T023
Science Is Politics by Other Means Revisited
Convenors:
Eve Seguin (Université du Québec à Montréal)
Dominique Vinck (Lausanne University)
Stream:
Tracks
Location:
121
Sessions:
Thursday 1 September, 9:00-10:45, 11:00-12:45, 12:30-14:15 (UTC+0)

Short abstract:

Latour’s claim that “science is politics by other means” has become the underlying creed of the STS field. Yet it raises a number of fascinating questions such as the many interpretations given to it, its articulation with other approaches, its reception in different disciplines, etc. This track aims at revisiting it.

Long abstract:

Latour’s famous claim that “science is politics by other means” has shifted the focus of attention from science to politics in the STS field, and seems to have become its underlying creed. Yet it raises a number of fascinating questions and time might have come to revisit it.

Let us start with the many interpretations of it that circulate in the STS literature:

The contestation of scientific ideas

The disciplinary policies targeted at nonhumans

The reduction of scientific truth to politics

The laboratory as the locus where new sources of power arise

The struggle for the public interpretation of reality

The building of alliances between nonhumans and social interests

1. Do the above, and other, interpretations overlap, and to what extent? Are they complementary or irreconcilable? Are they equally valid?

2. How does this claim relate to other approaches advocated by Latour (actor-network theory, extended symmetry principle), and by other scholars (co-production idiom)?

3. How useful has it been for the conduct of empirical research? Do case studies in STS pay lip service to it? How does it enhance rather than impoverish our understanding of science?

4. Does Latour’s more recent work depart from it? What can we learn from the debates he had with Favre, De Vries, or Beck in the mid-2000s?