Classic Themes and Debates in Science and Technology Studies (Syllabus)

From SweSTS

7,5 ECTS Reading Course with the essay or 5 ECTS Reading course without the essay

A reading course for PhD students. Fall 2020, Chalmers University of Technology.

Main instructor: Francis Lee

Course Objective[edit]

The course gives an introduction of theories and approaches that are central for researching the interplay between science and technology. This course in Science and Technology Studies (STS) include central areas such as SSK, SCOT, ANT, Sociotechnical systems, and Feminist STS. In addition to reading and discussing key texts, the course participants will also be familiarized with the criticism and debate surrounding key theoretical positions of the field.


The examination consists of the following components:

  • Active participation in all course sessions.
  • Submission of a short seminar document (1 page about the literature and a few questions) before each seminar, providing brief reflections on or posing questions for the seminar in question. It must be submitted by e-mail to the seminar participants no later than the day before the seminar.
  • Responsibility for preparing an oral “text introduction” together with a fellow PhD candidate (introduction max 15 minutes and then discussion). The text introduction must problematise the texts for the current seminar in a manner freely chosen by the candidates. (Division of responsibilities occurs at session 1.)
  • Submission of a relatively short course essay (roughly five pages) in which one theme related to the theoretical perspectives addressed in the course is discussed.


Workload for: Intro to STS 2020
This is a 7,5 credits Course , so it should take 200 hours of preparation.
Total pages to be read: 967 pp, at ca. 7 pages/hr = 138 hours
We estimate activities and contact hours will cost you a total of 60 hours
Total = 198 hours

Literature: Getting it. Reading it.[edit]

  • All texts are listed in suggested reading order.
Seminar 1: What is STS? A few overviews of the field[edit]

Sismondo, Sergio. 2008. “Science and Technology Studies and an Engaged Program.” In The Handbook of Science and Technology Studies, edited by Edward J. Hackett, Olga Amsterdamska, Michael Lynch, and Judy Wajcman, 13–31. Boston, MA: MIT Press.

Hess, David J. 1997. Science Studies: An Advanced Introduction. NYU Press. Ch 1.

Kleinman, Daniel Lee. 2005. Science and Technology in Society: From Biotechnology to the Internet. Key Themes in Sociology. Malden, MA: Blackwell. Ch 1.

Sismondo, Sergio. 2010. An Introduction to Science and Technology Studies. 2nd ed. Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell. Ch 1, 2.

Seminar 2: Some prehistories of STS[edit]

Sismondo, Sergio. 2010. An Introduction to Science and Technology Studies. 2nd ed. Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell. Ch 3.

Kuhn, Thomas S. 1970. The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. 2nd ed., enlarged. Chicago, Ill: Chicago UP. Ch. 1.

Popper, Karl. 1998. “Science: Conjectures and Refutations.” In Philosophy of Science: The Central Issues, edited by Jan A. Cover and Martin Curd, 3–9. New York & Lonodon: W. W. Norton & Company.

Feyerabend, P. K. 1970. “Consolations for the Specialist.” In Criticism and the Growth of Knowledge, edited by Alan Musgrave and Imre Lakatos, 4:197–230. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Merton, Robert K. 1973. “The Normative Structure of Science.” In The Sociology of Science: Theoretical and Empirical Investigations, 267–78. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.

Mulkay, Michael J. 1976. “Norms and Ideology in Science.” Social Science Information 15 (4–5): 637–56.

Seminar 3: Sociology of Scientific Knowledge[edit]

Collins, Harry M. 2017. “The Sociology of Science for Non-Sociologists – Harry Collins.” March 19, 2017.

Sismondo, Sergio. 2010. An Introduction to Science and Technology Studies. 2nd ed. Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell. Ch 6.

Bloor, David. 1991. Knowledge and Social Imagery. University of Chicago Press. Ch. 1.

Collins, H. M. 1981. “Son of Seven Sexes: The Social Destruction of a Physical Phenomenon.” Social Studies of Science 11 (1): 33–62.

Collins, Harry M., and Trevor Pinch. 1998. The Golem: What You Should Know about Science. Cambridge University Press. Ch. 5.

Optional Reading[edit]

Barnes, Barry, and David Bloor. 1982. “Relativism, Rationalism and the Sociology of Knowledge.” In Rationality and Relativism, edited by Martin Hollis and Steven Lukes, 21–47. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Collins, H. M. 1974. “The TEA Set: Tacit Knowledge and Scientific Networks.” Science Studies 4 (2): 165–85.

Seminar 4: Technology studies and technological determinism[edit]

Winner, Langdon. 1980. “Do Artifacts Have Politics?” Daedaleus 109 (1): 121–36.

Sismondo, Sergio. 2010. An Introduction to Science and Technology Studies. 2nd ed. Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell. Ch 9.

Hughes, Thomas P. 1987. “The Evolution of Large Technological Systems.” In The Social Construction of Technological Systems: New Directions in the Sociology and History of Technology, edited by Wiebe E. Bijker, Thomas P. Hughes, and Trevor J. Pinch, 51–82. MIT Press.

