Talk:Science, technology and society

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It's a Start[edit]

Please expand.Bryan 00:40, 18 November 2005 (UTC) Expanded and edited. 18:21, 1 February 2006 (UTC)

A few questions[edit]

  • The "blind/empty" quote here attributed to Hansen I have previously seen (rather prominently) attributed to Imre Lakatos. Can we double-check this one way or the author?
  • Is Kuhn really the father of mixing history and phil. of sci.? That seems like somewhat of an arbitrary line to draw to me (certainly the work done in the 1930s was a mixture of both history and philosophy of science)?

--Fastfission 02:42, 24 November 2005 (UTC)

  • is ssk a branch of sociology of science, vice-versa, or both the same? capi 05:29, 20 November 2006 (UTC)
ssk is closer to sociology of knowledge, i think.--Buridan 13:19, 20 November 2006 (UTC)
  • i believe the article should introduce quite early that STS may refer to both: Science, technology and society as well as Science and Technology Studies. Any opposition to this proposal? Ingmar.lippert (talk) 22:34, 3 December 2011 (UTC)

STS Wiki[edit]

list of academic programs[edit]

As an article about an academic subject, shouldn't it list at some examples of STS programs? Or at the very least, provide a direct link to such a list? Expecting that readers will navigate away from Wikipedia and onto the STS Wiki is probably unrealistic. Fcendejas 23:03, 15 March 2006 (UTC)

the problem then becomes one of neutrality, are you going to list them all? or only ones you choose? if they are interested in degree programs, i bet they will go to the stswiki. The two that you chose aren't really even of sts. There is a difference between science and technology studies and science and technology in society, with different histories and movements. So until there can be some sort of neutral representation, I suggest we don't need them. --Buridan 00:27, 16 March 2006 (UTC)
I'm the founder, funder, etc., of STS Wiki, and as far as I'm concerned, anything that gets STS information out to the public is a Good Thing. If you visit STS Wiki, though, I think you'll find that there are so many programs that, even if there were just one-line links, you'd add something like 2x - 3x to the length of the page... As for whether it's realistic for people to navigate away from Wikipedia, people with special interests in STS will be motivated to do so. STS Wiki offers all kinds of info that doesn't belong in an encyclopedia - in other words info that wouldn't of interest to the general reader (like what the best textbooks are, etc.) Bryan 22:45, 15 August 2006 (UTC)

Needs work[edit]

Way too many acronyms on this page. I'll take some of them off. Pretty POV in favor of its discipline. I'll remove "vibrants" while keeping "new" and "rapidly growing." -- 21:56, 6 April 2006 (UTC)

Discussion on a withdrawn merge to technology and society[edit]

sinProposal withdrawn: I am proposing that this article be merged with Technology and society. 01:10, 14 August 2006 (UTC) SteveMc 21:07, 15 August 2006 (UTC)

Oppose This article is about the academic discipline itself, not the subject of that discipline. I would not oppose a merge of Technology and Society into this article, but it might be too big for that. Nick 02:16, 14 August 2006 (UTC)
Response: Separating the discipline from the study is like saying the field of civil engineering is separate from the academic discipline of civil engineering. And merging "Technology and Society" into this article is like saying that the academic discipline of civil engineering encompasses civil engineering, when it is vice-versa. Nonetheless, I do agree that the size of this article may be too large to merge into the other, so I am withdrawing my proposal. SteveMc 02:26, 14 August 2006 (UTC)
Oppose sts is broader than technology and society. in fact, technology and society probably needs to be merged into a larger article 'technology studies' which would still be a smaller category than sts. --|Buridan]] 14:20, 15 August 2006 (UTC)
Response: Since User:Buridan wants to maintain this discussion, I will respond: There seems to be a confusion between life and the study of life. In my paradigm of life, facts about life are discovered in its study. As such, science is about the study of life, science is not life. Consider, let's say, plants: it is nonsense to somehow say that biology is plants, when biology is the study of plants (by definition). Would we say that sociology is society? I hope not. Nor would we say that geology is earth, when geology is the study earth. This proposed taxonomy is confusing because it states that the science (study), a man-made activity, is the phenomenon (technology and society), not man-made, under study. Sure I agree that STS includes the study of technology and society (among many other topics). But, STS is only the "study" of that relationship, not the relationship itself. Therefore, life (technology, science, and society) should be at the top of the taxonomy, and the study (STS) therewithin it somewhere. SteveMc 21:01, 15 August 2006 (UTC)

