HPSC4103 - Sociology of Science

Semester 2

Prerequisites: Available only to students admitted to HPS Honours, Graduate Diploma in Science (History and Philosophy of Science) and Graduate Certificate in Science (History and Philosophy of Science)
6 credit points
1 seminar/week Seminars will be held in the HPS Common Room Level 3 Carslaw Building
Assessment: essay, fieldwork reports, seminar participation

The negotiation of scientific knowledge

Harry Collins has compared scientific knowledge to a ship in a bottle: if you just see the finished product, you can’t understand how it came about, and you can’t believe it’s not what it says it is: the empirically-determined truth about the world.

This course aims to take a close look at some of these ships in bottles, and how they got there, introducing some of the most exciting and innovative ideas about what science is and how it works. We will examine several of the sociological & anthropological approaches that have formed the basis of the area of social studies of science and technology that has emerged over the last 30 years.

We will start with an overview of the development of history and philosophy of science since 1945, to put the emergence of the sociology of science into perspective, before moving on to a selection of readings from the field. Students will have the opportunity to evaluate the approaches discussed in this course by conducting their own research into a specific case.

In This Unit of Study We Will Discuss:

  • The 'strong program' devised by sociologists of knowledge based on a critique of traditional philosophy of science
  • The sociology of technology
  • The impact of feminism on the study of science
  • The 'actor-network' approach developed by Latour and Callon
  • Empirical study of experimentation and laboratory life