Pinch, Trevor J., and Wiebe E. Bijker. 1987. “The Social Construction of Facts and Artifacts: Or How the Sociology of Science and the Sociology of Technology Might Benefit from Each Other.” In The Social Construction of Technological Systems: New Directions in the History of Technology, edited by Thomas P. Hughes, Trevor J. Pinch, and Wiebe E. Bijker, 17–50. Cambridge, MA: Cambridge UP.

Mackenzie, Donald. 1999. “Nuclear Missile Testing and the Social Construction of Accuracy.” In The Science Studies Reader, edited by Mario Biagioli, 342–57. New York and London: Routledge.

Optional Reading[edit]

Leo Marx, and Merrit Roe Smith. 1994. “Introduction.” In Does Technology Drive History? The Dilemma of Technological Determinism, I–XV. Cambridge, MA.: MIT Press.

Smith, Merrit Roe. 1994. “Technological Determinism in American Culture.” In Does Technology Drive History? The Dilemma of Technological Determinism, edited by Merrit Roe Smith and Leo Marx, 1–35. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Woolgar, Steve, and Geoff Cooper. 1999. “Do Artefacts Have Ambivalence? Moses’ Bridges, Winner’s Bridges and Other Urban Legends in S&TS.” Social Studies of Science 29 (3): 433–49.

Laet, Marianne de, and Annemarie Mol. 2000. “The Zimbabwe Bush Pump.” Social Studies of Science 30 (2): 225–63.

Rappert, Brian. 2001. “The Distribution and Resolution of the Ambiguities of Technology, or Why Bobby Can’t Spray.” Social Studies of Science 31 (4): 557–91.

Seminar 5: Feminist STS[edit]

Faulkner, Wendy. 2001. “The Technology Question in Feminism: A View from Feminist Technology Studies.” Women’s Studies International Forum 24 (1): 79–95.

Sismondo, Sergio. 2010. An Introduction to Science and Technology Studies. 2nd ed. Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell. Ch 7.

Cowan, Ruth Schwartz. 1976. “The ‘Industrial Revolution’ in the Home: Household Technology and Social Change in the 20th Century.” Technology and Culture 17 (1): 1–23.

Cockburn, Cynthia. 1981. “The Material of Male Power.” Feminist Review, no. 9: 41–58.

Haraway, Donna J. 1991. “A Cyborg Manifesto: Science, Technology, and Socialist-Feminism in the Late Twentieth Century.” In Simians, Cyborgs, and Women: The Reinvention of Nature, 149–81. New York: Routledge.

Optional Reading[edit]

Oudshoorn, Nelly. 1994. Beyond the Natural Body: An Archeology of Sex Hormones. London: Routledge.

Martin, Emily. 1991. “The Egg and the Sperm: How Science Has Constructed a Romance Based on Stereotypical Male-Female Roles.” Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society 16 (3): 485–501.

Kline, Ronald, and Trevor Pinch. 1996. “Users as Agents of Technological Change: The Social Construction of the Automobile in the Rural United States.” Technology and Culture 37 (4): 763–95.

Seminar 6: Laboratory Ethnographies[edit]

Knorr Cetina, Karin. 1995. “Laboratory Studies: The Cultural Approach to the Study of Science.” In Handbook of Science and Technology Studies, 140–66. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.

Traweek, Sharon. 1988. Beamtimes and Lifetimes: The World of High Energy Physicists. Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP. Prologue & Ch. 1.

Latour, Bruno. 1987. “Give Me a Laboratory and I Will Raise the World.” In Science Observed: Perspectives on the Social Study of Science, edited by Karin Knorr-Cetina and Michael Mulkay, 141–70. London: SAGE.

Seminar 6.5: Laboratory Ethnography, Empirical Examples[edit]

Amann, K., and K. Knorr Cetina. “The Fixation of (Visual) Evidence.” Human Studies 11, no. 2 (April 1, 1988): 133–69.

Law, John, and Michael Lynch. “Lists, Field Guides, and the Descriptive Organization of Seeing: Birdwatching as an Exemplary Observational Activity.” Human Studies 11, no. 2–3 (1988): 271–303.

Lynch, Michael. “The Externalized Retina: Selection and Mathematization in the Visual Documentation of Objects in the Life Sciences.” Human Studies 11, no. 2–3 (1988).

Seminar 7: Actor-Network Theory[edit]

Latour, Bruno. 2005. Reassembling the Social: An Introduction to Actor-Network-Theory. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ”Introduction”

Callon, Michel. 1986. “Some Elements of a Sociology of Translation: Domestication of the Scallops and the Fishermen of St Brieuc Bay.” In Power, Action and Belief: A New Sociology of Knowledge, edited by John Law, 196–233. London: Routledge.