Future of STS[edit]

I removed this paragraph due to it lacking WP:NPOV and seems to be unsourced original research:

STS is now sufficiently well established to have taken on a distinct identity as a field capable of offering an indispensable perspective on science and technology. At the same time, STS has won widespread respect for the rigor and excellence of its scholarship, much of which takes the form of detailed, book length case studies [citation needed]. (The term "studies" in "science and technology studies" reflects the field's preference for high-quality, in-depth, detailed case studies as a fundamental measure of scholarly achievement.) Still, some STS scholars express dissatisfaction with the field's as-yet nascent impact on science and technology practice, and call for closer, more collaborative relationships with scientists and engineers.

Not a dog 20:22, 16 August 2006 (UTC)

what are the benefits derived from technology?

Requested move[edit]

The following discussion is an archived discussion of a requested move. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on the talk page. No further edits should be made to this section.

The result of the move request was: page moved. Vegaswikian (talk) 23:23, 11 October 2011 (UTC)

Science, Technology and SocietyScience, technology and society

The article states at the opening that it's "the study of how social, political, and cultural values affect scientific research and technological innovation, and how these, in turn, affect society, politics and culture." Thus, it's clearly a generic term.

Per WP:CAPS and WP:TITLE: this is a generic, common term, not a propriety or commercial term, so the article title should be downcased. In addition, WP:MOS says that a compound item should not be upper-cased just because it is abbreviated with caps. Matches the formatting of related article titles. Tony (talk) 12:16, 4 October 2011 (UTC)

  • Support - should not be controversial, not a proper noun. (Per WP:CAPSACRS Wikipedia doesn't use capitalization as a help for interpreting acronyms.) Jojalozzo 16:40, 5 October 2011 (UTC)
The above discussion is preserved as an archive of a requested move. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on this talk page. No further edits should be made to this section.

demarcation criteria for journals[edit]

Why student journals are not important? And what makes a non-student journal important? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 13:38, 31 October 2013 (UTC)

Good point! I changed the word "important" to "notable", and added a link to WP:Academic journals' notability guidelines. If a student journal met those criteria, by all means it should be included in the first list. Kind regards, DA Sonnenfeld (talk) 15:24, 31 October 2013 (UTC)

Addition of "Important concepts in STS" section[edit]

Myself and some of my colleagues and students would like to add a section that briefly describes some of the key concepts developed and/or used by STS scholars, with examples specifically relevant to their use in STS scholarship, and links to other Wikipedia main pages on those concepts where appropriate. I'm sure that the list that we generate will not be exhaustive, but it seems like the page would benefit from more information on the content of STS research in addition to information on the field's history, professional journals, etc. Hopefully later editors could contribute to this section as well.

Independebubble (talk) 13:14, 21 April 2015 (UTC)

This is a proposal for the addition of a section relating to the pace of innovation. The proposed section can be found at: Pace of Innovation

--Vbhagwani (talk) 19:11, 21 April 2015 (UTC)

This is a proposal for the addition of a section relating to technocrats, enlightenment thinking and the counter-enlightenment movement. The proposed section can be found at: User:Stsh_blue_6792/sandbox (talk) 19:45, 21 April 2015 (UTC)

This is a proposal for the addition of a section relating to the privileged positions of business and science. The proposed section can be found at: User:Martin75gk/sandbox — Preceding undated comment added 19:50, 21 April 2015 (UTC)

This is a proposal for the addition of a section relating to no innovation without representation. The proposed section can be found at No Innovation Without Representation — Preceding undated comment added 19:55, 21 April 2015 (UTC)

STS Intelligent Trial & Error[edit]

We are students at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute taking a Science, Technology, and Source course. We plan on defining intelligent trial and error using five different strategies that we obtained from the following sources:

[1] Woodhouse, Edward J. Biotechnology and the Political Sociology of Risk. N.p.: Elsevier Science, 1992. Print.

