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Inside Technology

Inside Technology combines the traditional strengths of the history of technology with the methodology and insights gained in the sociology of scientific knowledge, and thus provides a deeper understanding of the social processes underlying technology. A crucial aspect of the series is the absence of both disciplinary and theoretical agendas. Because of the multifaceted nature of technology, insights from a variety of disciplines are vital to understanding the content and context of technology—engineering, the natural sciences, history, sociology, economics, political science, and anthropology. It does not promote any single conceptual framework over another; rather the goal is to stimulate a variety of perspectives that address the social shaping of technology.

An Essay on Technical Democracy

Controversies over such issues as nuclear waste, genetically modified organisms, asbestos, tobacco, gene therapy, avian flu, and cell phone towers arise almost daily as rapid scientific and technological advances create uncertainty and bring about unforeseen concerns.

Americanization, Technology, and European Users

Richard Nixon and Nikita Khrushchev's famous "kitchen debate" in 1958 involved more than the virtues of American appliances. Both Nixon and Khrushchev recognized the political symbolism of the modern kitchen; the kind of technological innovation represented in this everyday context spoke to the political system that produced it. The kitchen connects the "big" politics of politicians and statesmen to the "small" politics of users and interest groups.

Economic Sociology Meets Science and Technology Studies

Although social scientists generally agree that technology plays a key role in the economy, economics and technology have yet to be brought together into a coherent framework that is both analytically interesting and empirically oriented. This book draws on the tools of science and technology studies and economic sociology to reconceptualize the intersection of economy and technology, suggesting materiality--the idea that social existence involves not only actors and social relations but also objects--as the theoretical point of convergence.

Building our Sociotechnical Future

Technological change does not happen in a vacuum; decisions about which technologies to develop, fund, market, and use engage ideas about values as well as calculations of costs and benefits. This anthology focuses on the interconnections of technology, society, and values.

Innovation in a Fragile Future

Curiosity is the main driving force behind scientific activity. Scientific curiosity, insatiable in its explorations, does not know what it will find, or where it will lead. Science needs autonomy to cultivate this kind of untrammeled curiosity; innovation, however, responds to the needs and desires of society. Innovation, argues influential European science studies scholar Helga Nowotny, tames the passion of science, harnessing it to produce “deliverables.” Science brings uncertainties; innovation successfully copes with them.

Technology, Culture, and Public Problems of Noise in theTwentieth Century

Since the late nineteenth century, the sounds of technology have been the subject of complaints, regulation, and legislation. By the early 1900s, antinoise leagues in Western Europe and North America had formed to fight noise from factories, steam trains, automobiles, and gramophones, with campaigns featuring conferences, exhibitions, and “silence weeks.” And, as Karin Bijsterveld points out in Mechanical Sound, public discussion of noise has never died down and continues today.

Science and Industrial Agriculture in California

Just south of San Francisco lies California's Salinas Valley, the heart of a multibillion dollar agricultural industry that dominates U. S. vegetable production. How did the sleepy valley described in the stories of John Steinbeck become the nation's "salad bowl"? In Cultivating Science, Harvesting Power, Christopher R. Henke explores the ways that science helped build the Salinas Valley and California's broader farm industry.

The Dawn of the Motor Age in the American City

Before the advent of the automobile, users of city streets were diverse and included children at play and pedestrians at large. By 1930, most streets were primarily a motor thoroughfares where children did not belong and where pedestrians were condemned as “jaywalkers.” In Fighting Traffic, Peter Norton argues that to accommodate automobiles, the American city required not only a physical change but also a social one: before the city could be reconstructed for the sake of motorists, its streets had to be socially reconstructed as places where motorists belonged.

Video Stores and the Invention of Movies on Video

The first video cassette recorders were promoted in the 1970s as an extension of broadcast television technology--a time-shifting device, a way to tape TV shows. Early advertising for Sony’s Betamax told potential purchasers “You don’t have to miss Kojak because you’re watching Columbo.” But within a few years, the VCR had been transformed from a machine that recorded television into an extension of the movie theater into the home.

Computers, Change, and Continuity in Science

The use of information and communication technology in scientific research has been hailed as the means to a new larger-scale, more efficient, and cost-effective science. But although scientists increasingly use computers in their work and institutions have made massive investments in technology, we still have little idea how computing affects the way scientists work and the kind of knowledge they produce.

Inside Modern European Cities

Urban Machinery investigates the technological dimension of modern European cities, vividly describing the most dramatic changes in the urban environment over the last century and a half. Written by leading scholars from the history of technology, urban history, and the sociology of science and technology, the book views the European city as a complex construct entangled with technology.

Collaboration among organizations is rapidly becoming common in scientific research as globalization and new communication technologies make it possible for researchers from different locations and institutions to work together on common projects. These scientific and technological collaborations are part of a general trend toward more fluid, flexible, and temporary organizational arrangements, but they have received very limited scholarly attention.

