Donnerstag, 21. Mrz 2013, 17:00 - 19:00 iCal

Re-specifying Lab Ethnography?

An Ethnomethodological ‘Take’

Institut für Wissenschafts- und Technikforschung
Universitätsstraße 7 / II / 6, 1010 Wien


Over the last decade, the fate of science and technology studies (STS) as a controversial interdisciplinary field has become an issue of self-reflexive concern for some of its long-standing practitioners (e.g., Latour 2004; Lynch 2009; Woolgar 2006). For S. Woolgar, the provocative potential of STS has been – or is at risk of being – exchanged for its (relative) institutional success, in and beyond academia (cf. Woolgar 2006: 345-346). The new target of ‘critical STS’, in turn, is suggested to be found in ‘politics’, providing the ‘hardest possible case’ to be deconstructed still, as ‘Science’ had provided this case for the sociology of scientific knowledge and laboratory studies in the 1970s and 1980s (ibid.). Whilst Woolgar’s ‘tale of the field’ has some surface appeal, it begs two key questions: how successful had the initial ‘laboratory studies’ actually been in demonstrating the constructed character of scientific facts? Hadn’t this construction process already been shown to embody (epistemic) politics ‘all the way down’? The present talk reexamines these two questions in the light of a recent ethnography in a current domain of experimental physics. Thereby, the talk works out in which ways an ethnomethodological ‘take’ on lab ethnography may contribute to its re-specification, on the one hand, and what consequences the latter may have for (provocative?) STS, on the other.


Philippe Sormani, PhD


Karin Neumann
Institut für Wissenschafts- und Technikforschung