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Social Technology Special Issue is out! 18 Apr, 2012

Posted by Anne Beaulieu in Uncategorized.
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We are very pleased to announce that our special issue on ‘social technology’ has now appeared. It is the issue of April 2012 (22(2)) of the Journal Theory and Psychology. Please contact the editors for more information: Anne Beaulieu, Maarten Derksen, and Signe Vikkelsø.

The introduction to the special issue is entitled ‘Social technologies: Cross-disciplinary reflections on technologies in and from the social sciences’ Theory & Psychology April 2012 22: 139-147, doi:10.1177/0959354311427593.


Special issue in press! 30 Nov, 2011

Posted by Anne Beaulieu in Uncategorized.
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It’s our turn to go into production at Theory & Psychology!!!

Here is the table of contents!

Update on social technology 8 Oct, 2010

Posted by Anne Beaulieu in references.

A year post-workshop, we are pleased to report on a number of very nice developments around the contributions to the 2 October event in Amsterdam:

First, a number of publications have appeared or are about to appear in print:

Braun, K., Herrmann, S., Moore, A. & Könninger, S. (forthcoming, 2010). The politics of proper talk. Science, Technology and Human Values.

Brenninkmeijer, J. (2010). Taking care of one’s brain: how manipulating the brain changes people’s selves. History of the Human Sciences, 23, 107-126).

Derksen, M. and A. Beaulieu (2011) Social Technology, Handbook of the Philosophy of Social Science. Ian Jarvie and Jesús Zamora Bonilla Eds, Sage.

Lezaun, J. (forthcoming) Offshore Democracy: Launch and Landfall of a Socio-Technical Experiment. Economy & Society

Lippert, I. (under review) Dematerialising the earth, Ephemera.

One further paper is in preparation:

Katia Dupret Søndergaard, Intensive Social Technological Effects in Psychiatric Practice

And last but not least, Signe, Maarten and Anne, as the editors of the special issue on social technology of Theory & Psychology are very pleased to have sent off the entire issue to the editor-in-chief for final review, earlier this week!

The contents:

  • Maarten Derksen, Signe Vikkelsø and Anne Beaulieu, Introduction to social technology
  • Tereza Stöckelová, Social technology transfer? Movement of social science knowledge beyond the academy
  • Katja Mayer, Objectifying social structures: Enacting the social? Blanking the technological?
  • Julie Sommerlund, Sara Malou Strandvad, The promises of talent: Performing potentiality
  • Maarten Derksen, Control and resistance in the psychology of lying
  • Signe Vikkelsø, The fragility of a robust therapeutic technique: The case of Bion’s experience
  • Steve Brown, Three minutes of silence: Social technologies of public commemoration

At the 2009 4S meeting 2 Nov, 2009

Posted by Anne Beaulieu in conference.
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Session 88. Studies of the Human Sciences 8:00 to 10:00 am

Hyatt Regency: Washington B


Moving Darwin: The Problem of Locality in Diffusionist History of Science.Olga Restrepo Forero, Universidad Nacional de Colombia; Malcolm Ashmore, Loughborough University

Raising the Journal Impact Factor in Social Sciences after at Least Four Years of Continuous Decreases. Juan Miguel Campanario, Universidad de Alcalá; Antonia Candelario, Universidad de Alcalá Regimes of

Perceptibility in the Social Sciences. Christopher Kullenberg, University of Gothenburg

Structural Conditions and Choice of Theory, Method and Subject in Sociology. Kristoffer Kropp, University of

Who produces social technologies? 23 Oct, 2009

Posted by Maarten Derksen in Uncategorized.
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The relevance to the social sciences also lies in the fact that, as Bas and Paul note, the social sciences have been losing their near-monopoly on defining, analysing, producing and manipulating social relations. Social technology has been democratized. In our chapter we give the example of social software. Katja’s social network analysis is another example, and I think Jonna’s neurofeedback users do something similar but on a psychological level. That means social technology is increasingly salient as an object of study for the social sciences: sociality is more and more something that people create technically. The instrumental, technoscientific approach to social life is not the exclusive province of social scientists anymore, but by the same token, it demands all the more attention as an object of study.

