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STS101: Introduction to Science, Technology, and Society

Unit 6: Other Critical and Cultural Studies of Science   A great deal of scholarship that engages science and technology does not fit comfortably within the categories outlined in previous units. This includes research that examines ideology in science and technology, work that examines cultural aspects of knowledge, studies that employ critical theory to examine scientific knowledge and technological developments, research that treats the relationship between literature and science and technology, postmodernist accounts of science, and even work that relies on an examination of science fiction and sci-fi film to make commentaries and critiques of science and technology. Much of the research in this category or subfield is intentionally normative in outlook. That is, it aims at criticizing science to effect change. It cuts across disciplinary boundaries and includes varied epistemological convictions.

This unit aims to introduce such scholarship and to examine a selection of such works through case studies. In no way is this survey of material meant to be exhaustive, as this is a very broad and heterogeneous approach or subfield within STS.

Unit 6 Time Advisory
This unit should take approximately 10.25 hours.

☐    Subunit 6.1: 10 hours

☐    Subunit 6.2: 15 minutes

Unit6 Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this unit, you will be able to: - identify issues important to critical and cultural studies of science and technology scholars; - identify major critical and cultural studies of science and technology; - compare and contrast contemporary approaches to one another and to other approaches within STS; - identify major thinkers associated with various critical and cultural studies of science and technology; and - define key terms used by critical and cultural studies of science and technology.

6.1 Critical and Cultural Studies of Science   - Reading: The Saylor Foundation’s “Cultural and Critical Studies of Science” The Saylor Foundation does not yet have materials for this portion of the course. If you are interested in contributing your content to fill this gap or aware of a resource that could be used here, please submit it here.

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  • Reading: Wesleyan University: Joseph Rouse’s “What are Cultural Studies of Scientific Knowledge?” Link: Wesleyan University: Joseph Rouse’s “What are Cultural Studies of Scientific Knowledge?” (PDF)

    Instructions: Please click on the link above, and then click on the “download” button on the right side of the page to download the PDF. Read this article. This reading can be dense in places. The most important issues to grasp have to do with the difference between cultural studies of science on one hand and other sociological and philosophical traditions on the other. First, the cultural studies of science does not respect the boundaries between the “inside” and “outside” of science. Second, it is neither relativistic like constructivist studies, nor does it aim to impose a single epistemological imperative from the “outside” of science, like the socialist scientist and historian of science, J.D. Bernal. The broad features of this heterogeneous field include: 1) its anti-essentialism, 2) a non-explanatory engagement with science, 3) emphasis on the materiality of scientific practice, 4) emphasis on the cultural open-ness of scientific practice, 5) the subversion of (rather than opposition to) scientific realism and the supposed value-neutrality of science, and 6) a commitment to the epistemic and political criticism of science from within the culture of science. These features are discussed at greater length in the essay.

    Reading this article should take approximately 4 hours.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Reading: Stanley Aronowitz’s Science as Power: Discourse and Ideology in Modern Society: “Science and Technology as Hegemony” Link: Stanley Aronowitz’s Science as Power: Discourse and Ideology in Modern Society: “Science and Technology as Hegemony” (HTML)

    Instructions: Please click on the link above and read this article. This reading is dense in places. Work to grasp Aronowitz’s main arguments about science and technology. What is he saying about them? What does he mean by the hegemony of science and technology?

    Reading this article should take approximately 4 hours.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Reading: Carnegie Mellon University: George Levine’s “What Is Science Studies For, and Who Cares?” Link: Carnegie Mellon University: George Levine’s “What Is Science Studies For, and Who Cares?” (HTML)

    Instructions: Please click on the link above and read this article, which serves as an epilogue for our course. Literary scholar George Levine offers a kind of détente between STS and science, and suggests how science and STS might cooperate with one another.

    Reading this article should take approximately 2 hours.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on  the webpage above.

6.2 Key Terms   - Reading: The Saylor Foundation’s ”Key Terms Worksheet” The Saylor Foundation does not yet have materials for this portion of the course. If you are interested in contributing your content to fill this gap or aware of a resource that could be used here, please submit it here.

[Submit Materials](/contribute/)