STS Handbook Takes a New Direction

Previously I posted about how another edition of the Handbook of Science and Technology Studies is coming out and a new set of editors was about to be named. Now, I own the 2001 “Revised” (or 2nd) edition, and have not closely read the 2007 (or 3rd) edition. Does anyone know what the first edition was called? I can only remember that I used to see The Science Studies Reader on the bookshelf…? Although, the editors of the 2007 edition suggest that a 1970s book titled Handbook of Science, Technology, and Society was the progenitor of the handbook series.

Apparently, the 2013 (or 4th) edition is on the make.

In the 2001 edition, the editors took the role of purported “cartographers” (2001:xi) and chose to map out the contours and meridians of STS (seemed apropos after Tom Gieryn’s Cultural Boundaries of Science in 1999). In the 2007 edition, the editors (2007:3) split the book into sections: theory and method, relations to other fields, public engagement, and something like enduring themes. Of particularly interesting note, as we shall see, is that the original 1970s handbook apparently took 6 years to complete, the 2001 edition (which was originally published in 1995 with 4S) took 7 years to complete, and the 2007 edition (the largest in terms of pages, contributors, and contributions was also published with 4S) took 8 years (2007:2).

The new edition appears to return to the original titling from the 1970s:

… the Handbook of Science, Technology and Society, to be published by Routledge … While there are other handbooks that consider science, technology and society, what we envision is a volume that addresses specific substantive domains, is unified by attention to common themes, and which uses empirical cases to illustrate theoretical claims. 

Instead of drawing a map of STS or cross-cutting into a few categories, this new edition, which is under the perview of 4S too, will be:

… a volume that addresses six substantive domains that shape and are shaped by science and technology:  Digitization, Environments, Technoscience and/ as Work, Technoscience and Bodies, Rules and Standards, and Consuming Technoscience.  Many handbooks seek to capture a field with some comprehensiveness, but without promoting coherence across essays. Instead, we ask each contributor consider one or more of three key processes in their substantive essays:  how and why ideas, artifacts, and practices come to be institutionalized or disrupted; what explains the scale at which technoscience comes to have meaning, is struggled over and travels; and/ or the means by which materiality and cultural value(s) shape science and technology.  We ask each author to read two other chapters in the volume, and to engage them in some way in their own chapter.  While much in STS is richly descriptive, we seek work that is explanatory, and that weaves a clear and cogent argument through an empirical case or cases.

Now, what is also exciting and interesting are the proposed deadlines:

an abstract … [due] by 10 March 2012, … a first draft … [due] by 5 October 2012. … A final draft … due by 5 March 2013.

If the new editors even come close to their target deadlines, this will be the most quickly prepared handbook to date. Should prove to be a most excellent edited volume.

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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.

One thought on “STS Handbook Takes a New Direction

  1. Thanks, Martin. I appreciate the specification on the 1977 book title, and, if we are to be fair, actually, the 2nd edition went through 2001 "revised" edition, which I specified above, even though I know that in 1995 it came out first..However, the bigger issue at play happens to be that I was mistaken. While 4S is looking for a new set of editors for their forthcoming handbook; the handbook I mention of very similar but not identical title, is a different handbook. There will be two handbooks for STS scholars coming out in the near future. .Interesting turn of events.

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