Synopses & Reviews
Science and technology have immense authority and influence in our society, yet their working remains little understood. The conventional perception of science in Western societies has been modified in recent years by the work of philosophers, sociologists and historians of science. In this book Bruno Latour brings together these different approaches to provide a lively and challenging analysis of science, demonstrating how social context and technical content are both essential to a proper understanding of scientific activity. Emphasizing that science can only be understood through its practice, the author examines science and technology in action: the role of scientific literature, the activities of laboratories, the institutional context of science in the modern world, and the means by which inventions and discoveries become accepted. From the study of scientific practice he develops an analysis of science as the building of networks. Throughout, Bruno Latour shows how a lively and realistic picture of science in action alters our conception of not only the natural sciences but also the social sciences and the sociology of knowledge in general.
This stimulating book, drawing on a wealth of examples from a wide range of scientific activities, will interest all philosophers, sociologists and historians of science, scientists and engineers, and students of the philosophy of social science and the sociology of knowledge.
One cannot but be impressed by the scope of Latour's work...This is no mere bricolage, but a coherent and powerful framework for research. I predict that Science in Action will have an impact comparable to Thomas Kuhn's Structure of Scientific Revolutions both as a provocation to philosophers and as an inspiration to sociologists and historians of science. Nicholas Jardine
This account of science as composed of drifting, recombining networks is presented with considerable charm and humour. There are many brief case histories to enliven the text, and the book works very well as a guide through scientific reasoning. Kirkus Reviews
Latour's Science in Action is a "must read" for all sociologists, not just because the sociology of science is a dynamic and growing subdiscipline, but more importantly because Latour's thesis challenges the notions that underlie sociologists' efforts to distinguish our field as a "science"...Latour's thesis is that science, including sociology, is collective action and that facticity is a consequence, not a cause, of collective action...An excellent and enjoyable introduction to the sociology of science. Times Literary Supplement
There is a wealth of material and some titillating insight into discoveries beginning with the framed race to find the structure of DNA--the double helix--and in Latour's hands, it becomes a true cliffhanger...This [book] will reward those who want to probe science and the modern world in depth. Joan H. Fujimura - Contemporary Sociology
Bruno Latour provides a lively and challenging analysis of science, demonstrating how social context and technical content are both essential to a proper understanding of scientific activity. Emphasizing that science can only be understood through its practice, the author examines science and technology in action: the role of scientific literature, the activities of laboratories, the institutional context of science in the modern world, and the means by which inventions and discoveries become accepted.
About the Author
Bruno Latour is Professor at Sciences Po, Paris and the 2013 winner of the Ludvig Holberg International Memorial Prize.
Sciences Po Paris
Table of Contents
Introduction Opening Pandora's Black Box PART I FROM WEARER TO STRONGER RHETORIC
Chapter I Literature
Part A: Controversies
Part B: When controversies flare up the literature becomes technical
Part C: Writing texts that withstand the assaults of a hostile environment
Conclusion: Numbers, more numbers
Chapter 2 Laboratories
Part A: From texts to things: A showdown
Part B: Building up counter-laboratories
Part C: Appealing (to) nature
PART II FROM WEAR POINTS TO STRONGHOLDS
Chapter 3 Machines
Introduction: The quandary of the fact-builder
Part A: Translating interests
Part B: Keeping the interested groups in line
Part C: The model of diffusion versus the model of translation
Chapter 4 Insiders Out
Part A: Interesting others in the laboratories
Part B: Counting allies and resources
PART III FROM SHORT TO LONGER NETWORKS
Chapter 5 Tribunals of Reason
Part A: The trials of rationality
Part B: Sociologics
Part C: Who needs hard facts?
Chapter 6 Centres of calculation
Prologue: The domestication of the savage mind
Part A: Action at a distance
Part B: Centres of calculation
Part C: Metrologies