ON-LINE FIRST: Infrastructure and the state in science and technology studies

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Our new article in Social Studies of Science about infrastructure and the state in contemporary STS books. It is ON-LINE FIRST so it is free to one and all (at least, for now). It is a relatively short piece, but the introduction and conclusion captures some of our emerging ideas.

As a review article/essay, we review a series of books (rather than one), which include:

1. Andrew Barry, Material Politics: Disputes along the Pipeline (Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2013) xiv+ 244 pp., £60.00/€70,60/$89.95 (hbk), £24.99/€31,30/$39.95 (pbk). ISBN 1118529111 (hbk), 111852912X (pbk).

2. Jo Guldi, Roads to Power: Britain Invents the Infrastructure State (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2012), 297 pp., £31.95/€32.87/$37.80 (hbk). ISBN 0674057597 (hbk).

3. Allan Mazur, Energy and Electricity in Industrial Nations: The Sociology and Technology of Energy (London: Routledge, 2013) xvii + 227 pp., £90.00/€114,05/$155.00 (hbk), £28.99/€37.96/$48.96 (pbk). ISBN 0415634415 (hbk), ISBN 0415634423 (pbk).

4. Sara B Pritchard, Confluence: The Nature of Technology and the Remaking of the Rhône (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2011) xvii + 371 pp., £38.95/€40.62/$47.25 (hbk). ISBN 0674049659 (hbk).

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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.

11 thoughts on “ON-LINE FIRST: Infrastructure and the state in science and technology studies

  1. thanks for sharing, brings up interesting questions of how widely does one have to map out a “network” to get a sense of what is act play in any particular doing/happening, sometimes the moving of technologies/projects from one setting to another helps foreground much of what gets taken for granted (especially moves from arenas of highly developed to low) and certainly as Dewey/Heidegger pointed out so do breakdowns (and we should add decay/neglect).

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    • Indeed, indeed. We are thinking much the same things about how to embed an old idea like the state into new fodder and do it “right” (if that is possible). It was so difficult to write this short piece until we simply gave into our, essentially, opinion about how this might have been done differently … after that, the piece flowed fairly easily.

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      • he’s a clever fellow for sure, for me tho when these folks zoom out too much they start to lose the kind of detailed/thick analysis that makes them work (at least for me) but of course we know that local assemblages are with/in larger surrounds so how to keep the connection to what is real/present and yet have some sense of the bigger picture, tricky business to say the least…
        I keep thinking of the zooming in and out of googles maps when I’m trying to find someplace, but haven’t gotten any where with it really beyond that intuition.

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      • yes thanks that’s along the lines of it, have been working with a local ngo on transportation issues and we keep running into the madteaparty no new taxes and no hope of govt leadership/planning (and so by default chasing developer money/politics which is often counterproductive to public/democratic interests) walls and so not long before issues of infrastructure/technology run into politics/culture/psychology/PR so how do decide where and how to attack these issues to be effective and how to test these hypotheses/efforts let alone come to some consensus…

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        • yeah, this “save tax payer money” line is a bunch of bull; infrastructure above all should be invested in — it is, in my opinion, the ultimate democratic good.

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