Review of  STS concepts 

1) What is Science and Technology Studies (STS)?

2) History of STS:
a. pre-20th century views: science and tech allows appreciation of God's Glory, violation of God's law, increased profits,
    revolt against church and state, etc. Positivism: science = Truth.

b. post WWI: George Sarton and founding of ISIS

c. Merton: science has normative structure (universalism, communism, disinterestedness, organized scepticism)
                science has reward system (eponomy, honorific prizes, historical priority). Other founders of Social Studies of
                Knowledge (SSK): Fleck, Hessen, Mannheim.

d. Popper: Criterion for scientific status is falsifiability.

e. Kuhn: Science consists of short revolutions between paradigms, followed by "normal science" within a paradigm.
              There is no research without puzzles, but puzzles can be reinterpreted as need for new paradigm.

f. 1960s: Impact policy studies, biased science critique, biased technology critique: eg Mumford, Carlson, Boggs, etc.

g. 1970-80s: Critique of science-as-usual: Science itself as authoritarian power (Merchant, Keller),
                Relativist critique of science (Feyerabend, Collins), Constructivist (Knorr-Cetina, Latour, Bloor). SCOT, ANT.

h. 1990s: Cultural studies approach (interpretation), intervention, . Re-emergence of interest in alternative practice, action
                research, democratic science and technology, local/global knowlege collaboration.


2) Why not just use social solutions for social problems? Why bother with STS?

a. Marxist analysis as a valuable critique of social problems: extraction of surplus value

b. Marxist analysis as a disappointing solution to social problems: engineering disasters in the USSR

c. Social analysis alone is not enough: regardless of the economic system, must take technology design into account

3) How do normative issues (“values,” “ideology”) enter into STS?

a. Technophobe view: technology is inherently evil. (e.g. unibomber)

b. Techno-utopian view: technology is inherently good. (e.g. Walt Disney)

c. Technology is neutral view: “a hammer can be used to murder or to build a house. The technological artifacts themselves are therefore politically neutral.”

d. STS takes a 4th approach – the Social Constructionist view.

4) Examples of the social constructionist view:

a. Classist engineer Robert Moses constructs the bridges on Long Island such that low clearance bridges lead to beaches and parks, preventing poor people from cluttering up his nice areas reserved for the rich. After Moses dies, the bridges are still doing his dirty work – impossible to analyze under the “technology is neutral” view. Artifacts can have politics.

b. Power stations built in 1923 in Berlin show strong centralization, but those in London 1923 show strong decentralization – different “cultural styles.”

c. The first voice recognition software worked better on men than women – not due to an individual’s sexist agency, but do the structural sexism in the institutions.