Talk:Science studies

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This article is very short, and hardly describes anything about how science as a social enterprise works. It's at least got to start with peer review, and should cover how explicit knowledge and tacit knowledge about techniques are dispersed throughout the community, the incentives to do science (economics, the reputation system, the tenure carrot), standards for behavior (and examples of violations), the peculiarly open nature of the enterprise, and its relationship to other social system, like government, the economy, and culture. -- Beland 02:52, 24 Feb 2005 (UTC)

Should the article be about Science studies as a subject/discipline/approach or about one particular set of conclusions about how science works? I think the former—I don't think you'll ever come up with a model of "how science as a social enterprise works" that will really be representative of the gamut of even the most popular scholars on the subject. Additionally, it looks like you are just describing 20th century scientific enterprise at best. And Latour at the very least would object to any categorization which contains "economy," "government" and "culture" as entities independent from themselves, much less science! ;) --Fastfission 02:49, 25 Feb 2005 (UTC)
I vote for a description of "science studies" as a research area; you'd need a book to do what Beland suggests--it's a good suggestion, but Ziman has already done it! Bryan 00:00, 18 November 2005 (UTC)

I agree with Fastfission about the focus of the article. But Beland is right to point out that the survey of the object science studies (i.e. science) is very thin. Can the technology studies stuff be moved to its own entry, which could then be linked to? The subdisciplines of STS could also get their own entries. Things that are POV from the POV of STS, may be wholly objective from within, say, ANT, social epistemology, SSK, etc. The fact that these fields are part of STS, however, seems to be beyond dispute. As would be a history of STS as an "open site" for various approaches to the study (descriptive, empirical) and policing (prescriptive, normative) of research. An important turning point here is the status of Kuhn and Foucault in the late 60s, which seemed also to mark a convergence of concerns derives from Phil og Sci, Hist of Sci, Soc. of Sci Know, etc. In any case, the dominance of technology in the article is a bit odd. I'm new here so I don't know how one goes about moving a big chunk of text like that into its own article or how one makes the decision to do so. But I'm looking forward to getting to work on this. (I'm going to be working more or less simultaneously on the social epistemology entry.)--Peloria 10:31, 1 Jun 2005 (UTC)


I haven't looked at this article for awhile and now it has gigantic Excel images pasted in. I'm not sure I understand what they have to do with science studies or even technology studies. I am thinking that, if they belong somewhere, they don't belong in this article, which is on an academic discipline. Anybody else have thoughts on this? --Fastfission 04:37, 4 Jun 2005 (UTC)

Agreed. An article on "Science Studies" should not have such a strong emphasis on "communication mediums and data storage mediums" - looks like someone pasted their school project or something.--mtz206 14:23, Jun 5, 2005 (UTC)
I agree also. I've removed the passages and images and brought the article into sharper focus. Hope you like it.--Peloria 22:04, 5 Jun 2005 (UTC)

Some changes[edit]

I've tried to be a little more specific about SS's interdisciplinary history, making it clear that SS emerges from SSK (among other things) rather than SSK being a subfield within SS. This also allowed me to free the names of Kuhn and Foucault from any direct association with these large background contexts, respecting their canonical status in many different fields. I'll be re-reading the whole entry and fixing the sentences as I add things over the next few weeks.--Peloria 05:52, 6 Jun 2005 (UTC)


The article is full of nonsense and needs to be cleaned up. Sample pompous nonsense : "Science studies is best understood as a moment in a steadily widening conversation, in which scholars with interests in the social, historical, and philosophical analysis of science and technology have achieved a succession of wider integrations." —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 04:13, 19 July 2008 (UTC)

Agreed. It borders on intellectual imposturing. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 00:49, 4 November 2009 (UTC)

Science and technology studies, not Science studies[edit]

I'd like to hear from contributors about changing the name of this article. I believe science and technology studies (STS) is a more inclusive and more accurate name than science studies, for the following reasons:

1. There is a thriving multidisciplinary research area that self-identifies itself as science and technology studies (Janasoff et al., 2001). Doctoral programs that specifically use the phrase "science and technology studies" to describe the degree are offered at Cornell Univ., Georgia Institute of Technology, Gothenburg Univ. (Sweden), Lancaster Univ. (UK), Virginia Polytechnic Institute, University College (London), and several other institutions. Roughly 25 universities offer bachelor's degrees using this nomenclature (the most up-to-date [list of STS programs] is maintained by the University of Virginia's Department of Science, Technology, and Society).

