• Researching Collaborative Interdisciplinary Teams: Practices and Principles for Navigating Researcher Positionality (2019-11-05)
    Rebecca Freeth Leuphana University Ulli Vilsmaier

    Collaborative interdisciplinary research is on the rise but can be difficult and daunting. There is much to learn by studying the inner workings of collaboration, to the potential benefit of both science and technology studies (STS) and those who collaborate. We have been studying the inner workings of a collaborative interdisciplinary team using formative accompanying research (FAR). Assuming multiple insider-outsider vantage points implied adopting dynamic positionality in relation to the team. In this article, we outline an approach to navigating positionality based on these research experiences. Navigation is aided by identifying learning orientations to a collaborative team, to learn about, with or for the team; and by adopting practices and principles to balance i) observation and participation; ii) curiosity and care; and iii) impartiality and investment. We illustrate what we have learned so far, demonstrating how to apply these navigating instruments so that the skilful use of FAR positionality can advance the understanding and practice of collaborative interdisciplinary research.

  • Love and Fear? (2020-08-11)
    Lisa Lindén Department of Sociology and Work Science, University of Gothenburg

    Social media are increasingly envisioned by public health authorities as a new promising arena for public engagement. Against this backdrop, this article attends to how citizens confirm, debate and resist governmental framings of health information online. By drawing upon STS and affect theory, it centers on the digital mediation of feelings on a Facebook engagement site for HPV vaccination. While the public authorities framed HPV vaccination as a matter of love and fear, a wide register of positive and negative feelings were mediated on the site. The article proposes the notion of ‘digitalised literary devices’ to analyse how mundane literary habits, such as the use of punctuation, online have been transformed to digital devices that, for instance, mediate public feelings. By conceptualizing public engagement as ‘civic intensities’, it shows how digital devices, such as digitalised literary devices, mediate and intensify public feelings of engagement.

  • Science Blogs as Critique — Building Public Identities in the Field of Translational Research (2020-08-11)
    Barbara Hendriks Humboldt-University Berlin, German Centre for Higher Education Research and Science Studies Martin Reinhart Humboldt-University Berlin, German Centre for Higher Education Research and Science Studies

    Clinician scientists are pivotal figures in translational research. Although the discourse on translational research is favorable to clinician scientists, their role within it and their view of themselves has received little attention. In this exploratory study, we analyze the view of clinician scientists on translational research by drawing on surveillance studies and the pragmatic sociology of critique and examining the potential for critique of science blogs. From analyzing science blogs and the blogging selves they represent, we find a fundamental dilemma of being torn between the two worlds of clinic and research. Although translational research seeks to support clinician scientists, it intensifies this conflict even further. The arguments of clinician scientist-bloggers are emotionally charged with feelings of contradiction, unpredictability, and skepticism. These feelings undergird a critical agenda that shows indignation as the result of being a pivotal figure in the discourse on translational research.

  • New Bikes for the Old: Materialisations of active ageing (2019-09-26)
    Aske Juul Lassen University of Copenhagen Tiago Moreira

    In the last 15 years, STS has established a research programme focused on the sociotechnical reconfiguration of later life, particularly as new political programmes aim to deploy ‘active ageing’ in contemporary societies. In Denmark, the bicycle is a key technology in this aim, because of how it articulates sustainable living, health and social participation. Thus, two new ‘inclusive cycling’ initiatives for older people have been developed. Drawing on ethnographic data, we explore the ways the bikes differ, and how they explicitly mobilise active ageing as a form of ‘good old age’ in different ways. We argue that whereas ‘Cycling without Age’ rickshaws attempt to assemble social participation for older people, ‘Duo-Bikes’ aim to enable capacities through physical activity in later life. We further explore what happens when these two schemes meet, and suggest how searching for a compromise will be necessary to enhance opportunities to cycle in later life.


  • Is the Patent System the Way Forward with the CRISPR-Cas 9 Technology? (2020-01-15)
    Franc Mali University of Ljubljana

    CRISPR-Cas9 technology is reshaping the way scientists conduct research in genetic engineering. It is predicted to revolutionise not only the fields of medicine, biology, agriculture and industry but, much like all revolutionary technologies of the past, the way humans live. Given the anticipated and already seen benefits of CRISPR-Cas 9 in different areas of human life, this new technology may be defined as a true breakthrough scientific discovery. The article presents several challenges connected with various dimensions of the CRISPR-Cas 9 patent landscape. The central argument is that today the biggest challenge is finding a intermediary way that ensures a balance between providing sufficient openness for the further progress of basic research in CRISPR-Cas 9 such as ‘niche’ areas of the latest genetic engineering and adequate intellectual property rights to incentivise its commercialisation and application. The article contends the endeavours by academic scientific institutions to arrive at short-term benefits of the new CRISPR-Cas 9 technology do not constitute such an intermediary way, especially when the CRISPR-Cas 9 patent landscape is viewed as part of a series of controversial bioethical discussions that have been underway for over 40 years.

  • Public Discourse on Stem Cell Research in Russia (2020-02-19)
    Valentina Polyakova National Research University Higher School of Economics Konstantin Fursov National Research University Higher School of Economics Thomas Thurner National Research University Higher School of Economics

    This paper studies the evolution of the media discussion surrounding stem cell research in Russia from 2001 until the issuance of the first national law in 2016 and its impact on stem cell’s ‘social career’ in the public discourse in Russia. It analyses how the interaction of different media frames stigmatized either the biomedical technology, or the expert community. It is argued that the regulatory framework in Russia lags behind technological developments in the country and mostly reacts to signs of fraudulent actions from drug makers or practitioners. Moral issues, in contrast to the international discourse, have been not the main reason in Russia.


  • What is 'Cosmic' about Urban Climate Politics? (2020-03-10)
    Anders Blok

    While Bruno Latour's criticism of Ulrich Beck's cosmopolitanism helped set the stage 15 years ago for the highly productive research approach of cosmopolitics, including as concerns urban ecological politics, a nagging doubt remains that more blood was spilled than necessary in the exchange. In this short discussion piece, I re-stage the Latour-Beck debate as part of on-going inquiries into the more-than-human politics of climate adaptation in Copenhagen, exploring what exact senses of 'cosmos' might be helpful in making sense of this increasingly common-place situation. At issue, I suggest, is the question of what it means to say that ‘natures’, in the plural, are put at stake in such settings. Far from any synthesis, in turn, I conclude that scholars in STS and beyond might do well to extend a shared hesitation towards both sides of the debate - cosmopolitics, cosmopolitanism - and thus take the opportunity to share unresolved conceptual tensions in the service of posing better problems.