John Law (sociologist)

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John Law
Born (1946-05-16) 16 May 1946 (age 72)
Awards John Desmond Bernal Prize
Academic background
Alma mater University of Edinburgh
Thesis Specialties in Science: A Sociological Study of X-ray Protein Crystallography
Academic work
Discipline Sociology, Science and technology studies
Main interests Actor-network theory
Notable works"Provincialising STS" (2015)
"STS as Method" (2015)
After Method (2004)
Aircraft Stories (2002)
"Notes on Materiality and Sociality" (with Annemarie Mol, 1995)
A Sociology of Monsters (editor, 1991)
"Technology and Heterogeneous Engineering: the Case of the Portuguese Expansion" (1987, in The Social Construction of Technological Systems)
Website http://heterogeneities.net/
Notes

John Law (born 16 May 1946), [1] is a sociologist and science and technology studies scholar, currently on the Faculty of Social Sciences at the Open University and key proponent of Actor-network theory. Actor-network theory, sometimes abbreviated to ANT, is a social science approach for describing and explaining social, organisational, scientific and technological structures, processes and events. It assumes that all the components of such structures (whether these are human or otherwise) form a network of relations that can be mapped and described in the same terms or vocabulary.

Science and technology studies, or science, technology and society studies is the study of how society, politics, and culture affect scientific research and technological innovation, and how these, in turn, affect society, politics and culture.

Open University distance and research university in the United Kingdom

The Open University (OU) is a public distance learning and research university, and the biggest university in the UK for undergraduate education. The majority of the OU's undergraduate students are based in the United Kingdom and principally study off-campus; many of its courses can also be studied anywhere in the world. There are also a number of full-time postgraduate research students based on the 48-hectare university campus where they use the OU facilities for research, as well as more than 1,000 members of academic and research staff and over 2,500 administrative, operational and support staff.

Contents

Developed by two leading French STS scholars, Michel Callon and Bruno Latour, Law himself, and others, ANT may alternatively be described as a 'material-semiotic' method. ANT strives to map relations that are simultaneously material (between things) and 'semiotic' (between concepts), for instance, the interactions in a bank involve both people and their ideas, and computers. Together these form a single network.

Michel Callon is a professor of sociology at the École des mines de Paris and member of the Centre de sociologie de l'innovation. He is an influential author in the field of Science and Technology Studies and one of the leading proponents of actor–network theory (ANT) with Bruno Latour.

Bruno Latour French sociologist, philosopher and anthropologist

Bruno Latour is a French philosopher, anthropologist and sociologist. He is especially known for his work in the field of science and technology studies (STS). After teaching at the École des Mines de Paris from 1982 to 2006, he became Professor at Sciences Po Paris (2006–2017), where he was the scientific director of the Sciences Po Medialab. He retired from several university activities in 2017. He was also a Centennial Professor at the London School of Economics.

Professor John Law is one of the directors of the ESRC funded Centre for Research on Socio-Cultural Change.

Economic and Social Research Council one of the Research Councils in the United Kingdom

The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) is one of the seven Research Councils in the United Kingdom. It receives most of its funding from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, and provides funding and support for research and training work in the social sciences and economics, such as postgraduate degrees.

Bibliography

Authored

International Standard Book Number Unique numeric book identifier

The International Standard Book Number (ISBN) is a numeric commercial book identifier which is intended to be unique. Publishers purchase ISBNs from an affiliate of the International ISBN Agency.

OCLC global library cooperative

OCLC Online Computer Library Center, Incorporated d/b/a OCLC is an American nonprofit cooperative organization "dedicated to the public purposes of furthering access to the world's information and reducing information costs". It was founded in 1967 as the Ohio College Library Center. OCLC and its member libraries cooperatively produce and maintain WorldCat, the largest online public access catalog (OPAC) in the world. OCLC is funded mainly by the fees that libraries have to pay for its services. OCLC also maintains the Dewey Decimal Classification system.

Edited

Arie Rip is a Dutch professor emeritus of Philosophy of Science and Technology.

See also

Annemarie Mol Dutch ethnographer and philosopher

Annemarie Mol is a Dutch ethnographer and philosopher. She is the Professor of Anthropology of the Body at the University of Amsterdam.

Related Research Articles

Science studies branch of sociology

Science studies is an interdisciplinary research area that seeks to situate scientific expertise in broad social, historical, and philosophical contexts. It uses various methods to analyze the production, representation and reception of scientific knowledge and its epistemic and semiotic role.

