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Society for Social Studies of Science

Nicholas C. Mullins Award

Mullins Award 2015

Karen LevyThe Mullins Award committee is delighted to offer Karen Levy the 2015 Nicholas C. Mullins Award for her article “The Contexts of Control: Information, Power, and Truck Driving Work," published in The Information Society!

Levy’s study of truck driving work in the United States is an excellent account of technological monitoring and organization control. The paper provides deep insights into the ambivalent relationships among technology-enhanced organizational surveillance, labor, and individual agency in an empirical setting largely understudied in STS scholarship.  

The paper demonstrates this by abstracting electronic data about the location and activity of truckers and then re-socializing said data along specific axes of organizational control. Levy’s research exhibits an intricate process of redefining the social contexts within which the information operates. The article connects with traditional STS themes pertaining to questions of how knowledge is localized in particular social and cultural contexts, as well as the challenges associated with its successful propagation and implementation in other contexts.

abstractMethodologically, the author's thorough ethnographic work illuminates the three dimensions along which the process of abstracting and re-localizing data about truckers is carried out. The paper continues a strong tradition in STS of structuring research questions around deep, thorough ethnographic methods, supplemented in this case by interviews as well. Levy’s analysis of how the contrarian attitudes of trucker culture affect their views of electronic management systems is particularly informative.

The paper offers a detailed and well-constructed narrative about the ways information can be gathered and used by organizations to exhort social control over its employees. It meets a pressing need in today's world, in which preoccupations with surveillance and technologically-mediated forms of control have increasingly become objects of public concern.

Overall, with rich ethnographic description organized through strong theoretical interpretation, the article makes an important contribution to STS scholarship!  Congratulations to Karen Levy!


Karen Levy is a postdoctoral associate at New York University School of Law's Information Law Institute and NYU's Department of Media, Culture, and Communication, as well as a fellow at the Data and Society Research Institute. She researches how law and technology interact to regulate social life, with particular focus on legal, social, and organizational aspects of surveillance and monitoring.  She holds a Ph.D. in Sociology from Princeton University and a J.D. from Indiana University Maurer School of Law. Karen previously served as a law clerk in the United States Federal Courts.


I am very honored to receive the 2015 Nicholas C. Mullins Award for my paper "The Contexts of Control: Information, Power, and Truck Driving Work." The Award puts me in the humbling company of its previous recipients. I gratefully acknowledge the support of the National Science Foundation, Princeton University, Intel Labs, and the Horowitz Foundation for Social Policy, and the many members of the trucking community who generously shared their time and expertise.

Mullins committee members: Sulfikar Amir (Nanyang Technological U, Singapore), Abby Kinchy (Rensselaer, USA), Claire Waterton (Lancaster U, UK), and Samuel Tettner (Independent scholar).

Student Essay Competition

Deadline for Submission: 15 August, 2015

The Nicholas C. Mullins Award is awarded each year by the Society for Social Studies of Science (4S) for an outstanding piece of scholarship by a graduate student in the field of Science and Technology Studies. The prize consists of a plaque and a check for US $1,000 to help defray the costs of attending the annual meeting to receive it.

Only currently enrolled graduate students are eligible to submit a paper for the 4S Mullins competition. If receipt of PhD (or other terminal graduate degree) is held by the submission deadline, those degree recipients are not eligible for the competition.

The competition is for graduate student papers in the field of science and technology studies, including unpublished papers, published articles, and dissertation chapters. Dissertation chapters should be adapted so as to make them "stand-alone." The work may not be older than two years at the time of submission. A graduate student can only make one submission a year. A paper that is coauthored by a faculty member is not considered a graduate student paper. However, a paper coauthored by current graduate students only (with no faculty authors) is eligible.

The intended readership for the papers is a general STS audience. All papers must be submitted in English. The paper should not exceed 10,000 words, including title, notes, and references. Papers longer than the limit will be disqualified.

The deadline for submission is August 15. Papers submitted after this date will not be considered for this year’s competition, and must be resubmitted the following year. Submissions must observe the following guidelines:

  • The paper must be submitted electronically, as an attachment to an email message, in MS Word or PDF format.
  • The subject line of the email message should read “4S Mullins submission.”
  • The filename of the submission should consist of the first two significant words of the paper title (excluding articles such as “the” or “an”).
  • Authors must include the total word count immediately after the title on the first page of their submission.
  • To facilitate blind review, the author's name, address, email address, and institutional affiliation should appear only in the covering e-mail. 
  • Also in the covering email, authors must provide the name of their graduate program, the date they began study, and the date they expect to receive their degree.

Send the submission to the chair of the Nicholas C. Mullins jury, Prof. Tania Pérez-Bustos.

The winner will be privately notified immediately following the 2015 meeting. The award will be publicly announced at the 2016 Annual Meeting of 4S, and the winner is expected to attend that meeting.

Past Prize Winners

2014 - Rahul Mukherjee

2013 - Nadine Levin

2012 - Joeri Bruyninckx

2011 - Sara Wylie

2010 - Ian Mosby

2009 - Manjari Mahajan

2008 - Jenna Burrell

2007 - Teun Zuiderent-Jerak

2006 - Natasha Myers

2005 - Michael Oldani

2004 - Jennifer Fishman

2003 - