Central Question 6

Question: What should be a next step of STS practitioner?

Since STS appeared, it has changed through Strong program and to laboratory studies and controversy studies. In the reading materials, the authors thought about the next step of STS. Mario Biagioli talked about the boundary of STS and argued that STS should handle how science works rather that what science is. And Bruno Latour and Timothy Lenoir talked about the problem of current STS and the future direction of STS. Although both of them worried about the future of STS, their approach is little different. Latour argued that both trials to explain science through social studies and through internal studies are wrong and they made the trap to stay STS in current standstill point. To escape current situation, he said to “down with constructivism” and introduced the new axis, stability-instability, to escape one dimensional discussion. However, Lenoir had a doubt the suggestion. Although he agreed the basic direction of STS that needs change from this debate between society and nature, he was not convinced that the turning of the trial of Latour and Dona Haraway is right because of its limitation as semiotic ideas.

To me, both of them do not entirely convince me. Although I agree that STS needs the next step for its future and the view to see science and society needs to change, I cannot convince why stability should be the new gradient. It is right that new standard can provide new perspective to see the problems and science and society. However, I do not think the stability is the only answer. Other things also can be a new standard and several axes can be added to expand the perspectives and field of STS, I think. And although I also understand the worry of Lenoir, the possibility to go back to original problem cannot be the reason to dissent the change. It is the problem to apply Greimas square directly to STS. But, to study and discuss something, the use of text and language are inevitable, and any guideline is needed to discuss right or not. So, who is right about future direction of STS? Where should STS go in the future?

Revised question: How can we make stabilized things unstable or how can we find new unstable guideline of STS?

Through the class discussion, I felt that my question was too broad to discuss. And, although it may be still broad, I suggest new question. How can we make stabilized things unstable? Or how can we find new unstable guideline of STS? In the class, I asked about why stability. But, I recognized the new axis of stability can include all other possible guideline. The binary of nature/society is the most popular and stable pole in STS. So, most possible new poles for STS research are less stable than the nature/society and they would have different stable level in STS. Although Lenoir still worried that trials to escape the trap of nature/society trap sill cannot provide the answer to escape, the each trial makes somewhat different in stability. And although it is still binary, we can combine the each guideline and when they are combined, it is not the binary question anymore. The combination of the each level provides countless possibility and way to see the topics and it makes STS more fruitful.

So, in this point, what we should think about is how to find new unstable guideline. Already, many people start to try many ways. Microsociology studies which are still going on can provide new points when they try to focus on their research object, not focus on the society/nature, and to widen their view. I think the best thing that STS has is freedom. With the characteristic as interdisciplinary study, STS researchers do not need to be tied in one fixed way of study or way of thinking. When we do not limit ourselves in already existing cube of thinking, I think the discourse in STS will expand more and more, not be limited in already existing discourse, the binary of nature/society.

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