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When things strike back: A possible contribution of 'science studies' to the social sciences

Опубликовано на портале: 22-05-2004
British Journal of Sociology. 2000.  Vol. 51. No. 1. P. 107-123. 
Тематический раздел:
The contribution of the field of science and technology studies (STS) to mainstream sociology has so far been slim because of a misunderstanding about what it means to provide a social explanation of a piece of science or of an artifact. The type of explanation possible for religion, art or popular culture no longer works in the case of hard science or technology. This does not mean that science and technology escapes sociological explanation, but that a deep redistribution of what is a social explanation is in order. Once this misunderstanding has been clarified, it becomes interesting to measure up the challenge raised by STS to the usual epistemologies social sciences believed necessary for their undertakings. The social sciences imitate the natural sciences in a way that render them unable to profit from the type of objectivity found in the natural sciences. It is argued that by following the STS lead, social sciences may start to imitate the natural sciences in a very different fashion. Once the meanings "social" and "science" are reconfigured, the definition of what a "social science" is and what it can do in the political arena is considered. Again it is not by imitating the philosophers of science's ideas of what is a natural science that sociology can be made politically relevant.