2. The term "science studies" is sometimes used inclusively to refer to STS, particularly in U.K. (see, e.g., [Centre for Science Studies, Lancaster University], but the term "science studies" is more closely associated with the sociology of scientific knowledge (SSK). There are numerous science studies departments that place little or no emphasis on the study of technology, despite the growing evidence that the two are so closely intertwined that they cannot be studied in isolation (see, e.g., Latour 1989).

3. STS programs and organizations (such as the Society for Social Studies of Science, or 4S) view STS as an umbrella term, one that encompasses a variety of subdisciplines, including the following (minimally): sociology of scientific knowledge (SSK), sociology and anthropology of science and technology, science and engineering ethics, science and engineering policy, history of science, history of technology, and philosophy of science and technology. STS departments reflect this heterogeneity, yet their faculty generally self-identify as STS scholars.

4. The most prominent professional organization in STS, Society for Social Studies of Science, stresses the following on its Web site: "Society for Social Studies of Science is the oldest and largest scholarly association devoted to understanding science and technology. While as many of us [now] study technology as science, we continue to use our original name" (see [About the Society].

To sum up:

1. Remove the redirect from the science and technology studies page and move the pertinent sections of this article there. 2. This page should portray science studies as part of STS, and link to SSK.

Bryan 13:04, 9 October 2005 (UTC)


Jasanoff, Shiela, James C Petersen, Trevor Pinch, Gerald E Markle, 2001. Handbook of Science and Technology Studies. Sage Publications.

Latour, Bruno. 1989. La science en action. Paris: Editions La Decouverte

  • Well, the real question is whether or not STS (either as Science Technology and Society or Science and Technology Studies) and Science Studies are different and if so in what way. I have always considered Science Studies to be the bigger umbrella term over STS, and in the U.S. at least it would not be considered the same thing as SSK strictly speaking. Hmm. It's also a hard question because some of the people and groups you've cited have been involved in major disputes about the nomenclature of the field (Jasanoff and 4S, for example). --Fastfission 14:59, 9 October 2005 (UTC)
    • ontologically, sts is the larger field, as it encompasses both science studies and technology studies. however sts also is science and technology in society, which is a somewhat different field too. but in the end, brian is right, either we need sts or we need a new article that is sts. Buridan---
      • There's a historical dimension here... it seems to me that science studies was the umbrella term in the 1980s (as fastfission's reply shows, it still is for some people!); with the 'turn to technology' in the 1990s, 'science and technology studies' gained currency. Today, it seems to me that just about everyone (including people who go on using 'science studies') refer to the field as STS. (How can so many smart people be so maddeningly imprecise in referring to their own field???) How can we capture this in the structure of these entries? How about this?
        • STS - Disambiguation page, with refs to science studies, science and technology studies (STS), science, technology, and society (STS), prefix for numbering of U.S. Space Shuttle flights (e.g., STS-121 will be the next flight. I have no idea what the STS prefix stands for!)
        • science studies - this page
        • science and technology studies (STS) - remove redirect; refer to science studies for introduction, discuss 'turn to technology,' indicate that this has become (for most) the umbrella term; indicate that 'science, technology, and society' is sometimes used synonymously, and sometimes to indicate a slightly different approach
        • science, technology, and society (STS) - indicate that the term is sometimes used synonymously with 'science and technology studies', and sometimes to refer to a similar field that emerged independently from liberal arts programs within U.S. engineering fields. I don't think the latter sense of the term has much meaning anymore - most (if not all) 'science, technology, and society' programs clearly affiliate themselves with 'science and technology studies' and use the two terms more or less synonymously.Still, it's worth covering in the article.
      • My colleagues and I (we're at Virginia) have thought quite a bit about these issues because we just renamed our department: it's now [Science, Technology, and Society] (formerly Technology, Culture, and Communication). We all agreed that 'science and technology studies' is our umbrella field, but we decided against using this term for our department name because (as we discovered) some people thought it referred to the studies that scientists and engineers do! In contrast, 'Science, Technology, and Society' summed up what we do quickly and accurately.
      • Are you familiar with Steve Fuller's (1993) distinction between High Church (science studies) and Low Church (sociology of technology; science, technology, and society)? To me, this distinction is both hilarious and devastatingly accurate, and captures a division within the field that persists to this day.
      • So, if we take NPOV seriously, we have to write these articles in a way that acknowledges the ongoing disagreements, confusions, and ambiguities in nomenclature... Bryan 13:44, 11 October 2005 (UTC)
While that is possible. it is probably best to just to split out sts from this page because it is not the same thing. once that is done, then one would use one article to make clear the high and low churches... but there is not enough content differentiation right now as far as i know to require two articles, but if people did want to make those articles and then proceed to wikify them appropriately throughout the science and technology articles, then you'd be fine. Buridan
  • Well... I think this discussion proves that there really are two fields (or two ways of seeing the same field): science studies and science and technology studies. I think there should be two articles, related as follows: science studies (SSK + history/philosophy of science), science and technology studies (science studies + history/sociology of technology). The articles should explain that, when people talk about science studies or STS, they might -- or might not -- be referring to the same thing. There still are science studies departments -- UCSD, for instance, that don't do much with technology. To clarify something that is at work here, I think: let me add that STS also refers to "science, technology, and society," which is most closely associated with a "humanizing the engineers" movement in US academia starting in the 1960s; the idea was to bring engineers into closer contact with the humanities, etc. Most of these programs have now migrated to science and technology studies. What's more, there's a significant K-12 movement called science-and-technology-studies (yes, the hyphens are part of the name!) that is trying to improve science education by starting with important social issues and proceeding to science as a "need to know" exercise. SO ... I propose to write two articles, science studies and science and technology studies. I might add that we need related articles on science, technology, and society; history and philosophy of science (HPS); science, engineering, and public policy (SEPP); history of technology; and anthropology of technology. Unless someone objects, I'll do what I've proposed (although I can't do so immediately...) Bryan 01:40, 31 October 2005 (UTC)

