Below is a list of monographs and selected edited volumes by researchers and affiliates of MUSTS.
The Technical Condition. The Entanglement of Technology, Culture, and Society
Edited by Tsjalling Swierstra, Pieter Lemmens, Tamar Sharon and Pieter Vermaas
Technology has become an integral part of our lives, permeating virtually every dimension of our cultural, social and natural worlds. The Technical Condition, an accessible introduction to contemporary philosophy of technology, takes this entanglement of technology, culture and society as the starting point for philosophical and normative reflection. Is biotechnology forcing us to rethink fundamental concepts such as the natural and the artificial? How will governance by algorithms reshape our politics? Are we adapting our home environments to fit our smart appliances and voice assistants? Will a technology-driven Anthropocene presage the end of humanity? How can we evaluate new technologies if technology is also influencing our moral sense? Understanding these entanglements will help us to steer them in beneficial directions.
The Technical Condition convincingly demonstrates how technology, culture, and society affect each other in countless and unexpected ways, providing an impetus for philosophical reflection on one of the most important themes of our times. As such, it will appeal to students in the humanities, social sciences and engineering sciences.
The Necessity of Critique
The essays in this edited collection are inspired by Andrew Feenberg’s philosophy of technology. Feenberg is the leading critical theorist of technology working today, combining the critical traditions of Karl Marx, Martin Heidegger, Georg Lukáacs, and Herbert Marcuse with empirical methods from science & technology studies (STS) and media studies.
Divided into three parts, these contributions from philosophers, media theorists, design theorists, and STS scholars, reflect the relevancy of Feenberg’s philosophy for making sense of our technically mediated society. This collection appeals to students and researchers interested in the philosophy of technology, critical theory, smart cities, big data, AI, and algorithmic culture.
More information can be found on the website of Springer.
by Cyrus Mody
The MIT Press, 2022
In The Squares, Cyrus Mody shows how, between the late 1960s and the early 1980s, some scientists and engineers who did not consider themselves activists, New Leftists, or members of the counterculture accommodated their work to the rapidly changing social and political landscape of the time. These “square scientists,” Mody shows, began to do many of the things that the counterculture urged: turn away from military-industrial funding, become more interdisciplinary, and focus their research on solving problems of civil society. During the period Mody calls “the long 1970s,” ungroovy scientists were doing groovy science.
Mody offers a series of case studies of some of these collective efforts by non-activist scientists to use their technical knowledge for the good of society. He considers the region around Santa Barbara and the interplay of public universities, think tanks, established firms, new companies, philanthropies, and social movement organizations. He looks at Stanford University’s transition from Cold War science to commercialized technoscience; NASA’s search for a post-Apollo mission; the unsuccessful foray into solar energy by Nobel laureate Jack Kilby; the “civilianization” of the US semiconductor industry; and systems engineer Arthur D. Hall’s ill-fated promotion of automated agriculture.
More information can be found on the website of the MIT Press.
by Anna Harris & Tom Rice
University of Chicago Press, 2022
This book explores the colorful past, present, and future of an instrument that is, quite literally, close to our hearts. The stethoscope has become the symbol of medicine itself—how did this come to be? What makes the stethoscope such a familiar yet charismatic object? Drawing from a range of fields including history, anthropology, science, technology, and sound studies, the book illustrates the variety of roles the stethoscope has played over time. It shows that the stethoscope is not, and has never been, a single entity. It is used to a variety of ends, serves several purposes, and is open to many interpretations. This variability is the key to the stethoscope’s enduring presence in the medical and popular imagination.
More information can be found on the website of the University of Chicago Press.
edited by John Nott and Anna Harris, with special contributions by Rachel Vaden Allison, Harro van Lente, Candida F. Sanchez Burmester, Andrea Wojcik, and Sally Wyatt.
University of Chicago Press/Intellect Ltd, 2022
Medical knowledge manifests in materials, and materials are integral to the reproduction of medical knowledge. From the novice student to the expert practitioner, those who study and work in and around medicine rely on material guidance in their everyday practice and as they seek to further their craft. To that end, this edited collection brings together historians, anthropologists, educators, artists, and curators to explore the role of materiality in medical education.
With a broad temporal focus and international scope, the volume focuses on the materials, objects, tools, and technologies that facilitate the reproduction of medical knowledge and often also reify understandings of medical science. Experimental in form and supplemented with ethnographic, museological, and historical cases from around the world, this edited volume is the first to fully explore the matter of medical education in the modern world.
More information can be found on the website of the website of the University of Chicago Press.
