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Handbook for the Ages: Peeking into the forthcoming 4th Edition of the STS Handbook

Yelena Gluzman

27 June, 2016

Like those infrequent but recurring celestial events, the appearance of a new Handbook of Science and Technology Studies can be a landmark event for a generation. It is no surprise then, that the STS community eagerly anticipates seeing themselves and their field reflected and diffracted in the Fourth Edition of the Handbook of Science and Technology Studies, due to be published later this year. Here, the editors of the volume—Ulrike Felt, Rayvon Fouché, Clark Miller and Laurel Smith-Doerr—speak with Backchannels’ Yelena Gluzman to give a taste of what we can expect.



Question: When you began working on the Fourth Edition of the Handbook, you spent a lot of time reaching out to the STS community. I appreciated, for example, your 2012 call for feedback on an initial vision of the book. Did feedback from the community and from chapter authors impact the themes of the volume? How does the current version of the book compare to your initial vision of what the book would be?

Answer: We initiated our call for chapters in late 2012, inviting people to think about advances in STS theories and methods, the development of new ideas, the evolution of long-important themes, and the engagement of STS with other disciplines and with the public sphere. We strongly emphasized our wish for a broader geography of authors, encouraging chapter proposals from STS scholars in parts of the world that have historically been underrepresented in prior STS handbooks, including Asia, Latin America, and Africa, as well as proposals that offered global and/or comparative perspectives. The imagined readership focused on STS graduate students entering the field. We also envisioned it as relevant to scholars and colleagues new to STS who desire insights into key STS concepts and approaches, and professionals outside of cognate fields and even outside of academia for whom the Handbook might present a broad, deep, and nuanced view of STS scholarship. We opened a webspace to give us feedback in this early phase.

As has been the case for the previous STS handbooks, the call for papers was a key moment in the making of the volume. We were impressed by the large number of proposals we received, by the richness of ideas about STS related topics they proposed to capture, and by their diversity of authorship. The proposed chapter abstracts were an expression of the huge diversity of the field. We spent several days organizing the submissions, categorizing, and identifying overlaps and blank spots where we did not have any submissions. We received invaluable feedback from the handbook committee as well as from our colleagues in different settings in which we presented the first outline. In that sense, the process of compiling a table of contents was simultaneously bottom-up and top-down. Feedback and discussions at the annual 4S meetings in San Diego (2013) and Buenos Aires (2014) also helped sharpen our vision.

The Handbook then proceeded through several stages of further transformation on its path toward a final product: authors writing their chapters, which in the end sometimes looked quite different from the initial abstract submitted; reviewers providing extensive feedback, challenging authors to rethink and reshape their chapters; feedback from the editors, in an attempt to advance an integrated vision of how chapters might fit together to strengthen the volume as a whole. In the introduction, we compare our work with landscaping. You have to imagine how the landscape might look, in the future, even if you are working with seedling versions of the plants. While the chapters grow, it is a constant negotiation between how individual chapters develop over time and the desire to achieve important goals in the overall handbook. Each chapter went through (at least) three rounds of revisions and it was a fantastic (although quite work-intensive) experience of collaboration and engagement among the editors and chapter authors.


Question: The Third Edition of The Handbook of Science and Technology Studies was published in 2008, edited by Ed Hackett, Olga Amsterdamska, Michael Lynch and Judy Wacjman. The previous two editions were published in 1977 and 1995, respectively. The Handbook seems to be more than a compendium of important disciplinary issues; each new edition indexes the trajectory of the field itself. Based on your work on the Fourth Edition, could you describe your sense of how the field is changing?

Answer: Yes, a handbook is always more than a collection of chapters. We reflect extensively on how the different editions of the handbooks illustrate the trajectory of the field in our introductory chapter. We review each of the three previous handbooks, showing how they capture a specific moment in time and in the development of STS as a field. We won’t say more here— you have to wait and read the introduction. What we also did was to map the institutions where authors came from and how this developed over time. Here is a glimpse of what the map looks like for the 4th Edition of the Handbook.



Question: Could you tell us when the Fourth Edition is expected to come out? Are there launch events planned that we should know about?

Answer: The Fourth Edition of the Handbook is currently in the last phase: correcting the page proofs. The entire manuscript should go to the printer by September. The book will actually carry a 2017 date, but is likely to be out later this year. MIT Press will publish a hard cover version, but for the first time readers will also have the option to download individual chapters electronically. In this way we hope to reach audiences who would not necessarily want to read the full Handbook but would be very interested in some chapters in their areas of interest.

We are organizing a pre-launch event that will occur at the 4S/EASST conference in Barcelona at the beginning of September. We will invite one author from each of the five sections of the Handbook (see the Table of Contents below—the sections are broadly focused on STS methods, knowledge production, technology and technoscience, institutional organization of science, and ‘grand challenges’ and STS). The event will focus on issues that cut across the volume and how we think this handbook reflects the current moment and trajectory of STS as a field. We will ask the authors to reflect on how they approached their topic in order to turn it into a handbook chapter, their key argument(s), and any pleasant surprises they encountered in writing about developments in the field. This is likely to be a lunchtime session--so do look it up once the program is out!

At the 4S conference in 2017 in Boston, we plan to  have a launch party. This Fourth Edition will appear exactly 40 years after the first did. There is ample reason for celebration of the developments in our field.


Question: Could you give Backchannels readers a sneak peek of the Table of Contents?

Answer: Here it is, below, in all its length and breadth.



