Friday, March 20, 2009


It's tough to teach yourself a new discipline, almost from scratch. Intro texts are obviously a good place to start. I'm looking for broad overviews of science studies that I can read to see where I want to latch on.

The book by Hess (1997) was reasonably well done. I got the sense that he wasn't sufficiently probing some of the more controversial issues but was just sort of dismissing positions out of hand if they didn't agree with his centrist positions on knowledge and truth.

The author is in the STS department at RPI. The interesting thing is that they seem to have an interest in applying the insights from science studies to actual issues. So, there was a very clear thread of activism woven throughout the book. Hess is very obviously profeminist and antiracist, and this came out in the work in a very good way. There was even a mention of environmental justice issues. This is kind of a refreshing change from Latour's "follow the actors" approach (which I still enjoy, and think could be usefully applied to activism-research), since rather than being inside the network (in a laboratory study, e.g.) you look over the shoulders of the actors to see the bigger picture.

I liked that the politicization of the analysis was viewed as an end to be achieved, rather than disparaged as somehow unworthy of study. Even though my department is receptive, it's nice to have your high level goals reaffirmed every now and then.

Hess, D.J. (1997). Science Studies: An Advanced Introduction. New York University Press: New York, NY.

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