A Sensory Education
A Sensory Education takes a close look at how sensory awareness is learned and taught in expert and everyday settings around the world. Anna Harris shows that our sensing is not innate or acquired, but in fact evolves through learning that is shaped by social and material relations. The chapters feature diverse sources of sensory education, including field manuals, mannequins, cookbooks and flavour charts. The examples range from medical training and forest bathing to culinary and perfumery classes. Offering a valuable guide to the uncanny and taken-for-granted ways in which adults are trained to improve their senses, this book will be of interest to disciplines including anthropology and sociology as well as food studies and sensory studies.
Now available in paperback. The Open Access version of this book, available at https://www.taylorfrancis.com/books/9781003084341 has been made available under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-No Derivatives 4.0 license.
More information can be found on the website of Routledge.
by Raf de Bont
University of Pittsburgh Press, 2021
Nature’s Diplomats explores the development of science-based and internationally conceived nature protection in its foundational years before the 1960s, the decade when it launched from obscurity onto the global stage. Raf De Bont studies a movement while it was still in the making and its groups were still rather small, revealing the geographies of the early international preservationist groups, their social composition, self-perception, ethos, and predilections, their ideals and strategies, and the natures they sought to preserve.
By examining international efforts to protect migratory birds, the threatened European bison, and the mountain gorilla in the interior of the Belgian Congo, Nature’s Diplomats sheds new light on the launch of major international organizations for nature protection in the aftermath of World War II. Additionally, it covers how the rise of ecological science, the advent of the Cold War, and looming decolonization forced a rethinking of approach and rhetoric; and how old ideas and practices lingered on. It provides much-needed historical context for present-day convictions about and approaches to the preservation of species and the conservation of natural resources, the involvement of local communities in conservation projects, the fate of extinct species and vanished habitats, and the management of global nature.
More information can be found on the website of the University of Pittsbergh Press.
Edited by Karin Bijsterveld
Uitgeverij Verloren, 2021
MUSTS has launched a public display exhibit, a book and postcards on Instruments for science and technology in Centre Céramique.
Since when do we have water- and gas-meters at home? How did the siren we hear at the first Monday of each month come about? What did old laboratory-instruments, such as the camera lucida or the cloud chamber, serve to investigate? How did doctors learn to listen with their stethoscopes and see with röntgen-images? Why do older people use different gestures for phones than younger generations? What makes an electric plug more than a plug?
Researchers of the MUSTS group adopted 23 scientific instruments and technical artefacts from the collection of Centre Céramique, a public library and cultural heritage centre in Maastricht. These include mundane objects too, such as a handdrill, bulb or a simple key. The instruments had remained in storage for years, but are now displayed at the centre—literally and figuratively, they were “unboxed” by the researchers. The instruments will be on display in groups: every two months, a window case positioned amidst books on science and technology will show a fresh group of instruments until all adopted instruments have had their turn.
The public exhibition display is accompanied by a book in Dutch and English, (published by Verloren, Hilversum, edited by Karin Bijsterveld and with pictures by Eric Bleize), which collects the short essays that MUSTS researchers wrote. In addition, free postcards with QR codes, referring recipients to the artefacts and stories, are distributed.
Edited by Sven Dupré, Anna Harris, Julia Kursell, Patricia Lulof, Maartje Stols-Witlox
Amsterdam University Press, 2020
Performative methods are playing an increasingly prominent role in research into historical production processes, materials, bodily knowledge and sensory skills, and in forms of education and public engagement in classrooms and museums. This book offers, for the first time, sustained, interdisciplinary reflections on performative methods, variously known as Reconstruction, Replication and Re-enactment (RRR) practices across the fields of history of science, archaeology, art history, conservation, musicology and anthropology. Each of these fields has distinct histories, approaches, tools and research questions. Researchers in the historical disciplines have used reconstructions to learn about the materials and practices of the past, while anthropologists and ethnographers have more often studied the re-enactments themselves, participating in these performances as engaged observers. In this book, authors bring their experiences of RRR practices within their discipline into conversation with RRR practices in other disciplines, providing a basis for interdisciplinary cross-fertilization.
More information can be found on the website of the Amsterdam University Press.
by Katleen Gabriëls
VUB Press, 2020
Facebook’s timeline, Google’s search engine, Amazon’s Alexa: much of our everyday technology contains artificial intelligence (AI). Vacuum-cleaning and lawn-mowing robots ease household chores. Chatbots conduct therapy sessions and algorithms assist doctors with medical decision-making. We can even delegate moral decisions to algorithms. The combination of robots and AI, together with big data, opens up endless possibilities. However, which decisions should be delegated to machines and which should not? And whom do AI self-learning systems learn from?
