Annual Meeting of the Society for Social Studies of Science (4S)
"Design and displacement - social studies of science and technology"
The quadrennial joint conference of The Society for Social Studies of Science (4S) and European Association for the Study of Science and Technology (EASST) will take place October 17-20, 2012 in Copenhagen, Denmark. For the conference we invite papers that address the dynamics and interrelationships between science, technology and society. Papers which address the conference’s theme ‘Design and Displacement’ are especially relevant, but papers on any topic in STS are welcome.
‘‘Design’ has become a key concept across a multitude of disciplinary domains and social spheres. In addition to its traditional ‘aesthetic’ associations, it is now a key term in multiple scientific domains and in diverse technological practices. One can even think of societies and social arrangements being ‘designed’. In science and technology, ‘design’ implies the re-arrangement of materials and ideas for innovative purposes. When newly designed scientific and technical objects enter the world, however, their initial purposes are often displaced.
For decades, STS researchers have been following the practical and political dimensions of science and technology. By focusing on concepts and practices of scientific and technological design at their sites of construction and on their multiple displacements, the 2012 conference continues this tradition. By bringing together ‘design’ and ‘displacement’ we want to highlight how scientific and technological design engages with existing socio-technical arrangements in both planned and unplanned ways, facilitating both collaborations and contestations, and generating both order and disorder.
The conference encourages analytic, critical, and practical engagement with design and displacement in several ways. First, it points to the need for investigating the relation between design intentions and their displacements, for example as catalysts for change and conflict. It also highlights the importance of investigating design controversies. It locates design practices in broader political contexts, and focuses attention on how design facilitates or hinders social inclusion, locally and globally. The theme ‘Design and Displacement’ invites careful analyses of the way design practices take part in shaping worlds. However, ‘Design and Displacement’ also raises questions around STS as design work and practice-based interventions. In this sense design becomes simultaneously topic and outcome, a situation that raises new questions concerning the role of STS research.