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Society for Social Studies of Science

Ludwik Fleck Prize

Fleck Prize 2017: Judy Wajcman

The Fleck Prize committee is delighted to award Judy Wajcman the 2017 Ludwik Fleck Prize for her book Pressed for Time: The Acceleration of Life in Digital Capitalism (Chicago, 2015). The Fleck Prize recognizes an outstanding book in the area of science and technology studies.  

Pressed for Time addresses the construction of time, challenging commonplace myths about work, leisure, and digital technologies. Against the technological determinism implied in the idea that smartphones and email are speeding up the pace of life and reducing leisure time, Wajcman carefully examines the mutual shaping of temporal rhythms and digital technologies that underlie everyday lives in global societies. The committee was deeply impressed with the way that Wajcman built her argument, seamlessly blending theories of modernity and social acceleration with much empirical research on issues of time-use, housework, and family life.

The book is an exemplary model of research that considers the social shaping of technologies, setting a new standard for research that will enhance our conceptual understanding of the complex relationship of time and technology in contemporary life. Wajcman insists on attention to diversity and intersectionality, showing how gender, class, and household composition shape the experience of time pressure. She shows us the continuities between the pre-digital and digital era, and points to possibilities for crafting more satisfying lives of work and intimacy—particularly by opening up technological design to a wider range of social groups and interests.

Pressed for Time is written in engaging, accessible prose, and addresses the subject in ways that help the reader to make sense of their own experiences and struggles to manage their time. In particular, the committee resonated with Wajcman’s depiction of the erosion of the shared sociotemporal order, which creates coordination problems that many of us seek to solve though texting and other smartphone apps. Pressed for Time is an admirable work of STS scholarship and a must-read for everyone inhabiting our fragmented temporal landscape. It is ultimately inspiring – hinting at the agency and inventiveness of readers to shape their own timescapes.

2017 Fleck Prize Committee: Abby Kinchy, Claire Waterton, Sulfikar Amir

Acceptance

I am thrilled to be awarded the Fleck prize. It is a tremendous honour and has particular resonance for me as I share a Polish Jewish ancestry with Ludwik Fleck. I have spent my academic career in sociology departments and my aim in Pressed for Time was to bring an STS perspective to bear on mainstream sociological debates about temporality, speed and modernity that are still largely uninformed by our scholarship. Perhaps inevitably, I have to report that the writing of this book was not accelerated by digitalization!

I owe a great debt to the 4S society for providing a stimulating environment for discussion, a wealth of excellent papers at its annual meetings, and the most generous international community of scholars one could hope for. My book is very much a product of our community and certainly all the better for having had many fruitful exchanges over the years. The project of formulating an alternative politics of time (and in particular a gendered time politics) cannot be separated from the politics of technology. My warm thanks to members of the Fleck Prize Committee for this award and for the enormous amount of work that such prize committees involve.

Bio

Judy Wajcman is the Anthony Giddens Professor of Sociology at the London School of Economics. After finishing her PhD at Cambridge, her first post was at the University of Edinburgh, and a product of her time there was The Social Shaping of Technology (with Donald MacKenzie). Since then she has held various positions, including Sociology Professor in the Research School of Social Sciences at the Australian National University. She has published widely on the gender relations of technology (Feminism Confronts Technology; TechnoFeminism). Her most recent book is The Sociology of Speed: Digital, Organizational, and Social Temporalities (2017, edited with N. Dodd). She was President of 4S from 2010-2011.

About the Fleck Prize

Outstanding book in the area of science and technology studies

"Science and technology studies" is an interdisciplinary field, so the range of eligible books is very broad.  It includes, but is not limited to, the disciplines of sociology, anthropology, history, philosophy, political science, economics, education, geography, and psychology as well as works combining or outside of the traditional academic disciplines.  It includes studies of knowledge, policy, government, R&D, the uses of expertise, feminist and gender studies, technological controversies, technology transfer, rhetorical and literary analyses, and studies of specific technologies.  Further, it includes works addressing science and technology for the public and for educational audiences.  The main criterion is that the substantive content of the work be framed by a social science or humanities perspective of science and/or technology.