The time to ask ethical questions about design is right from the outset: every product made by humans is made with morality. This plea for ethical rules is just as relevant to robots and AI systems, as it is to data scientists, engineers and designers. Innovation is not only about technological progress, but also about recognising and taking a mindful approach to dealing with the moral choices that are an intrinsic part of technology.
Conscientious AI is an accessible must-read for those interested in the relation between morality and technology. Combining scholarly theory with examples drawn from everyday life, it is an excellent introductory textbook for undergraduate students in the fields of ethics and technology, business ethics and digital society. The original Dutch edition Regels voor robots was shortlisted for the Hypatia Prize, awarded by the Society for Women in Philosophy, and longlisted for the prestigious Socrates Cup.
More information can be found here.
by Ann Dooms & Katleen Gabriëls
Ghent Academia Press, 2020
In Van Melkweg tot moraal nemen Ann Dooms en Katleen Gabriels je mee op een ontdekkingsreis langs hun beide passies: wetenschap en ethiek. Het vertrekpunt is hun gedeelde verwondering over de plaats van de mens in het universum. Onderweg turen de auteurs niet enkel met ontzag omhoog naar de sterren, maar hebben ze ook oog voor maatschappelijke kwesties. Zo hebben ze aandacht voor vrouwelijke wetenschappers die ten onrechte ondergesneeuwd zijn geraakt in de geschiedenis.
Ways of Home Making in Care for Later Life.
Edited by Bernike Pasveer, Oddgeir Synnes and Ingunn Moser
Palgrave Macmillan, 2020.
This is a book on how home is made when care enters the lives of people as they grow old at home or in ‘homely’ institutions. Throughout the book, contributors show how home is a verb: it is something people do. Home is thus always in the making, temporal, contested, and open to negotiation and experimentation. By bringing together approaches from STS, anthropology, health humanities and health care studies, the book points to the importance of people’s tinkerings and experiments with making home, as it is here that home is being made and unmade.
More information can be found on the website of Palgrave Macmillan.
Planning for the Planet: Environmental Expertise and the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, 1960–1980.
By Simone Schleper
During the 1960s and 1970s, rapidly growing environmental awareness and concern created unprecedented demand for ecological expertise and novel challenges for ecological advocacy groups such as the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN). This book reveals how, despite their vast scientific knowledge and their attempts to incorporate socially relevant themes, IUCN experts inevitably struggled to make global schemes for nature conservation a central concern for UNESCO, UNEP and other intergovernmental organizations.
More information can be found on the website of Berghahn Books.
Sonic Skills: Listening for Knowledge in Science, Medicine and Engineering (1920s- present).
By Karin Bijsterveld
Palgrave Macmillan, 2019.
This open access book explains why listening for knowledge plays an ambiguous, if fascinating, role in the sciences. For what purposes have scientists, engineers and physicians listened to the objects of their interest? How did they listen exactly? And why has listening often been contested as a legitimate form of access to scientific knowledge? This concise monograph combines historical and ethnographic evidence about the practices of listening on shop floors, in laboratories, field stations, hospitals, and conference halls, between the 1920s and today.
Synthetic monograph about the Sonic Skills project, available as an open access publication since 2018.
The entire monograph is available for download here.
Listening in the Field: Recording and the Science of Birdsong
By Joeri Bruyninckx
MIT Press, 2018.
The transformation of sound recording into a scientific technique in the study of birdsong, as biologists turned wildlife sounds into scientific objects.
Scientific observation and representation tend to be seen as exclusively visual affairs. But scientists have often drawn on sensory experiences other than the visual. Since the end of the nineteenth century, biologists have used a variety of techniques to register wildlife sounds. In this book, Joeri Bruyninckx describes the evolution of sound recording into a scientific technique for studying the songs and calls of wild birds and asks, what it means to listen to animal voices as a scientist.
The practice of recording birdsong took shape at the intersection of popular entertainment and field ornithology, turning recordings into objects of investigation and popular fascination. Shaped by the technologies and interests of amateur naturalism and music teaching, radio broadcasting and gramophone production, hobby electronics and communication engineering, birdsong recordings traveled back and forth between scientific and popular domains, to appear on gramophone recordings, radio broadcasts, and movie soundtracks.
