Taiwan, Philippines, Brazil, USA, Europe). For the organization of the conference it was of special interest, that the speakers followed different approaches and addressed various formats, genres and issues of popular culture, science and research.

For instance, we heard about how science and research are presented and represented in variety of different formats: in fictional movies (Kirby, Winter), TV series (Colatrella, Pillipets) and documentaries (Hahn, Weik von Mossner), in comic books and cartoons (Cunningham, dela Cruz et al.), in music and music videos (Huang, Seidel), on social media sites (Marsh, Geipel, Muñoz Morcillo et al.), in artistic and theatrical performances (Weitkamp), science slams (Hill), popular satire (Bankes), Brazilian carnival (de Castro Moreira), and in science as a leisure activity and adventure on holidays (Javault). We heard how popularisation of physics (Yeh, Sava) and Mathematics (Groeschl) become part of popular culture, and the role arts and the visual play in popularisation of science and research (Hommrich, Nielsen, Wang), as well as the presentation of science both in science fiction (Åberg, Nowak, Rieder and Völker) and other popular film and literary genres (Svalastog, Stengler).

Among other issues and topics, the speakers examined the role humour and aesthetics play in the popular representation of science and research and how they are being used for public science communication. Questions that the contributors asked with their research included how specific disciplines of science and research were depicted in various formats of popular culture and how various audiences perceive science and research in various popular cultural formats. Another interesting question also concerned the reach of various popular depictions and representations of science and research, from comparatively small local audiences in theatre performances and science slams to global mass audiences in blockbuster Hollywood movies (see also Weitkamp 2015). Various speakers also pondered the role of science and technology studies perspectives on popular culture, as well as those of cultural studies, media studies, literary theory and arts perspectives among others on science and research.

It was also of interest how scientists and researchers themselves relate to issues, themes, topics and channels of popular culture as well. An interesting perspective was added here by the ecologist Bernhard Seidel, who is an expert on the ecology and migration patterns of mosquitos and other animals and insects, and winner of various arts awards. In his presentation Seidel outlined how he became increasingly concerned about ecological problems caused by hydropower based on his research findings and consequently how he turned from being a neutral scientist to becoming a science and eco activist.

Seidel’s strategy to reach out to the public, media and policy makers was to make use of popular culture, particularly popular music. As a musician he wrote and performed various songs about ecological problems and also recorded various Audio-CDs in order to make his voice heard. As a special treat Seidel performed several of his songs live at the conference venue after giving an evening lecture on his research. The scientist-singer-songwriter assumes that it is much easier to gain the interest of a significant audience with an emotional and catchy song, than with sober research results alone.

Another route was taken by cartoon artist Darry Cunningham, who used a biographical approach in his keynote talk to expound how he ended up drawing cartoons about psychiatry and mental illnesses (Psychiatric Tales: Eleven Graphic Stories About Mental Illness) and public controversies about science (Science Tales: Lies, Hoaxes and Scams).

In an informal session and atmosphere Global Young Academy member and conference delegate Thomas Edison Dela Cruz from Manila played the inquiry-based science education game Expedition Mundus with the conference participants. The open source game Expedition Mundus was created by the Dutch Young Academy as an entertaining and playful tool to capture the interest of young people for scientific thinking and research by simulating an expedition to an alien planet. Apart from getting to know each other this event also was an interesting practical example on how playful entertainment can foster scientific thinking and understanding.

It is not possible to easily sum up the many different perspectives heard and seen at the conference. However, we think many of the delegates seem to agree that when we are interested in the study of science and society we need to go where the people are and need to study what people consume happily and voluntarily in their everyday life, also in terms of cultural products, if we want to get a better understanding of how science and research are represented in public and what their public perception is. As mentioned before research on science communication has so far strongly focused on elite media (such as the New York Times etc.) and popular and entertainment media got comparatively little attention so far, despite being very influential as well.