[2] Redner, Harry. An Heretical Heir of the Enlightenment: Politics, Policy, and Science in the Work of Charles E. Lindblom. Boulder: Westview, 1993. Print.

[3] Woodhouse, Edward. "Conceptualizing Disasters as Extreme Versions of Everyday Life." Dynamics of Disaster (2013): 61-76. Web.

[4] Lindblom, Charles Edward. The Policy-making Process. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1968. Print.

[5] Woodhouse, Edward J., and David Collingridge. "Incrementalism, Intelligent Trial-and-Error, and the Future of Political Decision Theory." An Heretical Heir of the Enlightenment: Politics, Policy, and Science in the Work of Charles E. Lindblom. By Harry Redner. Boulder: Westview, 1993. 139-144. Print.

[6] Urbina, Ian. "As OSHA Emphasizes Safety, Long-Term Health Risks Fester." The New York Times. The New York Times, 30 Mar. 2013. Web. Mar. 2015.

STS Gentle Tyranny[edit]

Gentle Tyranny can be furthered understood by reading the following pieces

Kirkman, Robert (2009). "At Home in the Seamless Web". Science, Technology, & Human Values (in English) (Sage Publications) 34 (2): 234–258. 
Ludwik, Fleck (1979). Genesis and Development of a Scientific Fact (in English). University of Chicago Press. 

Legacy Thinking[edit]

We would like to propose the addition of the concept of Legacy Thinking. As a part of our Science, Technology, and Society class at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute we have encountered this term and find it important to an understanding of the way society functions. Based on the following sources, we would like to provide a definition and a few examples of legacy thinking.

"Net Neutrality: A Free and Open Internet." The White House. The White House, 26 Feb. 2015. Web. 21 Apr. 2015.

Corso, Regina, SVP. "PACs, Big Companies, Lobbyists, and Banks and Financial Institutions Seen by Strong Majorities as Having Too Much Power and Influence in DC." Harris Interactive: Harris Polls. Harris Interactive, 29 May 2012. Web. 21 Apr. 2015

Allison, Bill, and Sarah Harkins. "Fixed Fortunes: Biggest Corporate Political Interests Spend Billions, Get Trillions." Sunlight Foundation Blog. Sunlight Foundation, 17 Nov. 2014. Web. 21 Apr. 2015.

Flow. Oscilloscope Pictures, 2008. DVD.

“The National Bureau of Asian Research." India's Water Crisis: Causes and Cures. Web. 21 Apr. 2015. <>. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 2620:0:2820:A0D:B959:13AD:5850:203E (talk) 19:15, 21 April 2015 (UTC)

STS Social Construction[edit]


Social constructions are human created ideas, objects, or events created by a series of choices and interactions.[1] These interactions have consequences that change the perception that different groups of people have on these constructs. Some examples of social construction include gender, class, race, money, and citizenship.

The concept of class is an example of society privileging certain groups over others. According to the What is Social Construction? by Laura Flores,

"Social construction work is critical of the status quo. Social constructionists about X tend to hold that: X need not have existed, or need not be at all as it is. X, or X as it is at present, is not determined by the nature of things; it is not inevitable Very often they go further, and urge that: 2) X is quite as bad as it is. 3) We would be much better off if X were done away with, or at least radically transformed." In the past we have seen that some "knowledge" or "facts" have been disproven as new knowledge comes a long and helps our society be better informed or educated on things that were once not questioned. Such "knowledge" includes the past concept of a correlation between intelligence and the nature of a human's ethnicity or race (X may not be at all as it is).