Bruyninckx follows four technologies—the musical score, the electric microphone, the portable magnetic tape recorder, and the sound spectrograph—through a cultural history of field recording and scientific listening. He chronicles a period when verbal descriptions, musical notations, and onomatopoeic syllables represented birdsong and shaped a community of listeners; later electric recordings struggled with notions of fidelity, realism, objectivity, and authenticity; scientists, early citizen scientists, and the recording industry negotiated recording exchange; and trained listeners complemented the visual authority of spectrographic laboratory analyses. This book reveals a scientific process fraught with conversions, between field and laboratory, sound and image, science and its various audiences.
For more information and ordering, see MIT Press.
Emerging Technologies for Diagnosing Alzheimer’s Disease: Innovating with Care
Edited by Marianne Boenink, Harro van Lente and Ellen Moors
Palgrave MacMillan, 2016.
This book explores international biomedical research and development on the early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease. It offers timely, multidisciplinary reflections on the social and ethical issues raised by promises of early diagnostics and asks under which conditions emerging diagnostic technologies can be considered a responsible innovation.
The initial chapters in this edited volume provide an overview and a critical discussion of recent developments in biomedical research on Alzheimer’s disease. Subsequent contributions explore the values at stake in current practices of dealing with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, both within and outside the biomedical domain. Novel diagnostic technologies for Alzheimer’s disease emerge in a complex and shifting field, full of controversies. Innovating with care requires a precise mapping of how concepts, values and responsibilities are filled in through the confrontation of practices. In doing so, the volume offers a practice-based approach of responsible innovation that is also applicable to other fields of innovation.
For more information and ordering, see Palgrave MacMillan.
The Long Arm of Moore’s Law: Microelectronics and American Science
By Cyrus C.M. Mody
MIT Press, 2016.
Since the mid 1960s, American science has undergone significant changes in the way it is organized, funded, and practiced. These changes include the decline of basic research by corporations; a new orientation toward the short-term and the commercial, with pressure on universities and government labs to participate in the market; and the promotion of interdisciplinarity. In this book, Cyrus Mody argues that the changes in American science that began in the 1960s co-evolved with and were shaped by the needs of the “civilianized” US semiconductor industry.
In 1965, Gordon Moore declared that the most profitable number of circuit components that can be crammed on a single silicon chip doubles every year. Mody views “Moore’s Law” less as prediction than as self-fulfilling prophecy, pointing to the enormous investments of capital, people, and institutions the semiconductor industry required—the “long arm” of Moore’s Law that helped shape all of science.
Mody offers a series of case studies in microelectronics that illustrate the reach of Moore’s Law. He describes the pressures on Stanford University’s electrical engineers during the Vietnam era, IBM’s exploration of alternatives to semiconductor technology, the emergence of consortia to integrate research across disciplines and universities, and the interwoven development of the the molecular electronics community and associated academic institutions as the vision of a molecular computer informed the restructuring of research programs.
For more information and ordering, see MIT Press.
CyberGenetics: Health Genetics and New Media
By Anna Harris, Susan Kelly and Sally Wyatt
Online genetic testing services are increasingly being offered to consumers who are becoming exposed to, and knowledgeable about, new kinds of genetic technologies, as the launch of a 23andme genetic testing product in the UK testifies. Genetic research breakthroughs, cheek swabbing forensic pathologists and celebrities discovering their ancestral roots are littered throughout the North American, European and Australasian media landscapes. Genetic testing is now capturing the attention, and imagination, of hundreds of thousands of people who can not only buy genetic tests online, but can also go online to find relatives, share their results with strangers, sign up for personal DNA-based musical scores, and take part in research. This book critically examines this market of direct-to-consumer (DTC) genetic testing from a social science perspective, asking, what happens when genetics goes online?
With a focus on genetic testing for disease, the book is about the new social arrangements which emerge when a traditionally clinical practice (genetic testing) is taken into new spaces (the internet). It examines the intersections of new genetics and new media by drawing from three different fields: internet studies; the sociology of health; and science and technology studies.
While there has been a surge of research activity concerning DTC genetic testing, particularly in sociology, ethics and law, this is the first scholarly monograph on the topic, and the first book which brings together the social study of genetics and the social study of digital technologies. This book thus not only offers a new overview of this field, but also offers a unique contribution by attending to the digital, and by drawing upon empirical examples from our own research of DTC genetic testing websites (using online methods) and in-depth interviews in the United Kingdom with people using healthcare services.
For more information and ordering, see Routledge.
Building Musical Culture in Nineteenth-Century Amsterdam: The Concertgebouw
By Darryl Cressman
Amsterdam University Press, 2016.