Various scientific institutions – such as the National Academy of Sciences in the United States or the Welcome Trust in the UK – have recognized the importance of popular cultural formats for the public image and understanding of science, and science and technology scholars and other researchers interested in science and society interactions are well advised not to underestimate the impact and influence of popular culture in society, but also in science and research.

Back in the days interest in science and research was often associated with high levels of education and often also with higher classes and strata of society. However, we notice that in the popularisation of science and research and also with various attempts to recruit young people for scientific careers and scientific subject choices, many science and research institutions and communicators must now engage with popular culture and try to cultivate an image of science and research being cool. Here they are to some degree dependent on popular and mass culture (e.g. Kohlenberger 2015).

However, much has happened in the depiction of science and research in popular culture, in the last couple of decades. Gone are the days when most researchers where depicted as mad scientists, and with societies becoming more and more science-, knowledge- and technology-based the popular depictions of scientists and researchers are becoming more complex and colourful as well, also in terms of gender and sex roles. The great variety of conference presentations also showed that popular culture provides members of the public with a rich reservoir of ideas, topics, images and framings how science and research can be perceived and understood.

The diffusion and success of the internet, social media and digital games will probably also lead to science and research and science communication being increasingly blended and mixed up with various popular and entertainment formats. These are just some reasons why we think that not only STS scholars but researchers from various backgrounds should investigate the interactions between science, research and popular culture more systematically and we hope that our conference made a contribution by sparking a network of interested scholars and researchers, which will hopefully lead to further events and publications addressing this relevant and exciting topic.

For more information on the #POPSCI2015 conference (programme and abstracts):
https://sciencetechnologysociety.wordpress.com

The keynote talks and a collection of conference presentations have been recorded and can be watched online here:
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCiCs9GwxFvm2HulOkQNEDaw

Journal Science and Technology Studies

Science & Technology Studies is an international peer-reviewed journal dedicated to the advancement of scholarly studies of science and technology as socio-material phenomena, including their historical and contemporary production and their associated forms of knowledge, expertise, social organization and controversy. This includes interest in developing Science and Technology Studies’ own knowledge production techniques, methodology and interventions. The journal welcomes all high quality contributions that are based on substantial theoretical or empirical engagement within the multidisciplinary field of science and technology studies, including contributions from anthropology, sociology, history, philosophy, political science, educational science and communication studies. Science & Technology Studies is published four times a year from the beginning of 2016. And the most recent special issues have concerned politics of innovation and energy systems and infrastructures in society, and upcoming special issues include: university society relations; global health; numbers and numbering; and knowledge infrastructures.

Science & Technology Studies is the official journal of the European Association for the Study of Science and Technology (EASST) and the Finnish Association for Science and Technology Studies (FSTS). The journal is open access and available electronically around the world, after a four month embargo on its latest issue, which is available only to subscribers and members of its host organizations.

History

In 2012, Science & Technology Studies was launched as an e-journal (http://www.sciencetechnologystudies.org). It was built on the long running journal Science Studies which was first published in 1988 by the Finnish Society for Science Studies (later re-named as The Finnish Society for Science and Technology Studies). Originally the journal sought to promote a Scandinavian perspective in science and technology studies, but in 1994 it re-oriented itself to become more global. Since 2013, Science & Technology Studies has been the house journal of the European Association for the Study of Science and Technology (EASST).

Science & Technology Studies is published with the help of a grant from the Academy of Finland, subscription fees, and a fee from EASST to off er the journal as its membership benefit journal also to EASST members. The international scope of the journal was reflected in the changes that were made to its editorial board in 2012, which sought to refl ect the global nature of STS. The journal has been headed by five chief editors: Veronica Stolte-Heiskanen (1988- 1989), Marja Häyrinen-Alestalo (1990- 2004), Henrik Bruun (2005-2006), Tarja Knuuttila and Sampsa Hyysalo (2007-2009). The post was then re-designated as that of coordinating editor, and has been then held by Sampsa Hyysalo (2010-2016). Salla Sariola will take over in January 2016. Since its launch over 20 years ago, the journal has expanded its scope to become an important international journal addressing a broad range of interdisciplinary issues in science and technology studies. Today the journal is available in over 700 institutions in more than 80 countries around the world. EASST, FSTS and the journal are non-profit organizations. The journal is currently undergoing a trial period for inclusion in the Social Science Citation Index for an ‘impact factor’.

