Panels approved for 4S/EASST Copenhagen meeting

Annual Meeting of the Society for Social Studies of Science (4S) 2012: Copenhagen

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October 17-20, 2012, Copenhagen Business School, Frederiksberg, Denmark

Sessions: On states, stateness and STS: Government(ality) with a small “g”?

Organizers: Jan-HendrikPassoth, jan.passoth@unibielefeld.de, Bielefeld University + Nicholas J. Rowland, Penn State, PA, USA

Description: The relationship between science, technology, and governance shapes and is shaped by states. While it has been influential in STS research on how modes of governance influence scientific practice and technological innovations, the converse question of the influence of both on governance is underrepresented.

This panel explores the inter-play between this relationship and its depiction in social/political theory. We engage and question well-trodden artifacts of social and political theory such as state entitivity, state materiality, and the much distributed Foucauldian model of stateness. What does STS have to offer broader social and political theory devoted to the depiction and performance of political action? Likewise, what can STS learn from these traditions that have shaped previous research on state formation, degradation, and revision? Hence, we explore empirically and conceptually the possibilities of research based on an STS approach to politics, states and stateness, governance and governmentality. Just like early lab-studies came back from the lab to inform us empirically about science with a small “s”, an STS approach to states and stateness would be the attempt to study govern(mentality) with a small “g”: It looks at the many interwoven processes of designing, planning, maintaining and displacing the infrastructural setting of modern political practice as well as the re-assembling of the respective actors and entities.

We propose an open panel, and anticipate two to three related sessions: we anticipate that one session focuses on conceptualization and theoretical approaches, dealing with the mechanisms and techniques of creating, maintaining and shifting the multiple ontologies of stateness. We also imagine that the additional sessions be devoted to papers that deliver a diverse set of case studies with empirical support on topics related to state ontology, state infrastructure, and techniques or practices of self-regulation under political (perhaps neoliberal) conditions.

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About Nicholas

Associate Professor of Sociology, Environmental Studies, and Science and Technology Studies at Penn State, Nicholas mainly writes about understanding the scientific study of states and, thus, it is namely about state theory. Given his training in sociology and STS, he takes a decidedly STS-oriented approach to state theory and issues of governance.

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