When people attend classical music concerts today, they sit and listen in silence, offering no audible reactions to what they’re hearing. We think of that as normal-but, as Darryl Cressman shows in this book, it’s the product of a long history of interrelationships between music, social norms, and technology. Using the example of Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw in the nineteenth century, Cressman shows how its design was in part intended to help discipline and educate concert audiences to listen attentively – and analysis of its creation and use offers rich insights into sound studies, media history, science and technology studies, classical music, and much more.
For more information and ordering, see Amsterdam University Press.
Stations in the Field: A History of Place-Based Animal Research, 1870-1930
By Raf de Bont
University of Chicago Press, 2014.
When we think of sites of animal research that symbolize modernity, the first places that come to mind are grand research institutes in cities and near universities that house the latest in equipment and technologies, not the surroundings of the bird’s nest, the octopus’s garden in the sea, or the parts of inland lakes in which freshwater plankton reside. Yet during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, a group of zoologists began establishing novel, indeed modern ways of studying nature, propagating what present-day ecologists describe as place-based research.
Raf De Bont’s Stations in the Field focuses on the early history of biological field stations and the role these played in the rise of zoological place-based research. Beginning in the 1870s, a growing number of biological field stations were founded—first in Europe and later elsewhere around the world—and thousands of zoologists received their training and performed their research at these sites. Through case studies, De Bont examines the material and social context in which field stations arose, the actual research that was produced in these places, the scientific claims that were developed there, and the rhetorical strategies that were deployed to convince others that these claims made sense. From the life of parasitic invertebrates in northern France and freshwater plankton in Schleswig-Holstein, to migratory birds in East Prussia and pest insects in Belgium, De Bont’s book is fascinating tour through the history of studying nature in nature.
For more information and ordering, see University of Chicago Press.
Sound and Safe: A History of Listening Behind the Wheel
By Karin Bijsterveld, Eefje Cleophas, Stefan Krebs and Gijs Mom
Oxford University Press, 2014.
Unravels an aspect of life-listening while driving-that is an everyday reality for millions of people.
Explains how and why the car has become such an important place for finding auditory privacy.
Puts readers behind the scenes at international standardization committees and automotive test benches.
Includes over fifty beautiful period images.
Includes a YouTube discussion, analyzing automotive commercials.
For more information and ordering, see Oxford University Press.
Vulnerability in Technological Cultures
Edited by Anique Hommels, Jessica Mesman & Wiebe E. Bijker
MIT Press, 2014.
Novel technologies and scientific advancements offer not only opportunities but risks. Technological systems are vulnerable to human error and technical malfunctioning that have far-reaching consequences: one flipped switch can cause a cascading power failure across a networked electric grid. Yet, once addressed, vulnerability accompanied by coping mechanisms may yield a more flexible and resilient society. This book investigates vulnerability, in both its negative and positive aspects, in technological cultures. The contributors argue that viewing risk in terms of vulnerability offers a novel approach to understanding the risks and benefits of science and technology. Such an approach broadens conventional risk analysis by connecting to issues of justice, solidarity, and livelihood, and enabling comparisons between the global north and south.
The book explores case studies that range from agricultural practices in India to neonatal intensive care medicine in Western hospitals; these cases, spanning the issues addressed in the book, illustrate what vulnerability is and does. The book offers conceptual frameworks for empirical description and analysis of vulnerability that elucidate its ambiguity, context dependence, and constructed nature. Finally, the book addresses the implications of these analyses for the governance of vulnerability, proposing a more reflexive way of dealing with vulnerability in technological cultures.
Marjolein van Asselt, Martin Boeckhout, Wiebe Bijker, Tessa Fox, Stephen Healy, Anique Hommels, Sheila Jasanoff, Jozef Keulartz, Jessica Mesman, Ger Palmboom, C. Shambu Prasad, Julia Quartz, Johan M. Sanne, Maartje Schermer, Teesta Setelvad, Esha Shah, Andy Stirling, Imrat Verhoeven, Esther Versluis, Shiv Visvanathan, Gerard de Vries, Ger Wackers, Dick Willems
For more information and ordering, see MIT Press.
The Making of Europe’s Critical Infrastructure – Common Connections and Shared Vulnerabilities
Edited by Per Högselius, Anique Hommels, Arne Kaijser and Erik van der Vleuten
Palgrave MacMillan, 2013.