Latour, Bruno. 1987. Science in Action. Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP. Ch. ”Introduction” & ”Laboratories”

Optional Reading[edit]

Akrich, Madeleine. 1992. “The De-Scription of Technical Objects.” In Shaping Technology Building Society: Studies in Sociotechnical Change, edited by Wiebe E. Bijker and John Law, 205–24. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Latour, B. (1995). The “Pédofil” of Boa Vista. Common Knowlege, 4(1), 144–187.

Galis, V., & Lee, F. (2014). A Sociology of Treason: The Construction of Weakness. Science, Technology, & Human Values, 39(1), 154-179.

Star, S. L. (1991). Power, Technologies and the Phenomenology of Conventions: on being allergic to onions. In J. Law (Ed.), A sociology of Monsters: Essays on Power, Technology and Domination (pp. 26-56). London: Routledge.

Seminar 8: Debates about ANT & agency[edit]

Collins, Harry M., and Steven Yearley. 1992. “Epistemological Chicken.” In Science as Practice and Culture, edited by Andrew Pickering, 301–26. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press.

Callon, Michel, and Bruno Latour. 1992. “Don’t Throw the Baby Out with the Bath School! A Reply to Collins and Yearley.” In Science as Practice and Culture, edited by Andrew Pickering, 343–68. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press.

Ashmore, M. (1993). Behaviour modification of a catflap: A contribution to the sociology of things. Kennis en methode, 17(2), 214-229.

Callon, M., & Law, J. (1995). Agency and the Hybrid Collectif. South Atlantic Quarterly, 94(2), 481-507.

Seminar 9: Multiple epistemologies and ontologies[edit]

Harding, Sandra G. 1986. The Science Question in Feminism. Ithaca: Cornell University Press. Chapter 10 ”Valuable Tensions and a ‘New Unity of Science’ ”

Haraway, Donna. 1988. “Situated Knowledges: The Science Question in Feminism and the Privilege of Partial Perspective.” Feminist Studies 14 (3): 575–99.

Mol, Annemarie. 1999. “Ontological Politics: A Word and Some Questions.” In Actor-Network Theory and After, edited by John Law and John Hassard, 74–89. Oxford: Blackwell.

Lynch, Michael. 2013. “Ontography: Investigating the Production of Things, Deflating Ontology.” Social Studies of Science 43 (3): 444–62.

Optional Reading[edit]

Jensen, Casper Bruun, Andrea Ballestero, Marisol de la Cadena, Michael Fisch, and Miho Ishii. n.d. “New Ontologies? Reflections on Some Recent ‘Turns’ in STS, Anthropology and Philosophy.” Social Anthropology 25 (4): 525.

Mol, A. 2002. The body multiple; ontology in medical practice. Durham, Duke University Press.

Woolgar, Steve, and Javier Lezaun. 2013. “The Wrong Bin Bag: A Turn to Ontology in Science and Technology Studies?” Social Studies of Science 43 (3): 321–40.

Debate in Social Studies of Science 2014 and 2015 on the special issue on ontology (commentaries by Aspers, Sismondo, Vasileva, and Woolgar & Lezaun).

Harding, Sandra. 1991. “Feminist Standpoint Epistemology.” In The Gender and Science Reader, edited by Ingrid Bartsch and Muriel Lederman, 145–68. London: Routledge.

Seminar 10: Infrastructures and Classification[edit]

Star, Susan Leigh. 1990. “Power, Technology and the Phenomenology of Conventions: On Being Allergic to Onions.” The Sociological Review 38 (1 Supplement): 26–56.

Hacking, Ian. 1999. “Making up People.” In The Science Studies Reader, edited by Mario Biagioli, 161–71. New York: Routledge.

Bowker, G. C., & Star, S. L. (1999). Introduction: To classify is human. In Sorting things out: Classification and its consequences (pp. 1-32). Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.

Star, Susan Leigh. 1999. “The Ethnography of Infrastructure.” American Behavioral Scientist 43 (3): 377–91.

Optional Reading[edit]

Larkin, Brian. 2013. “The Politics and Poetics of Infrastructure.” Annual Review of Anthropology 42 (1): 327–43.

Star, Susan Leigh. 2002. “Got Infrastructure? How Standards, Categories, and Other Aspects of Infrastructure Influence Communication.” In 2nd Social Study of IT Workshop at the LSE ICT and Globalization, 22–23.

Fausto-Sterling, Anne. 1995. “Gender, Race, and Nation: The Comparative Anatomy of ‘Hottentot’ Women in Europe, 1815-1817.” In Deviant Bodies: Critical Perspectives on Difference in Science and Popular Culture, edited by Jennifer Terry and Jacqueline Urla, 19–48. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

Thomas Parke Hughes, “The Evolution of Large Technological Systems,” in W. Bijker, T. P. Hughes, and T. Pinch, eds., The Social Construction of Technological Systems (MIT Press, 1987), pp. 51-82

Lawrence Busch, Standards: Recipes for Reality, Chapters 1 and 2 (required), Introduction (optional).

David Weinberger, Too Big to Know: Rethinking Knowledge Now That the Facts Aren’t the Facts, Experts Are Everywhere, and the Smartest Person in the Room is the Room (Basic Books, 2012)

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