Archives For David Hess

Author Information: Joshua Penrod, Virginia Tech, jmpenrod@vt.edu

Penrod, Joshua. 2013. “Has the Time Come for New Starting Points? Reply to David Hess’ ‘Neoliberalism and the history of STS Theory: Toward a Reflexive Sociology'” Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 2 (12): 1-6.

The PDF of the article gives specific page numbers. Shortlink: http://wp.me/p1Bfg0-16T

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A certain man once made a virulent attack on another man for falsely assuming the title of philosopher more in order to satisfy his overweening pride than to practice virtue, and added that he would accept that the title was justified if the man could suffer attacks upon him with patience and composure. For a time he did assume patience and after accepting the insults asked with a sneer whether the other now agreed that he was a philosopher. ‘I would,’ came the reply, ‘if you had not spoken’ (Boethius 2003, 43).

Introduction

In Neoliberalism and the History of STS Theory: Toward a Reflexive Sociology, David Hess (2013) paints a picture of Science and Technology Studies (STS) as a path toward critical understanding of the linkages between “neoliberalism” and science and technology. Indeed, for this approach, STS would be uniquely situated in offering up interdisciplinary insight relating to these linkages and could, therefore, provide better answers than other approaches. Hess’ summary of the history of the development of social thought within STS is an excellent one, and educates readers with a better understanding of how STS came of age as a field of inquiry and the current possibilities present within it for better understanding many of the critical issues the world currently faces. Some difficulties still exist within this approach, as I will attempt to bring forward. The largest difficulty, as I see it, is the usage of “neoliberalism” as a starting point. Continue Reading…

Author Information: Philip R. Egert, Virginia Tech, pregert@vt.edu

Egert, Philip R. 2013. “A Conversation with David Hess about ‘Neoliberalism and the History of STS Theory’.” Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 2 (11): 7-12.

The PDF of the article gives specific page numbers. Shortlink: http://wp.me/p1Bfg0-12g

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Introduction

I begin this conversation with a rather extended caveat as it has some bearing on my reactions to David Hess’ “Neoliberalism and the History of STS Theory: Toward a Reflexive Sociology.”  I am a Ph.D. student in Virginia Tech’s Science and Technology in Society (STS) program in the Washington DC metro area, or as we like to say, the National Capital Region.  I purposefully chose STS as my personal foundation for a new knowledge and understanding about the world based not on the “S&T” component of STS, but for the “and Society” component.  As such, I am also what is known as a non-traditional student: a working professional who had not seen the inside of a classroom in more decades than I care to admit.

When I did find my way back to the classroom though I brought with me over 30 years of experience imposing science and technology on society both as that entrepreneur Hess writes about as well as a senior executive in a Fortune 50 corporation.   In these roles, I was both the victim and beneficiary of the social liberal and neoliberal constructions that are at the heart of Hess’ article.  Therefore, I have a unique perspective in having been an actor in both the subordinate and dominant networks, and have been both invisible and visible to the “implicit assumptions” Hess refers to.  Continue Reading…

Author Information: David J. Hess, Vanderbilt University, david.j.hess@vanderbilt.edu

Hess, David. 2013. “Reply to Libby Schweber’s Comments on ‘Neoliberalism and the History of STS Theory’, David J. Hess.” Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 2 (10): 32-37.

The PDF of the article gives specific page numbers. Shortlink: http://wp.me/p1Bfg0-10b

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I want to thank Schweber for developing a generous and thoughtful reply to what is, after all, only the beginning of a reflexive cultural analysis and field sociology of STS (science and technology studies). On rereading the essay, I can see that I might not have been as clear as I should have been, especially in interdisciplinary venue, about methods and disciplines, so I will begin with a few comments on these issues, perhaps less in direct reply to Schweber, who probably understands well these issues, and more for other readers of this exchange.

In an interdisciplinary field such as STS, there is always the possibility of “evidences invisibles” — or, as the English translation of a book of that title has it, “cultural misunderstandings” — that can occur across the disciplines. Perhaps one of the least visible and most misunderstood differences is that between anthropology and sociology, two fields that shared common points of reference in social theory and sometimes also live together in the same academic department. Having spent much of my career betwixt and between those disciplines, I am especially attuned to what each has to offer the other, and the tension in Bourdieu’s work between his anthropological and sociological voices is one of the great attractions that his work holds for me. Continue Reading…

Author Information: Libby Schweber, University of Reading, l.schweber@reading.ac.uk

Schweber, Libby. 2013. “Critical Reply to David Hess’ ‘Neoliberalism and the History of STS Theory: Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 2 (10): 7-11.

The PDF of the article gives specific page numbers. Shortlink: http://wp.me/p1Bfg0-Z2

Please refer to: Hess, David J. 2013. “Neoliberalism and the history of STS theory: Toward a reflexive sociology.” Social Epistemology 27 (2): 177-193.

Introduction

Hess’ article “Neoliberalism and the History of STS Theory: Toward a Reflexive Sociology” makes a strong bid “for a more integrated approach to the structure-agency-meaning triangle in STS via the use of field sociology.”  The paper uses the conceptual development of STS as a case study to exemplify this approach. As such, its aim is twofold, first to exemplify the application of field sociology and secondly to address a historical problem, namely, how did more structural and institutional approaches to the sociology of science come to be so marginal within STS. Continue Reading…