Europe’s critical infrastructure is a key concern to policymakers, NGOs, companies, and citizens today. A 2006 power line failure in northern Germany closed lights in Portugal in a matter of seconds. Several Russian-Ukrainian gas crises shocked politicians, entrepreneurs, and citizens thousands of kilometers away in Germany, France, and Italy. This book argues that present-day infrastructure vulnerabilities resulted from choices of infrastructure builders in the past. It inquires which, and whose, vulnerabilities they perceived, negotiated, prioritized, and inscribed in Europe’s critical infrastructure. It does not take ‘Europe’ for granted, but actively investigates which countries and peoples were historically connected in joint interdependency, and why. In short, this collection unravels the simultaneous historical shaping of infrastructure, common vulnerabilities, and Europe.
For more information and ordering, see MacMillan.
The Oxford Handbook of Sound Studies
Edited by Trevor Pinch and Karin Bijsterveld
Oxford University Press, 2013.
Written by the world’s leading scholars and researchers in the emerging field of sound studies, The Oxford Handbook of Sound Studies offers new and fully engaging perspectives on the significance of sound in its material and cultural forms. The book considers sounds and music as experienced in such diverse settings as shop floors, laboratories, clinics, design studios, homes, and clubs, across an impressively broad range of historical periods and national and cultural contexts.
Rich in vivid and detailed examples and compelling case studies, and featuring a companion website of listening samples, this remarkable volume boldly challenges readers to rethink the way they hear and understand the world.
The Handbook can be ordered at, amongst others, Amazon.
Ethics on the laboratory floor
Edited by Simone van der Burg and Tsjalling Swierstra
Palgrave MacMillan, 2013.
People nowadays live in a human-made environment, or technotope. Their lives are entangled with technology. Because technology not only brings gifts but also costs and hazards, it is important to reflect on what good technology is and, indeed, whether a technology contributes to a good life.
The ethicists and social scientists united in this volume contribute to a novel approach to ethics and technology that initiates or enhances timely ethical reflection with scientists and engineers. Ethical reflection during research and development can help to anticipate how it can change human (social) like, and evaluate those changes. Ethics on the Laboratory Floor contributes to research decisions, for example with regard to what research goals to pursue, what research lines to prioritise, or how best to design user tests. By joining these deliberations Ethics on the Laboratory Floor helps to realise the best technological alternatives.
The book can be ordered at MacMillan.
Klankwerelden. De twintigste eeuw van Reinbert de Leeuw
By Peter Peters
Leiden University Press
Worlds of sound is important for everyone who is interested in listening to music of the 20th century or for anyone involved in studying or performing contemporary music. The central question is how to interpret music in case the performer is not willing to depend on personal taste or conventions. How much must a performer know of the context in which the composer writes his/her music? How is the right tempo chosen and how is the music articulated in time? How does the performer establish a rendering of the composer’s ideal sound? How does the performer relate to music history? These questions will be addressed in view of works by Arnold Schönberg, Igor Stravinsky, Erik Satie, Olivier Messiaen, Pierre Boulez, György Kurtág, Galina Oestvolskaja, Claude Vivier, Mauricio Kagel and Reinbert de Leeuw himself. De Leeuw’s views on the performance practice of especially 20th century music have been widely covered in the media, but this is the first time that his ideas and understanding of performance practice and memories of collaborations with leading composers appear in the form of a book. They were taken from a series of seminars Reinbert de Leeuw (professor at Leiden University) presented at the Leiden University Academy of Creative and Performing Arts and the Orpheus Institute in Ghent.
The book can be ordered at Leiden University Press.
Greening Berlin : The co-production of science, politics and urban nature
By Jens Lachmund
MIT University Press, 2013.
Although nature conservation has traditionally focused on the countryside, issues of biodiversity protection also appear on the political agendas of many cities. One of the emblematic examples of this now worldwide trend has been the German city of Berlin, where, since the 1970s, urban planning has been complemented by a systematic policy of “biotope protection”—at first only in the walled city island of West Berlin, but subsequently across the whole of the reunified capital. In Greening Berlin, Jens Lachmund uses the example of Berlin to examine the scientific and political dynamics that produced this change.
The book can be ordered at MIT Press.
The social construction of technological systems – New directions in the sociology and history of technology
Edited by Wiebe E. Bijker, Thomas P. Hughes and Trevor Pinch
MIT University Press, 2012.
This pioneering book, first published in 1987, launched the new field of social studies of technology. It introduced a method of inquiry–social construction of technology, or SCOT–that became a key part of the wider discipline of science and technology studies. The book helped the MIT Press shape its STS list and inspired the Inside Technology series. The thirteen essays in the book tell stories about such varied technologies as thirteenth-century galleys, eighteenth-century cooking stoves, and twentieth-century missile systems. Taken together, they affirm the fruitfulness of an approach to the study of technology that gives equal weight to technical, social, economic, and political questions, and they demonstrate the illuminating effects of the integration of empirics and theory. The approaches in this volume–collectively called SCOT (after the volume’s title) have since broadened their scope, and twenty-five years after the publication of this book, it is difficult to think of a technology that has not been studied from a SCOT perspective and impossible to think of a technology that cannot be studied that way.