"Our earlier example of the development of the safety bicycle is of this kind. Another example is variations within the high-wheeler. The high-wheeler's meaning as a virile, high-speed bicycle led to the development of larger front wheels for with a fixed angular velocity one way of getting a higher translational velocity over the ground was by enlarging the radius. But groups of women and of elderly men gave quite another meaning to the high-wheeler. For them, its most important characteristic was its lack of safety:

Owing to the disparity in wheel diameters and the small weight of the backbone and trailing wheel, also to the rider's position practically over the centre of the wheel, if the large front wheel hit a brick or large stone on the road, and the rider was unprepared, the sudden check to the wheel usually threw him over the handlebar. For this reason the machine was regarded as dangerous, and however enthusiastic one may have been about the ordinary- and I was an enthusiastic rider of it once- there is no denying that it was only possible for comparatively young and athletic men." [2]

Another example is the inventory of Bakelite.

Until the mid-nineteenth century, the use of plastics had been confined to luxury and fancy goods, ranging from shellac-lacquered scent boxes to ivory jewelry. The vulcanization of rubber, however, created new markets. During the vulcanization process, rubber is heated in the presence of sulfur, which renders it more flexible and durable. This makes the rubber suitable for a wide range ofapplications. In the second half of the nineteenth century, both rubber and shellac were increasingly used for electrical insulation, especially "hard rubber," also known as "vulcanite" or "ebonite." This rubber was manufactured by mixing a much higher percentage ofsulfur with the crude rubber than was done in the ordinary vulcanization process, and it was used for several new industrial purposes for which none of the older natural plastics had previously been employed. Apart from its use as an electrical insulating material, hard rubber was used for the internal coating ofchemical apparatus and accumulator storages and for the manufacture ofsurgical instruments and artificial teeth. Thus, although plastic materials had previously been restricted to the jewelry-wearing upper classes, they now found favor among new social groups. This, however, created a problem. The exotic location of the sources of shellac and rubber led several chemists and industrialists to perceive an imminent scarcity of natural plastics.

At this meeting Alexander Parkes gave a lecture on his new plastic material Parkesine, which was the first of a series ofvariants produced in an attempt to solve the scarcity problem by trying to modify nitrocellulose (Parkes 1865b). Another important incentive for these researchers was the long- standing objective of nineteenth-century inventors, to find a substitute for ivory (Friedel 1983).

Nitrocellulose could be produced rather cheaply from paper, wood fiber, or rags. Its importance as an explosive substance immediately caught the world's attention when the Swiss chemist Christian Friedrich Schonbein found a commercially viable production process in 1846. The development of a new plastic market for technical applications, besides the traditional market of luxury consumer goods, is exemplified by Parkes's business policy. Parkes placed the early emphasis on its use in the production of fancy articles.

However by 1866, when Parkes tried to persuade investors to put capital into a newly incorporated Parkesine Company, the prospectus hardly mentioned Parkesine as a beautiful material for making "works of art." Instead, its applications for making carding, roving, and spinning rollers, insulating telegraphic wires, manufacturing tubing, and varnishing and coating iron ships were all stressed (Friedell979). Paralleling this shift of emphasis away from the fancy applications, Parkes tried to make his material as cheap as possible (Friedel 1979; Dubois 1972), but this was not enough to maintain the involvement ofthe new social groups of users.

His eagerness to show the applicability of Parkesine to a variety of different purposes meant that he placed less emphasis on finding a dependable chemical formula for at least one specific form of Parkesine. Thus the plastic was not produced with a consistent quality.

Bakelite was the enrollment of two new but increasingly important social groups: the automobile and radio industries. For the radio industry, Bakelite was a good insulating molding material, and, es- pecially for the wireless amateur, it also meant a versatile plate material that could be sawed, drilled, and filed to provide a mounting frame for electrical parts. For the automobile industry Bakelite meant an accurate molding material to produce good electrical insulating parts unaffected by moisture, oil, or other chemicals and able to withstand high temperatures.

