The period after the Second World War saw the recognition of science as a “social problem”. Academics became interested and started exploring the relationship between science, technology and society, which resulted in a new academic field – Science and Technology Studies (STS). This “social” study of science essentially looks at (1) the nature and practices of science and technology, and (2) the impact of science and technology on society (and vice-versa).
The rise of STS as an academic field was aided by the founding of the Society for the Social Studies of Science (4S) in 1975. This Society was instrumental in the 1977 publication of Science, Technology and Society: A Cross Disciplinary Perspective, edited by two of the foremost STS scholars then – Ina Spiegel-Rosing and Derek de Solla Price.
Less than two decades later, Sheila Jasanoff, Gerald E. Markle, James C. Petersen & Trevor Pinch edited a revised edition, Handbook of Science and Technology Studies in 1995. This volume addressed the traditional as well as contemporary issues, keeping in touch with the rapidly evolving nature of the field. The next edition of the Handbook was edited by Edward J. Hackett, Olga Amsterdamska, Michael E. Lynch and Judy Wajcman in 2007. This comprehensive publication reviewed dominant theoretical perspectives from a range of disciplines such as as anthropology, history, philosophy, sociology, law, political science, feminist and critical theory, and literary studies. The New Handbook of Science and Technology Studies, the third in the series sponsored by the Society for Social Studies of Science, has also helped define the field of Science and Technology Studies.
In late 2012, Ulrike Felt, Rayvon Fouché, Clark Miller and Laurel Smith-Doerr reached out to the STS community to collectively reflect on a new, fourth edition of the Handbook. This edition has contributions from a wider geography than previous editions and has already created excitement among STS scholars at annual 4S meetings in San Diego (2013) and Buenos Aires (2014). The fourth edition is expected to be launched at the annual 4S conference in Boston in 2017, appearing exactly forty years after the first edition.
Yelena Gluzman spoke to the editors and obtained a sneak peek into the Table of Contents of the upcoming fourth edition of the STS Handbook. The launch of this updated edition is an invitation for all STS scholars to reflect on the relevance of the field for other disciplines and for tackling the many challenges confronting society today.
Have you read any of the previous STS handbooks? What are your expectations for the 4th edition?