This Anniversary Edition can be ordered at MIT Press.
Virtual Knowledge – Experimenting in the Humanities and the Social Sciences
Edited by Paul Wouters, Anne Beaulieu, Andrea Scharnhorst and Sally Wyatt
MIT University Press, 2010.
Today we are witnessing dramatic changes in the way scientific and scholarly knowledge is created, codified, and communicated. This transformation is connected to the use of digital technologies and the virtualization of knowledge. In this book, scholars from a range of disciplines consider just what, if anything, is new when knowledge is produced in new ways. Does knowledge itself change when the tools of knowledge acquisition, representation, and distribution become digital?
Issues of knowledge creation and dissemination go beyond the development and use of new computational tools. The book, which draws on work from the Virtual Knowledge Studio, brings together research on scientific practice, infrastructure, and technology. Focusing on issues of digital scholarship in the humanities and social sciences, the contributors discuss who can be considered legitimate knowledge creators, the value of “invisible” labor, the role of data visualization in policy making, the visualization of uncertainty, the conceptualization of openness in scholarly communication, data floods in the social sciences, and how expectations about future research shape research practices. The contributors combine an appreciation of the transformative power of the virtual with a commitment to the empirical study of practice and use.
The book can be ordered at MIT Press.
The paradox of scientific authority: The role of scientific advice in democracies
By Wiebe E. Bijker, Roland Bal and Ruud Hendriks
MIT University Press, 2009.
Today, scientific advice is asked for (and given) on questions ranging from stem-cell research to genetically modified food. And yet it often seems that the more urgently scientific advice is solicited, the more vigorously scientific authority is questioned by policy makers, stakeholders, and citizens. This book examines a paradox: how scientific advice can be influential in society even when the status of science and scientists seems to be at a low ebb. The authors do this by means of an ethnographic study of the creation of scientific authority at one of the key sites for the interaction of science, policy, and society: the scientific advisory committee.
The Paradox of Scientific Authority offers a detailed analysis of the inner workings of the influential Health Council of the Netherlands (the equivalent of the National Academy of Science in the United States), examining its societal role as well as its internal functioning and using the findings to build a theory of scientific advising. The question of scientific authority has political as well as scholarly relevance. Democratic political institutions, largely developed in the nineteenth century, lack the institutional means to address the twenty-first century’s pervasively scientific and technological culture; and science and technology studies (S&TS) grapples with the central question of how to understand the authority of science while recognizing its socially constructed nature.
This book, part of the Inside Technologyseries, can be ordered at MIT Press.
Unbuilding cities: Obduracy in urban sociotechnical change
By Anique Hommels
MIT University Press, 2008.
City planning initiatives and redesign of urban structures often become mired in debate and delay. Despite the fact that cities are considered to be dynamic and flexible spaces—never finished but always under construction—it is very difficult to change existing urban structures; they become fixed, obdurate, securely anchored in their own histories as well as in the histories of their surroundings.
In Unbuilding Cities, Anique Hommels looks at the tension between the malleability of urban space and its obduracy, focusing on sites and structures that have been subjected to “unbuilding”—redesign or reconfiguration. She brings the concepts of science and technology studies (STS) to bear on the study of cities. Viewing the city as a large sociotechnological artifact, she demonstrates the usefulness of STS tools that were developed to analyze other technological artifacts and explores in detail the role of obduracy in sociotechnical change. Her analysis distinguishes three concepts of obduracy: interactionist, in which actors with diverging views are constrained by fixed ways of thinking and interacting; relational, in which change is difficult because of technology’s embeddedness in sociotechnical networks; and enduring, in which persistent traditions influence the development of technology over time.
Hommels examines the tensions between obduracy and change in three urban redesign projects in the Netherlands: a renovated city center that fell into drabness and disrepair; a highway system that runs through a densely populated urban area; and a high-rise housing project, designed according to modernist precepts and built for middle-class families, that became a haven for unemployment and crime. Unbuilding Cities contributes to a productive fusion of STS and urban studies.
This book can be ordered at MIT Press.
Uncertainty in medical innovation: Experienced pioneers in neonatal care
By Jessica Mesman
Palgrave MacMillan, 2008.