This question is not just related to the task of creating a certain chemical substance. The subject is much more complicated, because the objective is to manufacture a product in such a way that it can be used reliably for very specific technical purposes. (Baekeland 1909b, p. 2007) The most important motives to buy Bakelite products were their elegant designs (the material was modern and did not require much maintenance) and their long durability in comparison with porcelain, glass, and clayware. [3]

[refgroup 1]

  1. ^ Woodhouse, Edward (2014). Science Technology and Society (1st ed.). San Diego: University Readers. p. 255. 
  2. ^ Bijker,, Wiebe (1993). The Social Construction of Technological System (1st ed.). Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press. p. 28-45. ISBN 0-262-52137-7. 
  3. ^ Bijker,, Wiebe (1993). The Social Construction of Technological System (1st ed.). Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press. p. 159-190. ISBN 0-262-52137-7. 


Our group has conducted extensive research on the STS concept,“technosocial.” Since there isn't a clear definition on the Science, Technology, and Society Wikipedia page, we propose adding the definition we have developed. In addition, we've compiled examples that relate to our definition, some of which, we would like to add. Additionally, we've formulated many related concepts of technosocial that will help Wikipedia users better understand how “technosocial” fits into the topics of STS.



"Technological action is a social process"[8] Social factors and technology are intertwined so that they are dependent upon each other. This includes the aspect that social, political, and economic factors are inherent in technology and that social structure influences what technologies are pursued. In other words, "technoscientific phenomena combined inextricably with social/political/ economic/psychological phenomena, so ‘technology' includes a spectrum of artifacts, techniques, organizations, and systems."[4] Winner expands on this idea by saying "in the late twentieth century technology and society, technology and culture, technology and politics are by no means separate."[7]

Specific Examples:

Ford Pinto[9]- Ford Motor Company sold and produced the Pinto during the 1970’s. A serious flaw in the automobile design of the rear gas tank of the Ford Pinto caused a fiery explosion upon impact. The exploding fuel tank killed and injured hundreds of people. Internal documents of test results, proved Ford CEO Lee Iacocca and engineers were aware of design flaws. The company decided to ignore improving their technology because of profit-driven motives, strict internal control, and competition from foreign competitors such as Volkswagen. Ford Motor Company conducted a cost-benefit analysis to determine if altering the Ford Pinto model was feasible. An analysis conducted by Ford employees argued against a new design because of increased cost. Employees were also under tight control by the CEO who rushed the Pinto through production lines to increase profits. Ford finally changed are public scrutiny. Safety organizations later influenced this technology by requiring stricter safety standards for motor vehicles.

DDT/Toxins[4] - DDT was a common and highly effective insecticide used during the 1940’s until its ban in the early 1970’s. It was utilized during World War 2 to combat insect-borne human disease that plagued military members and civilian populations. People and companies soon realized other benefits of DDT for agricultural purposes. Rachel Caron and other scientist became worried of wide spread use on public health and the environment. Rachel Carson left an imprint on the industry after she published the controversial book Silent Spring. Her book linked DDT to many serious illness such as cancer. The book drew criticism from chemical companies because they felt their reputation was tarnished. DDT was eventually banned by the United States Environmental Protection Agency after a long and arduous process of research on the chemical. The main cause for the removal of DDT was the public deciding that the benefits any outweighed potential health risk.

Autopilots/Computer Aided Tasks (CATs)[4] Economically the effects of making a task more computer driven are in the favor of the companies because there is less chance for computational error and reaction time required. Due to less error and reaction times the flights using autopilot have been shown to be safer.

Cell Phones[4]- Cell phone technology emerged in the early 1920’s after advancements were made in radio technology. Engineers at Bell Laboratories, the research and development division of AT&T discovered that cell towers can transmit and receive signals to and from many directions. The discovery by Bell Labs revolutionized the capabilities and outcomes of cellular technology. Technology only improved once mobile phone users could communicate outside of a designated area. First generation mobile phones were first created and sold by Motorola. Their phone was only intended for use in cars. Second generation mobile phone capabilities continued to improve because of the switch to digital. Phones were faster which enhanced communication capabilities of customers. They were also sleeker and weighed less than bulky first generation technology. Technologically advances boosted customer satisfaction and broadened cell phone companies customer base. Third generation technology changed the way people interact with other. Now customers had access to wifi, texting and other applications. Mobile phones are now entering into the fourth generations. Cellular and mobile phones revolutionized the way people socialize and communicate in order to establish modern social structure . People have affected the development of this technology by demanding features such as larger screens, touch capabilities, and internet accessibility.