 

Editor

Antti SilvastAntti Silvast

Dr Antti Silvast is Research Fellow in European Energy Policy and Markets at the University of Edinburgh. Previously, he was postdoctoral researcher in Princeton Universit y’s Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies. His PhD in Sociology is from the University of Helsinki. He has been an editor of Science & Technology Studies since 2014 and a member of the EASST since 2008. He is less known as an amateur programmer and his facility of the assembly syntax of various obsolete microprocessors.

 

 

 

 

 

Estrid Sørensen

Estrid Sørensen

Estrid Sørensen is a Professor of cultural psychology and anthropological knowledge at the Ruhr- University in Bochum, Germany. She did her PhD in Copenhagen on the enactment of materiality and knowledge in educational practices and is currently digging into studies of large-scale international educational assessments and their displacement into non-European cultures. Estrid is also engaged in doing social studies of social psychology along with comparative work on how computer games in diff erent cultural practices come to be enacted as harmful. Estrid did her PhD in psychology and has taught in departments of sociology and social anthropology. She feels most at home in the social anthropology provinces of STS. Estrid has been a member of the EASST Council since 2008. Estrid less known for her home made red current jam and plum butter (though she should be!).

 

 

 

Franc Mali

Franc Mali
Franc Mali is professor of sociology and epistemology of science at Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Ljubljana. He is currently focusing mostly in three research areas: social networks in science, R&D evaluation, social and ethical regulation of new emerging technologies. From 1999 – 2008 he was the board member of The Sociology of Science and Technology Research Network at the European Sociological Association. In seldom free times from academic obligations he likes mountain tours.

 

 

 

 

Jörg Niewöhner

Jörg Niewöhner
Jörg Niewöhner is professor of urban anthropology at the Institute of European Ethnology, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, and deputy director of the Integrative Research Institute THESys (www.iri-thesys.org). He holds a PhD in environmental sciences from the University of East Anglia (UK). His ethnographic research develops the intersections of social anthropology with the life and environmental sciences with a particular focus on the role of markets and infrastructures in transforming social-ecological systems.

 

 

 

Martina Merz

Martina Merz
Martina Merz is a Professor of Science Studies at Alpen-Adria-University Klagenfurt, Wien, Graz, Austria (since 2014) and visiting scholar at TINT Centre of Excellence in mthe Philosophy of the Social Sciences, University of Helsinki, Finland. Her recent research focuses on the local configuration of new research fields, on the scientifi c practice of modeling, simulation, and imaging, and on comparison as an epistemic strategy. She explores interdisciplinary science not only as a study object but also in action, cooperating time and again with social scientists, philosophers, historians, and, occasionally, physicists. In her leisure time she enjoys the challenge of learning languages, even those impossible to master.

 

 

 

 

Salla Sarilla

Salla Sariola
Having worked for 15 years in the UK in departments of anthropology, sociology and bioethics, salla is now a Senior Lecturer at University of Turku, Finland. Salla is also a Senior Research at Ethox Centre, University of Oxford. She has two intertwining research interest on social studies of science, biomedicine and bioethics, and feminist technoscience, gender and sexuality. Most recently she has conducted research on clinical trials in India, Sri Lanka and Kenya and LGBTIQ+ and women’s rights activism around medical research. When in need of a break from academia, she heads to her allotment which she is growing according to permaculture principles.

