Science in Action: How to Follow Scientists and Engineers Through Society

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Harvard University Press, 1987 - Social Science - 274 pages
2 Reviews

Science and technology have immense authority and influence in our society, yet their working remains little understood. The conventional perception of science in Western societies has been modified in recent years by the work of philosophers, sociologists and historians of science. In this book Bruno Latour brings together these different approaches to provide a lively and challenging analysis of science, demonstrating how social context and technical content are both essential to a proper understanding of scientific activity. Emphasizing that science can only be understood through its practice, the author examines science and technology in action: the role of scientific literature, the activities of laboratories, the institutional context of science in the modern world, and the means by which inventions and discoveries become accepted. From the study of scientific practice he develops an analysis of science as the building of networks. Throughout, Bruno Latour shows how a lively and realistic picture of science in action alters our conception of not only the natural sciences but also the social sciences and the sociology of knowledge in general.

This stimulating book, drawing on a wealth of examples from a wide range of scientific activities, will interest all philosophers, sociologists and historians of science, scientists and engineers, and students of the philosophy of social science and the sociology of knowledge.

 

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Contents

PART1 FROM WEAKER TO STRONGER RHETORIC
19
Laboratories
63
FROM WEAK POINTS TO STRONGHOLDS
101
Insiders Out
145
FROM SHORT TO LONGER NETWORKS
177
Centres of calculation
215
Rules of Method
258
References
266
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About the author (1987)

Bruno LaTour was born in the French province of Burgundy, where his family has been making wine for many generations. He was educated in Dijon, where he studied philosophy and Biblical exegesis. He then went to Africa, to complete his military service, working for a French organization similar to the American Peace Corps. While in Africa he became interested in the social sciences, particularly anthropology. LaTour believes that through his interests in philosophy, theology, and anthropology, he is actually pursuing a single goal, to understand the different ways that truth is built. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, LaTour has written about the philosophy and sociology of science in an original, insightful, and sometimes quirky way. Works that have been translated to English include The Pasteurization of France; Laboratory Life; Science in Action: How to Follow Scientists and Engineers through Society; We Have Never Been Modern; and Aramis, or the Love of Technology. LaTour is a professor at the Center for the Sociology of Innovation, a division of the Ecole Nationale Superieure des Mines, in Paris.

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