Handbook of Science and Technology Studies

(4th edition)

Editors: Ulrike Felt, Rayvon Fouché, Clark A. Miller, Laurel Smith-Doerr


Introduction to the Fourth Edition of the Handbook of Science and Technology Studies

Ulrike Felt, Rayvon Fouché, Clark A. Miller, Laurel Smith-Doerr


Section I

Doing, Exploring and Reflecting on Methods


Chapter 1

STS as Method

John Law


Chapter 2

Rethinking Documents 

Kalpana Shankar, David Hakken and Carsten Østerlund


Chapter 3

The Intellectual and Practical Contributions of Scientometrics to STS

Sally Wyatt, Staša Milojević, Han Woo Park and Loet Leydesdorff


Chapter 4

Ethnomethodology, Video Analysis, and STS

Philippe Sormani, Morana Alač, Alain Bovet and Christian Greiffenhagen


Chapter 5 

Art, Design, and Performance

Chris Salter, Regula Valérie Burri and Joseph Dumit


Chapter 6

Engaging, Designing and Making Digital Systems

Janet Vertesi, David Ribes, Laura Forlano, Yanni Loukissas and Marisa Leavitt Cohn


Chapter 7

Experiments in Participation

Javier Lezaun, Noortje Marres and Manual Tironi


Chapter 8

Making and Doing: Engagement and Reflexive Learning in STS

Gary Lee Downey and Teun Zuiderent-Jerak


Section II

Making Knowledge, People, and Societies


Chapter 9

Science and Democracy

Sheila Jasanoff


Chapter 10

STS and Social Movements: Pasts and Futures

Steve Breyman, Nancy Campbell, Virginia Eubanks and Abby Kinchy


Chapter 11

Structural Inequality and the Politics of Science and Technology

David J. Hess, Sulfikar Amir, Scott Frickel, Daniel Lee Kleinman, Kelly Moore and Logan D. A. Williams


Chapter 12

Race and Science in the 21st Century

Ramya Rajagopalan, Alondra Nelson, and Joan Fujimura


Chapter 13

Sex, Gender, and Sexuality in Biomedicine

Jennifer R. Fishman, Laura Mamo and Patrick R. Grzanka


Chapter 14

Feminism, Postcolonialism, Technoscience

Banu Subramaniam, Laura Foster, Sandra Harding, Deboleena Roy and Kim TallBear


Chapter 15

Conceptualising Imaginaries of Science, Technology and Society

Maureen McNeil, Michael Arribas-Ayllon, Joan Haran, Adrian Mackenzie and Richard Tutton


Chapter 16

Performing and Governing the Future in Science and Technology

Kornelia Konrad, Harro van Lente, Christopher Groves and Cynthia Selin


Section III

Socio-Technological (Re-)Configurations


Chapter 17

Reconceptualizing Users with Enriching Ethnography

Lisa-Jo K. van den Scott, Carrie B. Sanders and Antony J. Puddephatt


Chapter 18

How Infrastructures Matter

Stephen C. Slota and Geoffrey C. Bowker


Chapter 19

STS in the City

Ignacio Farías and Anders Blok


Chapter 20

The Sociotechnical Architecture of Information Networks

Hector Postigo and Casey O'Donnell


Chapter 21

Machineries of Finance: Technologies and Sciences of Markets

Alex Preda


Chapter 22

A Critical Theory of Technology

Andrew Feenberg


Chapter 23

STS for Development

Aalok Khandekar, Koen Beumer, Annapurna Mamidipudi, Pankaj Sekhsaria and Wiebe E. Bijker



Section IV

Organizing and Governing Science


Chapter 24

Gender, (In)Equity, and the Scientific Workforce

Mary Frank Fox, Kjersten Bunker Whittington and Marcela Linková


Chapter 25

The Social and Epistemic Organization of Scientific Work

Edward J. Hackett, John N. Parker, Niki Vermeulen and Bart Penders


Chapter 26

Interactional Expertise

Harry Collins, Robert Evans and Martin Weinel


Chapter 27

Surveillance and Regulation of Laboratory Practices

Ruthanne Huising and Susan S. Silbey


Chapter 28

Ethics as Governance in Genomics and Beyond

Stephen Hilgartner, Barbara Prainsack and J. Benjamin Hurlbut


Chapter 29

Responsible Research and Innovation

Jack Stilgoe and David Guston


Chapter 30

Reframing Science Communication

Maja Horst, Sarah R. Davies and Alan Irwin



Section V

Engaging with Societal Challenges


Chapter 31

Aging: The Socio-Material Constitution of Later Life

Kelly Joyce, Alexander Peine, Louis Neven and Florian Kohlbacher


Chapter 32

Agricultural Systems: Co-Producing Knowledge and Food

Alastair Iles, Garrett Graddy-Lovelace, Maywa Montenegro and Ryan Galt


Chapter 33

Knowledge and Security

Kathleen M. Vogel, Brian Balmer, Sam Weiss Evans, Inga Kroener, Miwao Matsumoto and Brian Rappert


Chapter 34

Researching Disaster from an STS Perspective

Kim Fortun, Scott Gabriel Knowles, Vivian Choi, Paul Jobin, Miwao Matsumoto, Pedro de la Torre III, Max Liboiron and Luis Felipe R. Murillo


Chapter 35

Environmental Justice: Knowledge, Technology, and Expertise

Gwen Ottinger, Javiera Barandiarán and Aya H. Kimura


Chapter 36

The Making of Global Environmental Science and Politics

Silke Beck, Tim Forsyth, Pia M. Kohler, Myanna Lahsen and Martin Mahony

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Backchannels / Projects

Descriptions of current work—the makings and doings—of STS scholars across the globe. This includes individual work, as well as collaborations between / with academics, practitioners, and policy makers.