Internet[4]- The internet arose because of extensive research on ARPANET between various university, corporations, and ARPA (Advanced Research Project Agency), an agency of the Department of Defense. Scientist theorized a network of computers connected to each other. Computing capabilities contributed to developments and the creation of the modern day computer or laptop . The internet has become a normal part of life and business, to such a degree that the united nations views it as a basic human right. The internet is becoming larger, one way is that more things are being moved into the digital world due to demand, for example online banking. It has drastically changed the way most people go about daily habits.

Subsets of Technosocial: Technoscience[4]-The perception that science and technology are intertwined and depend on each other. Technosociety[1]- An industrially developed society with a reliance on technology. Technological utopianism[2]- A positive outlook on the effect technology has on social welfare. Includes the perception that technology will one day enable society to reach a utopian state. Technosocial Systems[3]-Technosocial Systems are people and technologies that combine to work as heterogeneous but functional wholes.

Classifications of Technosocial:

Technological Optimism[5] - The opinion that technology has positive effects on society and should be used in order to improve the welfare of people. Technological Pessimism[5]- The opinion that technology has negative effects on society and should be discouraged from use. Technological Neutrality[3] -"maintains that a given technology has no systematic effects on society: individuals are perceived as ultimately responsible, for better or worse, because technologies are merely tools people use for their own ends." Technological Determinism [3]- “maintains that technologies are understood as simply and directly causing particular societal outcomes." Scientism[6] - The belief in the total separation of facts and values Technological Progressivism[6] - technology is a means to an end itself and an inherently positive pursuit


[1] Technosociety dictionary definition | technosociety defined. (n.d.). Retrieved March 20, 2015, from

[2] Technological utopianism. (2015, March 18). Retrieved March 20, 2015, from

[3] "Design by Society: Science and Technology Studies and the Social Shaping of Design", Edward Woodhouse and Jason W. Patton, Design Issues, Volume 20, Number 3 Summer 2004.

[4] Woodhouse, E. (2013). In The Future of Technological Civilization (Revised ed., pp. 1-258).

[5] Hochschild, J., Crabill, A., & Sen, M. (2012, December 1). Technology Optimism or Pessimism: How Trust in Science Shapes Policy Attitudes toward Genomic Science. Retrieved March 20, 2015, from

[6] Kleinman, D. (2005). Science is Political/Technology is Social: Concerns, Concepts, and Questions. Maryland: Blackwell.

[7] Winner, L. (1993). Artifacts/Ideas and Political Culture (pp. 283-292). Troy, New York: Rensselaer.

[8] Goldman, S. (1992). No Innovation Without Representation (pp. 148-160). Troy, New York: Rensselaer.

[9] Dowie, M. (1977, October 1). Pinto Madness. Retrieved February 4, 2015, from

Lyles, D. (2014, May 2). Cultivating Optimism. Retrieved March 20, 2015, from

A classic critique of techno-optimism. (n.d.). Retrieved March 20, 2015, from

Hello student editors (please read)[edit]

I noticed several of you are copy/pasting sources into the talk page. This is a big copyright problem, even if you cite the source. Please remove any big blocks of copy/pasted material and be sure everything is cited. It's not as strict as it is in the article, but copyright applies to every page on Wikipedia. If you do not remove it, I or someone else will have to.

Also, there are a lot of resources available to help student editors. I work for the Wiki Education Foundation and would like very much to be able to contact your professor. Could you either direct him/her to email (ryan [at] wikiedu [dot] org) or give me a name/institution to look up? Thanks. --Ryan (Wiki Ed) (talk) 13:10, 23 April 2015 (UTC)
Cite error: There are <ref group=refgroup> tags on this page, but the references will not show without a {{reflist|group=refgroup}} template (see the help page).