 

 

Sampsa Hyysalo

Sampsa Hyysalo
Sampsa Hyysalo is associate professor in co-design in Aalto University Helsinki, Finland. He has researched for close to twenty years how new technologies are developed and used, typically studying longitudinally the biography of a technology and related work/everyday practices. His fi rst degree is in cultural history; PhD in cultural psychology, work research and S&TS; docenture in informatics and he has worked also in innovation management and design. With this consistent background his work has topically focused most on new health care technologies, IT systems, media and renewable energy technologies. Less known is that at birth Sampsa probably had a near miss reincarnation as an otter, judging from the constant craving he has for going sailing, kayaking, swimming or surfing.

 

 

 

Torben Elgaard Jensen

Torben Elgaard Jensen
Professor in Techno-anthropology and STS at Aalborg University Copenhagen. His research has engaged with many – probably too many areas of STS – but he is currently focusing two areas: The study of users and innovation, and the use of digital methods in STS. He has been the chairman of the Danish Association of STS for 9 years.

 

 

 

 

Brit WinthereikHelen Verran_portrait

Brit Ross Withereik and Helen Verran; Book review editors

Brit Winthereik and Helen Verran are joint book review editors for Science & Technology Studies. Brit is Associate Professor in the Technologies in Practice Group at IT University of Copenhagen, Helen is Professor II at the Norwegian University of the Arctic at Tromsø and Professorial Fellow at Charles Darwin University in Northern Australia. Being book review editors brings joy when young scholars approach us asking to review books and when books and people are successfully paired. Helen is less known for growing organic bumper garlic crop on a hillside garden. Brit is less known for being lead singer in a woman’s band that keeps striving for rhythm and punctuality.

 

 

 

Louna Hakkarainen

Louna Hakkarainen; Assistant Editor
Louna is a doctoral student in Aalto ARTS in the department of design. In her research she wants to find out how to create better technologies and services by involving users in the development process. Louna’s research focuses on learning between users and developers in collaborative design projects in elderly care and library fi elds. Her background is in social sciences, and she holds a licentiate degree from the University of Helsinki. In her spare time, Louna studies music theory to accomplish her lifelong dream of singing in a choir.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Scope and publications

Science & Technology Studies publishes editorials, research papers, discussion papers and book reviews. Research papers should be no longer than 10,000 words, excluding references.

Research papers

Research papers should present results that are novel and relevant for the community of researchers who study social dimensions of science and technology. Research papers can be empirical, theoretical, methods-oriented, or a mixture of these three categories. Research papers need to be scientifically sound and follow the rules of scientific publication.
Generally this means that…
• the reported research uses methods and empirical material in a way that is accepted by the scientific community
• the argumentation is clear and consistent
• the sources are adequately cited
• the text has not been published before in a refereed publication
• authorship is adequately represented
• the authors have followed relevant legislation and ethical norms in their work

Discussion papers

Discussion papers should raise issues that are somehow new for the community of researchers studying social dimensions of science and technology. Th ey could bring up a new topic, revive an old or neglected topic, argue for a new standpoint, or comment upon recent research in the fi eld. Discussion papers are thus not meant to support one or the other well-known standpoint in a debate, or to discuss a topic that has already been much discussed. Neither should they be reports from conferences or similar events. Discussion papers should follow academic convention when it comes to manner of argumentation and citation, and they should be no longer than 4,000 words, including references.

Book reviews

Science & Technology Studies welcomes reviews that summarize, critically assess, and provide context of topical and important books (or other scientific materials, e.g. CD-ROMs, thematic issues of a journal) in the fi eld of science and technology studies. It should provide an overview of the contents of the book, and an evaluation of its potential contribution to relevant fields of research. A review should not be a chapter-by-chapter description of the book, but rather a presentation of its main themes and arguments and a stimulation of debate on its key issues. Both the strengths and weaknesses of the book should be addressed. Relevant questions to be addressed in the review include: What is the book about? Who should read it? What are the main arguments or conclusions of the author(s)? Why are these new/ surprising/trivial/problematic? How does the work relate to existing discourse within STS?

Editorials

Editorials are written by members of the editorial board or, in the case of special issues, also guest editors. Instructions about the format and contents of an editorial can be received from the assistant editors.