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Science Studies

An Advanced Introduction

David Hess

Publication Year: 1997

Thrust into the public eye by the contentious "Science Wars"--played out most recently by physicist Alan Sokal's hoax--the nascent field of science studies takes on the political, historical, and cultural dimensions of technology and the sciences.

Science Studies is the first comprehensive survey of the field, combining a concise overview of key concepts with an original and integrated framework. In the process of bringing disparate fields together under one tent, David J. Hess realizes the full promise of science studies, long uncomfortably squeezed into traditional disciplines. He provides a clear discussion of the issues and misunderstandings that have arisen in these interdisciplinary conversations. His survey is up-to-date and includes recent developments in philosophy, sociology, anthropology, history, cultural studies, and feminist studies.

By moving from the discipline-bound blinders of a sociology, history, philosophy, or anthropology of science to a transdisciplinary field, science studies, Hess argues, will be able to provide crucial conceptual tools for public discussions about the role of science and technology in a democratic society.

Published by: NYU Press


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p. v

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p. vii

I would like to thank Steve Fuller, Ed Hackett, Lowen Hargens, Brian Martin, Sal Restivo, and students at Rensselaer and the Universidade Federal Flurninense for comments on various parts of earlier drafts of the book, and Eric Zinner for his editorial help in shaping the final version of...

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1. Introduction

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pp. 1-5

Scientific experts frequently square off on the evening news. At work, professional discourses have become increasingly technical, and at home we face an ocean of competing claims about topics such as carcinogens in our food or the technical features of competing...

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2. The Philosophy of Science: An Interdisciplinary Perspective

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pp. 6-51

Although STS or science studies is becoming an increasingly interdisciplinary conversation, there is still a gulf of understanding among the different constituent disciplines, especially between the philosophical and social studies wings. I use the term "social studies" to include historians, cultural studies researchers, and social scientists. Following the American usage...

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3. The Institutional Sociology of Science

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pp. 52-80

Social scientists who redeveloped the sociology of scientific knowledge (SSK) in the 1970S and 1980s did so in opposition to two other, more established fields: the philosophy of science and the "sociology of science" (or, perhaps more accurately, the institutional sociology of science). From the perspective of the SSK researchers, the institutional...

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4. Social Studies of Knowledge

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pp. 81-111

The sociology of scientific knowledge (SSK, sometimes also called social studies of knowledge or the new sociology of science) focuses on the content of science. "Content" refers to theories, methods, design choices, and other technical aspects of science and technology, in contrast with institutional or contextual aspects such as those reviewed in the previous...

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5. Critical and Cultural Studies of Science and Technology

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pp. 112-147

Cultural studies is an interdisciplinary conversation that, like STS, defies easy definition. In Britain cultural studies was historically associated with the Birmingham Centre for Cultural Studies. The key features of British cultural studies include (1) theoretical frameworks that first drew on Western Marxism (such as Gramsci) and semiotics, followed by feminism...

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6. Conclusions

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pp. 148-156

What good is science studies, technology studies, or STS as a whole? What is the value of all the terms, concepts, schools, and frameworks? In today's academy, this question has sinister undertones, particularly when it is asked in the context of science wars and budget cuts. All disciplines...

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For Additional Information

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pp. 157-159

For those interested in the attacks on STS known as the "science wars," a good place to start is issue 46-47 of Social Text (1996, vol. 14, nos. 1 and 2), which itself became part of the controversy. For an introduction to the philosophy of science, I have found Fuller (1993a), Hacking (1983), and Kourany's reader (1987) to be the most useful, and Idhe


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pp. 161-166


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pp. 167-192


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pp. 193-196

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About the Author

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p. 197

David J. Hess is an anthropologist and tenured professor in the Science and Technology Studies Department at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. He is the author of various books in anthropology and science studies, including Spirits and Scientists: Ideology, Spiritism, and Brazilian Culture; Samba in the Night: Spiritism in Brazil; Science in the New Age: The...

E-ISBN-13: 9780814790953
E-ISBN-10: 081479095X
Print-ISBN-13: 9780814735633
Print-ISBN-10: 0814735630

Page Count: 448
Publication Year: 1997

OCLC Number: 45733205
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Science Studies

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Subject Headings

  • Science -- Philosophy.
  • Science -- Social aspects.
  • Technology -- Social aspects.
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