The Ludwik Fleck Prize is named after microbiologist Ludwik Fleck (1896-1961), author of The Genesis and Development of a Scientific Fact. Fleck's case history of the discovery of the Wassermann reaction to syphilis, was originally published in German in 1935, and republished in English in 1979 after having been cited by Thomas Kuhn as an important influence on his own conception of the history of science. Both Fleck's history of discovery, and the history of his book's re-discovery, exemplify a view of progress that continues to inform research in the science and technology studies fields.

Procedures

Committee: Membership on the Fleck Prize Committee consists of selected Council members and other senior STS scholars appointed by the President.

Nominations: Publishers, authors, and members of the Society may submit nominations (author, title, publisher) to the prize coordinator, at exhibits-prizes@4Sonline.org. To facilitate the process nominations are requested by 1 February. Publishers are then contacted in early February and invited to submit the books nominated by the Society.

Eligibility--Books Due May 1: Each year the committee will review books with publication dates from the 3 prior years. For example, during the 2017 meeting, the committee will consider books with copyright dates of 2014 - 2016. Books may be re-nominated until their eligibility expires. Publishers or authors are responsible for sending review copies to each member of the committee by May 1 to be considered for that year's prize. Reprints, second editions, edited volumes, reference works and similar volumes are ineligible for consideration for the Fleck Prize. Multiple-authored books are eligible where they represent original work.

Short List: Through the procedure above, committees will designate a preliminary short list and meet during the 4S annual meeting to determine the winners. Awards are to be granted solely on the basis of merit as determined by the members of the committee, without reference to book reviews or recommendations by outside members. If a consensus winner does not emerge, a secret ballot will determine the winner, with honorable mentions as appropriate.

Award: The Fleck Prize Chair will inform the winner(s) after the decision of the committee to insure that the winner will be present at the award ceremony and available to participate in an Author-Meets-Critics session at the following annual meeting. The Chair of the prize committee organizes the Author-Meets-Critics session for the winning book. The prize includes a cash award to help defray the costs of attending the annual meeting to receive it.

Journal Review: In addition the prize committee is encouraged to identify book clusters (theoretical or thematic) to forward to ST&HV for the solicitation of review essay as part of their narrowing and selecting process.

Past Winners

2016: Banu Subramaniam. Ghost Stories for Darwin:  The Science of Variation and the Politics of Diversity

2015. Lochlann Jain. Malignant

2014. Helen Tilley, Africa as a Living Laboratory: Empire, Development, and the Problem of Scientific Knowledge, 1870-1950

2013. Isabelle Stengers, Cosmopolitics

2012. Hugh Raffles, Insectopedia

2011. Marion Fourcade, Economists and Societies: Discipline and Profession in the United States, Britain and France, 1890s to 1990s. (Princeton, 2009).

2010. Warwick Anderson. The Collectors of Lost Souls

2009. Steven Epstein. Inclusion: Politics of Difference in Medical Research

2008. Michelle Murphy. Sick Building Syndrome.

2007. Geoffrey Bowker. Memory Practices in the Sciences.

2006. Philip Mirowski. The Effortless Economy of Science?

2005. Peter Keating and Alberto Cambrosio. Biomedical Platforms

2004. Annemarie Mol. The Body Multiple

2003. Helen Verran. Science and an African Logic

2002. Randall Collins. The Sociology of Philosophies: A Global Theory of Intellectual Change

Lily E. Kay. Who Wrote the Book of Life? A History of the Genetic Code.

2001. Karin Knorr Cetina Epistemic Cultures: How the Sciences Make Knowledge

2000. Adele E. Clarke Disciplining Reproduction: Modernity, American Life Sciences, and 'the Problems of Sex'

1999. Donna J. Haraway. 1996. Modest Witness, Second-Millennium: Femaleman Meets Oncomouse: Feminism and Technoscience

1998. Peter Dear. Discipline and Experience: The Mathematical Way in the Scientific Revolution

1997 Theodore M. Porter, Trust in Numbers: The Pursuit of Objectivity in Science and Public Life

1996 Steven Shapin, A Social History of Truth: Civility and Science in 17th Century England

1995 Londa Schiebinger, Nature's Body: Gender in the Making of Modern Science

1994 Donald Mackenzie, Inventing Accuracy: A Historical Sociology of Nuclear Missile Guidance