General Science and Technology Studies
The work on this page covers my general writings on STS. At one level these publications can be read as pedagogical and methodological work about core concepts and ethnographic methods, but there is also a engagement with the field that is anchored in intellectual traditions and academic networks that would like to see STS engage more deeply with structural inequality (e.g., gender, race, class, postcolonial position). This is reflected in my writings during the 1990s about the "two ethnographies" issue in STS (the differences between anthropological ethnography and laboratory studies), the potential for a higher level asymmetry that involves a normative stance (a position that has some similarities to what Collins developed with his "third wave" studies), and arguments in favor of a broad use of the culture-power concept and (later) of the field concept as part of analytical frameworks that could accomplish these goals. So I see a continuity in themes between the work of some anthropology of science and technology (especially by feminists) and that of political sociology, even if the methods and intellectual styles are different. The differences between sociology and anthropology are another theme in these and other writings.
Science Studies: An Advanced Introduction
My book Science Studies: An Advanced Introduction (NYU Press, 1997; Google Scholar Preview) grew out of attempts to teach basic concepts in STS to graduate students in STS, but it was also a kind of statement about what the field could be from a "big tent" perspective. Since its publication, many other introductory books to STS have come on the market, but mine remains one of the few books committed to the full range of STS approaches, and I think it accurately predicted the emerging importance of cultural approaches in the STS field. Steve Yearley's introductory book is a excellent complement to mine, because it provides a much more detailed view of the constructivist current within STS. My book is now out of date, and I have provided some supplementary web lectures here that discuss my take on the field during the subsequent years, which I use in teaching. Again, these essays have both a didactic and interventionist goal.
Supplemental Lecture 1: Background Frameworks in Science and Technology Studies
Supplemental Lecture 2: Constructivism
Supplemental Lecture 3: Dynamics of Research Fields
Supplemental Lecture 4: Expertise, Policy, and Publics
Other General Theoretical and Methodological Work in STS:
2016 David J. Hess, Sulfikar Amir, Scott Frickel, Daniel Lee Kleinman, Kelly Moore, and Logan Williams. “Structural Inequality and the Politics of Science and Technology.” In Rayvon Fouché, Clarke Miller, Laurel Smith-Doerr, and Ulrike Felte (eds.), Handbook of Science and Technology Studies. MIT Press.
2016. Undone Science: Social Movements, Mobilized Publics, and Industrial Transitions. MIT Press.
2014 David J. Hess and Scott Frickel, “Introduction: Fields of Knowledge and Theory Traditions in the Sociology of Science.” Political Power and Social Theory, 27: 1-30. Here we look at field and institutional sociologies as alternative theoretical frameworks within the sociology of science for studies of neoliberalism and commercialization. Please contact me for a copy.
2013 "Neoliberalism and the History of STS Theory: Toward a Reflexive Sociology." Social Epistemology 27(2): 177-193. Final version here. This paper discusses the relationship between Merton's thought and social liberalism as well as Latour's work of the 1980s on Pasteur and neoliberalism. See also the reply to Schweber's commentary on the Social Epistemology web site: http://social-epistemology.com.
2012 "Cultures of Science." In Sabine Massen, Mario Kaiser, Martin Reinhart, Barbara Sutter, eds. Handbuch Wissenschaftersoziologie. VS Verlag. Final English version here.
2011 "Bourdieu and Science and Technology Studies: Toward a Reflexive Sociology." Minerva 49(3): 333-348.This paper on the STS field and research priorities provides another introductory overview of the field. Here I explicitly use field sociology to accomplish a reflexive sociology of STS to examine relations between institutional hierarchy and intellectual taste in the field. Paper here.
2011 Conference on the political sociology of science and technology, 2011. I organized this conference at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.
2002 "Science Studies and Activism: Possibilities and Problems for Reconstructivist Agendas," by E.J. Woodhouse, David Hess, Steve Breyman, and Brian Martin. Social Studies of Science 32/2: 297-319. The paper discusses relations between the academic and activist sides of STS, developing the theme raised in my 1998 and 2001 essays. Link to final version (off-site) here.
2001 "Scientific Culture." In Neil J. Smelser and Paul B. Bates, eds., International Encyclopedia of the Social and Behavioral Sciences, Elsevier. Pp. 13724-13727. Prepublication version here. When teaching STS, I still use this essay as a basic introduction to the "what is science?" question.
2001 Studying Those Who Study Us: An Anthropologist in the World of Artificial Intelligence, by Diana Forsythe (posthumous). Edited and with an introduction by David Hess. (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2001; Google Scholar Preview). I edited the collected papers of the cultural anthropologist Diana Forsythe, a friend and colleague who died unexpectedly in a hiking accident and played an important role in the integration of feminist cultural analysis into the anthropology of science and STS.
2001 "Ethnography and the Development of Science and Technology Studies." Sage Handbook of Ethnography. Paul Atkinson, Amanda Coffey, Sara Delamont, Lyn Lofland, and John Lofland, eds. This essay defines a standard of "good ethnography" and then examines issues of normative stance in ethnography. It develops the argument for higher-level asymmetry as an extension of the strong program approach. Draft version here.
1998 "If You're Thinking of Living in STS....A Guide for the Perplexed." In Gary Downey and Joe Dumit (eds.), Cyborgs and Citadels: Anthropological Interventions in Emerging Sciences and Technologies. Santa Fe: SAR Press. The final draft version with comments is here. This was an early formulation of differences in ethnographic methods between the laboratory ethnographies of the 1980s and the ethnographic methods of anthropologists, whose engagement with the STS field became especially visible during the 1990s. As a scholar who has been in close conversation with both sociologists and anthropologists for most of my career, I have thought quite a bit about these differences. I return to this issue, in a more neutral vein, in "Crosscurrents: Social Movements and the Anthropology of Science and Technology," American Anthropologist 109(3), here, and in "Local and Not-so-Local Exchanges: Alternative Economies, Ethnography, and Social Science," In Jeff Juris and Alex Khasnabish, eds., Insurgent Encounters: Transnational Activism, Ethnography, and the Political. Duke University Press, pp. 151-170, prepublication version here. This essay also argued for a normative turn in STS, which has become somewhat more widely accepted in the STS field (e.g., third wave).
1995 Science and Technology in a Multicultural World. (Columbia University Press, 1995; Google Scholar Preview). This book argued for the value of the culture concept, understood in diverse ways but especially influenced by anthropology, in STS. Since then there has been an explosion of ethnographic and cultural analysis by historians, anthropologists, and sociologists, but the book still provides a basic overview of some of the different approaches.
1992 Knowledge and Society Volume 9: The Anthropology of Science and Technology. Coedited with Linda Layne; series editor Arie Rip. JAI Press. Articles by Hess: "Introduction: The New Ethnography and the Anthropology of Science and Technology." This was the first edited collection of anthropologists of science and technology. It was also the initial statement in which I was beginning to work through what was different about an anthropology of STS in comparison with the ethnographic studies of the sociology of scientific knowledge.