What is the analytical gain? 23 Oct, 2009

Posted by Maarten Derksen in Uncategorized.
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In a field already replete with jargon, neologisms and other attempts at conceptual innovation, one has to have a good reason to introduce yet another new concept. Bas and Paul’s question – what is the analytical gain of ‘social technology’ in comparison with existing concepts – is to the point. I think the gain is twofold: compared to traditional social scientific concepts like institution or ritual, it highlights the instrumental aspect, asks ‘how it is done’, and to what effect. This, to me, was always the most fascinating aspect of Foucauldian work, but technology studies can offer fresh ways of looking at institutions etcetera as technological accomplishments. Second, compared to technology studies and STS in general, ‘social technology’ draws attention to what Bas and Paul call ‘the distinctiveness of human actors in a technoscientific world’. Not only does new technology allow new kinds of human – non-human collectivity (a point well made by Latourians), it also allows and provokes resistance and new ways to be distinctively human. My favorite example is behavioral engineering, which though based on the idea that human behavior is completely determined by environmental ‘contingencies’, ended up as a new way to be in control of yourself, a new way to be free.

In short, ‘social technology’ points to the technological in sociality and to the social in technology. How best to analyse social technologies, is an open question. We do not have a theory. What I would be very wary of, however, is the impulse to demarcate the set of ‘social technologies’ in advance. ‘Social technology’ is an analytical tool, not a thing.

Reply to Bas and Paul 23 Oct, 2009

Posted by Maarten Derksen in definitions.
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Part of the reason for organising the workshop was that we felt that the concept of ‘social technology’ pointed at several interesting and urgent issues at the intersection of STS and the social sciences (including psychology), but that it still needed to be developed and clarified. The reactions to our call for papers confirmed this: people were very enthusiastic and the participants of the workshop were clearly inspired, but the notion of ‘social technology’ was interpreted in various ways, taken in a range of directions. To some extent, I believe this diversity is a good thing: we proposed ‘social technology’ in part as a call to study empirical domains that we believe have been neglected. The fact that participants readily identified a diverse range of them, confirms this. Nevertheless, we intend ‘social technology’ to be more than a heuristic, and Bas and Paul have raised a number of questions that can help us clarify the concept theoretically. I have selected two, and will write seperate blog posts answering each of them. I invite everyone to comment on the piece by Bas and Paul and on my replies.

Reporting on the workshop 16 Oct, 2009

Posted by Anne Beaulieu in Uncategorized.
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We were lucky to be joined by Bas van Heur and Paul Wouters, who commented: (full text here)

A basic issue raised in almost all concept-centered events, such as this one, is the explanatory status of the concept. Not surprisingly, therefore, in this particular workshop the notion of social technology returned as a key topic for debate. Although most participants resisted the urge to define this concept in advance of empirical analysis, various dimensions of social technologies were addressed.
This approach does raise the issue, however, of how to define the notion of “social technology”. What exactly is the analytical gain of the concept of social technology in comparison with the concept of institution (or in some cases ritual)? To what extent can the social technology concept help mainstream sociology to pay more in-depth attention to social practices and routines that otherwise would be too easily subsumed under more familiar categories or concepts? In other words, in what sense is the notion of social technology useful? Is it primarily a new perspective on social institutions and processes that zooms in on the instrumental dimensions and that mobilizes the sociology of technology for this? Or are social technologies specific phenomena in the world that need particular specifications in order to be properly evaluated and understood?

You can find the full text here.

Conferences of interest 3 Oct, 2009

Posted by Anne Beaulieu in conference.
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Following up on our discussions about a potential follow-up event at EASST, this conference was noted by Javier Lezaun.

The ESRC Centre for Research on Socio-Cultural Change (CRESC) has issued a call for papers for its 6th Annual Conference 2010: The Social Life Of Methods – 31 August-3 September, St Hugh’s College Oxford. Here is the full text of the call.

Paper Deadline: 22 August 19 Aug, 2009

Posted by Anne Beaulieu in Uncategorized.
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We hope you are looking back on (or still enjoying) nice holidays and that you are looking forward to our meeting in Amsterdam.

A reminder that the deadline for full papers is 22 August 2009. Please send papers to


It would be a good idea to include a short note at the top of your paper, giving some information about the text and its intended audience, in order to help ‘configure the reader’. (For example, is it a book or thesis chapter, a draft article for a particular journal, etc.)

If any of you have not yet made travel arrangements, there is some hotel and travel information on this blog.

If you have any questions regarding accommodation or how best to get to Amsterdam, do not hesitate to contact Anja de Haas (anja.dehaas@vks.knaw.nl), who assists us in organizing this workshop.