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Beyond Objecting And Defending Science: Let’s Talk About Symmetry, Positionality And Reflexivity In Science And Technology Studies. 
Federico Neresini (University of Padova)
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Stefano Crabu (University of Padova)
Jaron Harambam (University of Amsterdam)
Paolo Volonté (Politecnico di Milano)
Traditional Open Panel

Short Abstract:

This panel aims to explore refused knowledge from an agnostic perspective. Contributors can examine how this knowledge is mobilized to address real-life concerns, focusing on symmetry in studying science contestation, researcher positionality, and reflexivity in fieldwork on science mistrust.

Long Abstract:

Nowadays, it seems that the more we need scientific advice to address societal problems, the more controversies we see about the authority of science over vaccinations, climate change, 5g digital infrastructure and so on. At the heart of this issue is the possibility to mobilise other forms of expertise in response to technoscientific knowledge. In academic, media and policy circles, a common perspective on this issue suggests that “anti-science movements” are inherently irrational, driven by visceral emotions or guided by a deviant psychological mindset. Consequently, all forms of knowledge outside the epistemic and institutional boundaries of science must be refused and stigmatised.

At the same time, a growing body of research suggests that those who venture beyond the epistemic boundaries of science are not merely critiquing scientific knowledge. Rather, they engage in a contentious dynamic in which they draw on knowledge refused by scientific communities to address and solve questions and concerns of their everyday life.

The aim of this panel is to explore how refused knowledge can be studied with an agnostic, nonnormative and symmetrical perspective, that is without passing judgement on its social, political and ethical value or assessing whether a given belief is “rational” and “true” according to scientific criteria.

We encourage STS scholars and social scientists in general to submit theoretical, empirical and/or methodological contributions on the emergence, organisation and practices surrounding social worlds based on refused knowledge, and the role of such knowledge in the political and public arena. Contributors can focus on the following dimensions: i) the relevance and appropriateness of the symmetry principle or an agnostic perspective for the study of practices and actors of science contestation; ii) the positionality of scholars observing science contestations and mistrust; iii) the relevance of a reflexive stance in doing fieldwork on science contestation and science mistrust.

Accepted papers:

Session 1