Cracking the Crystal in STS: Marcelo Fetz Talks with Harry Collins

Keywords: Harry Collins, interview, interactional expertise, STS history


In this interview, Harry Collins and Marcelo Fetz discuss Collins’ early work on the importance of tacit knowledge in laboratory research, the revolutionary spirit of early Science and Technology Studies (STS) research, and his concerns about its current intellectual decline which he sees as a result of the popularity of Actor-Network Theory (ANT) approaches and an increasing focus on policy-relevant STS studies. Collins describes how, in the early years of STS, he was part of a group of social scientists, interested in the analysis of scientific knowledge and practices, who immersed themselves in particular research fields, and then used their familiarity with science to develop radical new approaches to the topic. For him, the “interactional expertise” developed in such encounters is a key research tool––STS’s most effective means of generating compelling new ways of understanding science and technology––which should not be abandoned in favor of alternative approaches.  In his following reflection, Marcelo Fetz considers the unifying conditions that were needed to “crack the crystal of science,” and the later problems resulting from the institutionalization of STS.

Author Biography

Marcelo Fetz, Federal University of Espírito Santo
Professor of sociological theory at the Federal University of Espírito Santo
12 Jul 2018