Experimentation in the sociology of science: Representational and generative registers in the imitation game
Publicaties Publicatie Waves, Owls and Boundaries: How to Think About Science and Democracy in the ‘Post-Truth’-Era? bewerken titel publicatieWaves, Owls and Boundaries: How to Think About Science and Democracy in the ‘Post-Truth’-Era? publicatiedatum2 nov. 2018 omschrijving publicatieScience As Culture omschrijving publicatieThe selection of ‘post-truth’ as word of the year by Oxford dictionaries could be characterized as the apex of growing unease over a series of developments, including blatant lies and dishonesty in public debate, reports on ‘fake news’ and loss of trust in traditional media and experts. Although diagnoses might differ, the general perception amongst most commentators is that we are in a state of crisis. The ‘post-truth’ label functions as a catalyst sparking intense public and academic debates about the relation between science and democracy. In this current situation characterized by a general climate of scepticism towards experts, Science and Technology Studies (STS) finds itself in an ongoing discussion about some of its common themes: epistemic democratization; the co-development of political/normative and epistemic claims, and a critical attitude towards the norms and judgments embedded in seemingly neutral instruments of science and technology. It is in the midst of these somewhat overheated arguments that Harry Collins and Robert Evans’ (2017) recent book Why Democracies Need Science can be situated. In this essay, I critically engage with three related aspects of the book: its general starting premise, the problem construction that follows from this and the solution the authors identify. I argue that, although the political and academic questions the post-truth debate provokes are highly relevant for STS and Why Democracies Need Science offers a particular pathway out, STS has many other contributions to make in explaining and helping us deal with ‘post-truth’-challenges. Publicatie Waves, Owls and Boundaries: How to Think About Science and Democracy in the ‘Post-Truth’-Era? weergevenPublicatie weergeven Publicatie Experimentation in the sociology of science: Representational and generative registers in the imitation game bewerken titel publicatieExperimentation in the sociology of science: Representational and generative registers in the imitation game publicatiedatum20 okt 2018 omschrijving publicatieStudies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A omschrijving publicatieAlthough the ‘experiment’ has been a central topic in the history and sociology of science, experimental research has been rarer in this discipline. Such experimental research – in which the experiment is viewed not as the object of analysis, but as a particular mode of social-scientific knowledge production – is currently gaining momentum in STS. Where these forms of experimentation primarily focus on the singular or the unique, and broader lessons to be drawn become identified through the empirical details of the various experiments, another experimental approach originating in the sociology of science is taken by Harry Collins and Rob Evans. Their large-scale attempt to establish the experimental research program of the ‘imitation game’ aims to systematize in a more top-down sense by producing cross-cultural and cross-temporal comparisons between different societies and communities. The experiments, including the underlying theoretical framework, have been the focus of much debate. The point of this article is not to rehash these debates. Rather, this article arises out of the concern that the current way in which the imitation game experiments are discussed overemphasizes precisely their most problematic aspects, while neglecting their most promising aspects. I will argue that the debate is currently framed from a ‘representational register’ building on particular ideas about ‘proper’ experiments and the kinds of knowledge produced. Through an empirical exploration of a range of imitation game experiments conducted in various health care contexts, I outline an alternative ‘generative register for making sense of the usefulness of these experiments and the kinds of knowledge they produce for different actors. In the discussion, I reflect on the broader lessons that can be drawn from these studies about generative experiments in the sociology of science.
|Persistent URL||dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.shpsa.2018.10.003, hdl.handle.net/1765/112566|
|Journal||Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A|
Wehrens, R.L.E. (2018). Experimentation in the sociology of science: Representational and generative registers in the imitation game. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A. doi:10.1016/j.shpsa.2018.10.003