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The programme 30 Jun, 2009

Posted by Maarten Derksen in conference, Uncategorized.
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We have put together a programme, organizing the papers into four themes, and assigning a respondent to each paper.  We could have sorted the papers in many different ways, and there are many more themes which run through them, but this seemed a reasonable arrangement.

We would like to ask each respondent to prepare a brief, five minute commentary, in which you discuss in particular the contribution of the paper to the theme of social technology.

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Announcing the participants! 10 Jun, 2009

Posted by Anne Beaulieu in conference.
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We are very pleased to announce that the following participants will convene at the workshop on 2 October:

Kathrin Braun, London School of Economics: Governing proper talk (abstract)

Jonna Brenninkmeijer, University of Groningen: Brain devices (abstract)

Steve Brown, Loughborough University and Universiteit voor Humanistiek, Utrecht: Three minutes of silence (abstract)

Maarten Derksen, University of Groningen & Anne Beaulieu, Virtual Knowledge Studio, Amsterdam: Technologies in the social sciences (abstract)

Javier Lezaun, University of Oxford: Offshore democracy (abstract)

Ingmar Lippert, University of Augsburg: Dematerialising earth (abstract)

Katja Mayer, University of Vienna: Objectifying social structures (abstract)

Julie Sommerlund, Danish Design School & Sara Malou Strandvad, Roskilde University: Talent as social technology (abstract)

Katia Dupret Søndergaard, Aarhus University: Intangible and futile changes in psychiatric practice (abstract)

Tereza Stöckelová, Academy of Science of the Czech Republic: Mutability and mobility of social science knowledge (abstract)

Signe Vikkelsø, Copenhagen Business School: The experimentalism of psychoanalysis (abstract)

Call for Participants 29 May, 2009

Posted by Anne Beaulieu in conference, Uncategorized.
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Amsterdam, 2 October 2009

Sponsored by The Netherlands Graduate School of Science, Technology and Modern Culture (WTMC)

Call for participants
This one-day workshop will be held in Amsterdam, 2 October 2009. Papers will be pre-circulated and a respondent assigned for each contribution. If you are interested in submitting a paper, please send an abstract, 400 – 600 words, before 30 May 2009, to m.derksen@rug.nl

Topic
In this workshop, we seek to address two deeply ingrained aspects of current Science and Technology Studies: the focus on material technology, and the idea that all technology is social. Devices, machines, artifacts take central place in STS, in keeping with the common sense meaning of the word ‘technology’. Combined with STS’s traditional focus on natural science and medicine, this has resulted in a relative neglect of technologies that stem from the social sciences, in which material devices are less prominent. Moreover, through the influence of actor-network theory in particular, the idea has taken root that material technology forms the glue of our society (the ‘missing masses’), as well as being its main source of change. Material technology is considered to be at the heart of society, and the dichotomy of the social and the technological is rejected: all technology is social, and society is technological through and through.

We wish first of all to redress the imbalance inherent in the material view of technology. The social sciences produce great numbers of graduates each year, skilled in technologies that are to a large extent intangible: psychotherapy, focus groups, various types of interview, techniques of human resource management, and many others. Such practices have of course been the subject of historical and sociological study, often from a Foucauldian perspective. However, applying the conceptual resources of STS may bring into better view the socio-material construction processes involved in practical social science, its particular affordances and trade-offs, and embeddedness in technoscientific networks.

Secondly, we want to problematize the popular ‘dissolution of the social’: the widely accepted proposition that the category of ‘the social’ is at best increasingly irrelevant, and at worst a fundamental mistake. Rethinking old dichotomies such as that of nature and culture, or the material and the social, has been of tremendous importance in reflecting on our current ways of living. However, the fact that it is no longer acceptable as a theoretical resource, does not make the social any less interesting as an empirical phenomenon. The distinctiveness of people and their interactions is still invoked, produced, repressed, and utilized in many technological assemblages, not only those stemming from the social sciences.

We propose the term ‘social technology’ to cover these issues, and intend to bring together a number of scholars from Science and Technology Studies and the Social Sciences to discuss them.

The workshop will be the occasion to address the following questions, through theoretical and conceptual reflections and empirically-oriented contributions: What is the current scope of technology studies and to what extent can it embrace social technologies? Which social technologies are especially prominent in contemporary culture, and how can we study these? Does a reframing of ‘technology’ enable STS to better explore the workings of social science and humanities? How can the term social technology allow a study of human qualities, without assuming a priori a human essence?

Papers that compare the role of predominantly material technologies in building and stabilizing ‘collectives’ with the role of social technologies are also welcome, as are papers that address social technologies as (1) technologies from the social sciences, (2) technologies that consist entirely or predominantly of human action (polling, rhetoric, and psychotherapy are examples of social technology in this sense) or (3) technologies for the creation and maintenance of groups.

Costs
Thanks to generous support from WTMC, there is no registration fee. Some funding is available to cover travel to the workshop.

Location
The workshop will be hosted by the Virtual Knowledge Studio for the Humanities and Social Sciences, Amsterdam.

Organisers
Maarten Derksen (University of Groningen, The Netherlands) – m.derksen@rug.nl
Signe Vikkelsø (Copenhagen Business School, Denmark) – ssv.ioa@cbs.dk
Anne Beaulieu (Virtual Knowledge Studio, The Netherlands) – anne.beaulieu@vks.knaw.nl

Timeline
Deadline for submissions: 30 May 2009
Announcement of paper acceptance: end of June 2009
Deadline for full papers: 22 August 2009
Workshop: 2 October 2009