A Start[edit]

The preceding proposal has survived three weeks without comment, so I'm going to proceed with my proposed changes. Please help! Bryan 23:39, 17 November 2005 (UTC)

A little more development. Bryan 22:43, 23 November 2005 (UTC)

Clarification or correction, please[edit]

of the following sentence: "Previously, successful scientific theories were attributed to having discovered the truth of the matter, while failed theories were attributed to the bias introduced by social factors, such as religious belief or racism." This strikes me as a straw man argument that does not honestly represent the kind of philosophy of science that the Strong Programme is intended to oppose or supercede. For instance, the Popperian philosophy of science never fell into the error of believing that the "truth" could be discovered (indeed, it holds the opposite to be true); and the Popperian point of view, whatever its flaws, was extremely influential for much of the 20th century, i.e. it was previous to the Strong Programme. And it appears to me that attributing the failure of a theory to social factors is purely postmodern. For instance, even if we accept that the value that causes us to hold quantum mechanics as higher in value than Newtonian mechanics is a social value, none of the *classical* philosophers of science held the failure of Newtonian mechanics to account for the discrete spectra of atoms to be due to social factors. Thus, as a description of a type of philosophy of science that contrasts with the Strong Programme, the quoted sentence strikes me as unclear at best, and probably just plain wrong. 04:45, 5 January 2006 (UTC)

  • I think the problem is "failure of a theory" -- my understanding of it was not that this was about theory failure at all, but question of "good science" and "bad science". "Good science" is about objectivity and great ideals and pure logic and etc. while "bad science" is about politics and superscientific factors. It is not meant to imply that people thought that politics is behind, say, Newtonian theory being superceded by Einsteinian (at worst, it would be about how those who clung to the aether were letting their politics get involved, but that would be pretty crude). --Fastfission 05:33, 11 April 2006 (UTC)
and there you would be slightly off target. It isn't about good or bad science. it is about contextualizing the history and progress of science and thus finding the the origins of scientific theory. it is not 'postmodern' either. the strong programme uses social science to resolve what used to be considered a philosophical problem. if you read it as a popperian, you will get confused because popper is fixated on defining what is or is not scientific, amongst other things. he is working on a principle of exclusion for science. the strong programme on the other hand is describing science as it exists. --Buridan 12:04, 11 April 2006 (UTC)
I am not saying that the "good/bad science" distinction is one used by the strong programme at all, but as I understood it the principle of symmetry, simply put, is that if scientists usually invoke social factors to explain things that go "wrong" in science, you should also be able to invoke social factors to explain things that go "right" in science too. In either case it is somewhat of a straw man when put up against Popper qua Popper but it is, I think, not an entirely unfair way of characterizing an extremely common way of discussion the effect of social factors on science. --Fastfission 15:51, 11 April 2006 (UTC)


This article is so unbelievably pompous, one hardly knows where to begin. --Deglr6328 05:10, 11 April 2006 (UTC)