The Neonatal Intensive Care Unit is a site where hi-tech medicine and vulnerable human beings come into close contact. Focusing on a number of medical and ethical challenges encountered by staff and parents, this book provides a new perspective on the complexity of these treatments and the inventiveness of those involved.
This book, winner of the British Sociology Association’s Sociology of Health and Illness Prize, can be ordered at MacMillan.
Mechanical Sound: Technology, Culture, and Public Problems of Noise in the Twentieth Century
By Karin Bijsterveld
MIT University Press, 2008.
Since the late nineteenth century, the sounds of technology have been the subject of complaints, regulation, and legislation. By the early 1900s, antinoise leagues in Western Europe and North America had formed to fight noise from factories, steam trains, automobiles, and gramophones, with campaigns featuring conferences, exhibitions, and “silence weeks.” And, as Karin Bijsterveld points out in Mechanical Sound, public discussion of noise has never died down and continues today. In this book, Bijsterveld examines the persistence of noise on the public agenda, looking at four episodes of noise and the public response to it in Europe and the United States between 1875 and 1975: industrial noise, traffic noise, noise from neighborhood radios and gramophones, and aircraft noise. She also looks at a twentieth-century counterpoint to complaints about noise: the celebration of mechanical sound in avant-garde music composed between the two world wars. Bijsterveld argues that the rise of noise from new technology combined with overlapping noise regulations created what she calls a “paradox of control.” Experts and politicians promised to control some noise, but left other noise problems up to citizens. Aircraft noise, for example, measured in formulas understandable only by specialists, was subject to public regulation; the sounds of noisy neighborhoods were the responsibility of residents themselves. In addition, Bijsterveld notes, the spatial character of anti-noise interventions that impose zones and draw maps, despite the ability of sound to cross borders and boundaries, has helped keep noise a public problem. We have tried to create islands of silence, she writes, yet we have left a sea of sounds to be fiercely discussed.
The book can be ordered at, amongst others, Amazon.
Of Bicycles, Bakelites, and Bulbs: Toward a Theory of Sociotechnical Change
By Wiebe E. Bijker
MIT University Press, 1997.
This book crystallizes and extends the important work Wiebe Bijker has done in the last decade to found a full-scale theory of sociotechnical change that describes where technologies come from and how societies deal with them. Of Bicycles, Bakelites, and Bulbs integrates detailed case studies with theoretical generalizations and political analyses to offer a fully rounded treatment both of the relations between technology and society and of the issues involved in sociotechnical change.
The stories of the the safety bicycle, the first truly synthetic plastic, and the fluorescent light bulb – each a fascinating case study in itself – reflect a cross section of time periods, engineering and scientific disciplines, and economic, social, and political cultures. The bicycle story explores such issues as the role of changing gender relationships in shaping a technology; the Bakelite story examines the ways in which social factors intrude even in cases of seemingly pure chemistry and entrepreneurship; and the fluorescent bulb story offers insights into the ways in which political and economic relationships can affect the form of a technology.
Bijker’s method is to use these case studies to suggest theoretical concepts that serve as building blocks in a more and more inclusive theory, which is then tested against further case studies. His main concern is to create a basis for science, technology, and social change that uncovers the social roots of technology, making it amenable to democratic politics.
The book can be ordered by MIT Press.
Shaping Technology/Building Society – Studies in Sociotechnical Change
By Wiebe E. Bijker
MIT University Press, 1994.
Technology is everywhere, yet a theory of technology and its social dimension remains to be fully developed. Building on the influential book The Social Construction of Technological Systems, this volume carries forward the project of creating a theory of technological development and implementation that is strongly grounded in both sociology and history. The 12 essays address the central question of how technologies become stabilized, how they attain a final form and use that is generally accepted. The essays are tied together by a general introduction, part introductions, and a theoretical conclusion.
The first part of the book examines and criticizes the idea that technologies have common life cycles; three case studies cover the history of a successful but never produced British jet fighter, the manipulation of patents by a French R&D company to gain a market foothold, and the managed development of high-intensity fluorescent lighting to serve the interests of electricity suppliers as well as the producing company.
The second part looks at broader interactions shaping technology and its social context: the question of who was to define “steel,” the determination of what constitutes radioactive waste and its proper disposal, and the social construction of motion pictures as exemplified by Thomas Edison’s successful development of the medium and its commercial failure.
The last part offers theoretical studies suggesting alternative approaches to sociotechnologies; two studies argue for a strong sociotechnology in which artifact and social context are viewed as a single seamless web, while the third looks at the ways in which a social program is a technology.
The book can be ordered at MIT Press.