STS and the Importance of Being a Collective: Gill Haddow Talks with Barry Barnes

  • Gill Haddow University of Edinburgh
  • Barry Barnes
Keywords: self-referential knowledge, anti-individualism, collective action, performativity


Professor Barry Barnes was a key, founding member of the early Science Studies Unit (SSU) at the University of Edinburgh.  In this interview with Gill Haddow he reflects on what is was like to be part of this fertile period of scholarly enterprise with David Bloor and others and describes some of the key influences that effected his thinking such as Thomas Kuhn.  The eighties were a time of political unrest and SSU, was not outwardly political in vision but was not immune.  The Science Wars also had detrimental effects for some.  The origin of the concept of “boot-strapped induction,” or feedback loops was also being brought into existence with the idea that scientific knowledge was both self-referential and self-validating.  At the center lay the most basic and enduring tenets of Barnes’ thought and that was the collective and how people could never truly be independent. A reflection by Gill Haddow follows the interview.

Author Biography

Gill Haddow, University of Edinburgh
Senior Research Fellow
12 Jul 2018