“These Were Not Boring Meetings”: Miguel García-Sancho Talks with Karin Knorr Cetina

  • Miguel Garcia-Sancho Science, Technology and Innovation Studies University of Edinburgh
  • Karin Knorr Cetina University of Chicago
Keywords: Karin Knorr Cetina, 4S, constructivism, laboratory studies, ethnography, social studies of science, sociology of finance


In this interview, Karin Knorr Cetina evokes the first Annual Meeting of the Society for Social Studies of Science at Cornell University in 1976 as a foundational moment for science and technology studies (STS). This conference consolidated a new approach to the study of science based on the anthropological observation of scientists at work in the laboratory. Knorr Cetina argues that, despite geographically cementing in the United States, this approach originated mainly through the work of European scholars. The years that followed the Cornell meeting were marked by intense debates between the defenders of this anthropological approach and other scholars more focused on ideas than on scientific practice. Knorr Cetina describes these debates as “bloodbaths” and recalls having first coined the term “constructivist” as applied to science studies in 1977. For Knorr Cetina, STS is now shifting its attention from the production to the consumption of technoscientific knowledge. Her current interest in the financial markets and other forms of screen technologies is an example of this transition. She argues that STS needs to overcome its current fragmentation and emphasis in isolated case studies. The establishment of basic research centers with the financial resources to develop collective and long-term programs would help scholars to expand their horizons. In his following reflection, Miguel García-Sancho explores the connections between STS and travel in both a sense of intellectual shift and a more mundane meaning of physical movement.

12 Jul 2018