  • Thank you for your suggestion! When you feel an article needs improvement, please feel free to make whatever changes you feel are needed. Wikipedia is a wiki, so anyone can edit almost any article by simply following the Edit this page link at the top. You don't even need to log in! (Although there are some reasons why you might like to…) The Wikipedia community encourages you to be bold. Don't worry too much about making honest mistakes—they're likely to be found and corrected quickly. If you're not sure how editing works, check out how to edit a page, or use the sandbox to try out your editing skills. New contributors are always welcome.. --Fastfission 05:29, 11 April 2006 (UTC)
    • Why bother? I doubt it would take a mere few weeks to revert back to its former pseudointellectual pomposity like so many other sociology articles. I'd rather not waste my time. --Deglr6328 05:29, 12 April 2006 (UTC)
pompous? perhaps you can point us toward where it is being pompous instead of say, just flaming us.--Buridan 11:41, 12 April 2006 (UTC)
If you're not going to bother to even organize your grievances about the article content, then I fail to see why you are bothering to complain. Surely you have better ways to spend your time on here. --Fastfission 16:46, 12 April 2006 (UTC)
I never understood this 'wikimantra' that criticism of aticles is basically verboten unless the person criticising also fixes the article. Just because articles CAN be altered by anyone doesn't mean anyone making critical observations must do so.--Deglr6328 03:27, 13 April 2006 (UTC)
You haven't made any critical observations, you've just made vague and unspecific complaints. And you've insinuated that the other editors on this article are interested in "pseudointellectual pomposity". I fail to see how this isn't just trolling. --Fastfission 12:15, 13 April 2006 (UTC)
K. bye. --Deglr6328 04:45, 14 April 2006 (UTC)

Two (stylistic) critiques[edit]

I have two critiques with this article.

1. Too many abbreviations. In my eyes this gives the impression of "pomposity" that I think Degir was referencing. I recommend elimination of moar of them... especially those that are only once used in this article.

2. Two many red links. Again, it has the same effect... like "Science studies" has its own vocab that only the initiated can understand. The way to fix this is to delink or to create articles. (I'm not saying other Wikipedia articles aren't similar.)

I think I can fix in a bit. I don't know anything about the red-links so I can just delink them for now.

Thoughts? Thanks! --M a s 01:44, 11 May 2006 (UTC)

Done... Could someone please expand the "principal of symmetry" or determine if it's worth its own article? Thanks! --M a s 23:52, 11 May 2006 (UTC)

The review of Physics continues at Talk:Physics/wip[edit]

Some time ago a group of editors set up a "work in progress" page (at Talk:Physics/wip) to hammer out a consensus for the Physics article, which for too long had been in an unstable state. Discussion of the lead for the article has taken a great deal of time and thousands of words. The definitional and philosophical foundations seem to cause most headaches; but progress has been made. Why not review some of the proposals for the lead material that people are putting forward, or put forward your own, or simply join the discussion? The more contributors the better, for a consensus.

Update at 13 November: Concrete proposals have now been put forward, arising from recent discussion aimed at producing a stable and consensual lead section for the Physics article. We have set up a straw poll, for comments on the proposals. Why not drop in at Talk:Physics/wip, and have your say? The proper definition of physics, and the place of physics among the sciences, may well be of interest to editors who contribute here. – Noetica 23:36, 13 November 2006 (UTC)

Science Studies / Philosophy of Science[edit]

I'd like to see a section in the article explaining the relationship between Science studies and Philosophy of Science.

The wiki Philosophy of Science page is here:

Admittedly, I don't have a detailed enough understanding to be sure, but based on this article it seems that science studies is a post-modernist branch of philosophy of science generally. Various thinkers within philosophy of science have addressed the place of science in society, culture, economy, politics and history, so it is unclear to me how Science studies is substantively different in focus (I presume it is in some way, it just isn't clear what the distinction is).


Confused categorization[edit]

This article aswell as its eponymous Category:Science studies seems to have been categorized in a very confused manner. Could we discuss the correct categories here? We should go by the article Brad7777 (talk) 01:58, 2 March 2012 (UTC)

For starters, which categories should be added to Category:Science studies (if any)? Brad7777 (talk) 02:07, 2 March 2012 (UTC)
Which categories should in fact be subcats of Category:Science studies Brad7777 (talk) 02:07, 2 March 2012 (UTC)
Which categories should be related categories to Category:Science studies Brad7777 (talk) 02:07, 2 March 2012 (UTC)