Actor–network theory

Actor–network theory (ANT) is a theoretical and methodological approach to social theory where everything in the social and natural worlds exists in constantly shifting networks of relationships. It posits that nothing exists outside those relationships. All the factors involved in a social situation are on the same level, and thus there are no external social forces beyond what and how the network participants interact at present. Thus, objects, ideas, processes, and any other relevant factors are seen as just as important in creating social situations as humans. ANT holds that social forces do not exist in themselves, and therefore cannot be used to explain social phenomena. Instead, strictly empirical analysis should be undertaken to "describe" rather than "explain" social activity. Only after this can one introduce the concept of social forces, and only as an abstract theoretical concept, not something which genuinely exists in the world. Although it is best known for its controversial insistence on the capacity of nonhumans to act or participate in systems or networks or both, ANT is also associated with forceful critiques of conventional and critical sociology. Developed by science and technology studies (STS) scholars Michel Callon and Bruno Latour, the sociologist John Law, and others, it can more technically be described as a "material-semiotic" method. This means that it maps relations that are simultaneously material and semiotic. It assumes that many relations are both material and semiotic.

Sociology of scientific knowledge

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David Bloor is a British sociologist. He is a professor in, and a former director of, the Science Studies Unit at the University of Edinburgh. He is a key figure in the Edinburgh School and played a major role in the development of the field of Science and Technology Studies. He is best known for advocating the Strong Programme in the Sociology of Scientific Knowledge, most notably in his book Knowledge and Social Imagery.

The strong programme or strong sociology is a variety of the sociology of scientific knowledge (SSK) particularly associated with David Bloor, Barry Barnes, Harry Collins, Donald A. MacKenzie, and John Henry. The strong programme's influence on Science and Technology Studies is credited as being unparalleled. The largely Edinburgh-based school of thought has illustrated how the existence of a scientific community, bound together by allegiance to a shared paradigm, is a prerequisite for normal scientific activity.

The concept of Obligatory passage point (OPP) was developed by sociologist Michel Callon in a seminal contribution to actor–network theory: Callon, Michel (1986), "Elements of a sociology of translation: Domestication of the Scallops and the Fishermen of St Brieuc Bay". In John Law (Ed.), Power, Action and Belief: A New Sociology of Knowledge? London, Routledge: 196-233.

Wiebe Bijker Dutch academic

Wiebe E. Bijker is a Dutch professor Emeritus, former chair of the Department of Social Science and Technology at Maastricht University in the Netherlands.

Social shaping of technology

According to Robin A. Williams and David Edge (1996), "Central to social shaping of technology (SST) is the concept that there are choices inherent in both the design of individual artifacts and systems, and in the direction or trajectory of innovation programs."

The Centre de Sociologie de l'Innovation is a research center at the Mines Paristech, France.

Steve Woolgar British sociologist

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John Richard Urry, FAcSS FAcSS was a British sociologist, Professor at Lancaster University. He is noted for work in the fields of the sociology of tourism and mobility.

Judy Wajcman British academic

Judy Wajcman, FBA, is the Anthony Giddens Professor of Sociology at the London School of Economics and Political Science. She is a Visiting Professor at the Oxford Internet Institute. Her scholarly interests encompass the sociology of work, science and technology studies, gender theory, and organizational analysis. Her work has been translated into French, German, Greek, Korean, Japanese, Portuguese and Spanish. Prior to joining the LSE in 2009, she was a Professor of Sociology in the Research School of Social Sciences at the Australian National University. She was the first woman fellow at St. John's College, Cambridge.

In science studies, the social process of blackboxing is based on the abstract notion of a black box. To cite Bruno Latour, blackboxing is "the way scientific and technical work is made invisible by its own success. When a machine runs efficiently, when a matter of fact is settled, one need focus only on its inputs and outputs and not on its internal complexity. Thus, paradoxically, the more science and technology succeed, the more opaque and obscure they become."

In actor-network theory (ANT), translation is the process that allows a network to be represented by a single entity, which can in itself be an individual or another network.

The term 'interessement' is French-English, and is synonymous with the word 'interposition'. It was first used by Michel Callon. It is used within the scientific tradition known as actor-network theory, in association with translation and the formation of networks. Various devices can be used in the interessement phase of a translation process, to strengthen the association between actors, and support the structure of the network.

Engineering studies is an interdisciplinary branch of social sciences and humanities devoted to the study of engineers and their activities, often considered a part of science and technology studies (STS), and intersecting with and drawing from engineering education research. Studying engineers refers among other to the history and the sociology of their profession, its institutionalization and organization, the social composition and structure of the population of engineers, their training, their trajectory, etc. A subfield is for instance Women in engineering. Studying engineering refers to the study of engineering activities and practices, their knowledge and ontologies, their role into the society, their engagement.

John Hassard is a British social scientist specialising in organization theory. He is known for conducting a ‘multiple paradigm’ case study investigation in organizational research.

References

  1. "Law, John, 1946-". Library of Congress. Retrieved 13 February 2015. data sheet (b. 5/16/46)