Breast Cancer, Technology, and the Comparative Politics of Health Care

In Building Genetic Medicine, Shobita Parthasarathy shows how, even in an era of globalization, national context is playing an important role in the development and use of genetic technologies.

Scientists, Engineers, and Computers During the Rise of U.S. Cold War Research

During the Cold War, the field of computing advanced rapidly within a complex institutional context. In Calculating a Natural World, Atsushi Akera describes the complicated interplay of academic, commercial, and government and military interests that produced a burst of scientific discovery and technological innovation in 1940s and 1950s America. This was the era of big machines--the computers that made the reputations of IBM and of many academic laboratories--and Akera uses the computer as a historical window on the emerging infrastructure of American scientific and engineering research.

The Ontological Choreography of Reproductive Technologies

Assisted reproductive technology (ART) makes babies and parents at once. Drawing on science and technology studies, feminist theory, and historical and ethnographic analyses of ART clinics, Charis Thompson explores the intertwining of biological reproduction with the personal, political, and technological meanings of reproduction.

Decades before the Internet, ham radio provided instantaneous, global, person-to-person communication. Hundreds of thousands of amateur radio operators--a predominantly male, middle- and upper-class group known as "hams"--built and operated two-way radios for recreation in mid twentieth century America.

How Financial Models Shape Markets

In An Engine, Not a Camera, Donald MacKenzie argues that the emergence of modern economic theories of finance affected financial markets in fundamental ways. These new, Nobel Prize-winning theories, based on elegant mathematical models of markets, were not simply external analyses but intrinsic parts of economic processes. Paraphrasing Milton Friedman, MacKenzie says that economic models are an engine of inquiry rather than a camera to reproduce empirical facts. More than that, the emergence of an authoritative theory of financial markets altered those markets fundamentally.

The way we record knowledge, and the web of technical, formal, and social practices that surrounds it, inevitably affects the knowledge that we record. The ways we hold knowledge about the past—in handwritten manuscripts, in printed books, in file folders, in databases—shape the kind of stories we tell about that past. In this lively and erudite look at the relation of our information infrastructures to our information, Geoffrey Bowker examines how, over the past two hundred years, information technology has converged with the nature and production of scientific knowledge.

Innovation and the Growth of High Tech, 1930-1970

In Making Silicon Valley, Christophe Lécuyer shows that the explosive growth of the personal computer industry in Silicon Valley was the culmination of decades of growth and innovation in the San Francisco-area electronics industry.

Obduracy in Urban Sociotechnical Change

City planning initiatives and redesign of urban structures often become mired in debate and delay. Despite the fact that cities are considered to be dynamic and flexible spaces—never finished but always under construction—it is very difficult to change existing urban structures; they become fixed, obdurate, securely anchored in their own histories as well as in the histories of their surroundings.

Historical and Contemporary Perspectives
Edited by David Kaiser

Pedagogy and the Practice of Science provides the first sustained examination of how scientists' and engineers' training shapes their research and careers. The wide-ranging essays move pedagogy to the center of science studies, asking where questions of scientists' training should fit into our studies of the history, sociology, and anthropology of science. Chapter authors examine the deep interrelations among training, learning, and research and consider how the form of scientific training affects the content of science.

Innovation in Online Newspapers

In this study of how daily newspapers in America have developed electronic publishing ventures, Pablo Boczkowski shows that new media emerge not just in a burst of revolutionary technological change but by merging the structures and practices of existing media with newly available technical capabilities. His multi-disciplinary perspectives of science and technology, communication, and organization studies allow him to address the connections between technical, editorial, and work facets of new media.

Computing, Risk, and Trust

Most aspects of our private and social lives—our safety, the integrity of the financial system, the functioning of utilities and other services, and national security—now depend on computing. But how can we know that this computing is trustworthy? In Mechanizing Proof, Donald MacKenzie addresses this key issue by investigating the interrelations of computing, risk, and mathematical proof over the last half century from the perspectives of history and sociology.

The Co-Construction of Users and Technology

Users have become an integral part of technology studies. The essays in this volume look at the creative capacity of users to shape technology in all phases, from design to implementation. Using a variety of theoretical approaches, including a feminist focus on users and use (in place of the traditional emphasis on men and machines), concepts from semiotics, and the cultural studies view of consumption as a cultural activity, these essays examine what users do with technology and, in turn, what technology does to users.

Realigning the Normal and the Pathological in Late-Twentieth-Century Medicine

Since the end of World War II, biology and medicine have merged in remarkably productive ways. In this book Peter Keating and Alberto Cambrosio analyze the transformation of medicine into biomedicine and its consequences, ranging from the recasting of hospital architecture to the redefinition of the human body, disease, and therapeutic practices. To describe this new alignment between the normal and the pathological, the authors introduce the notion of the biomedical platform.

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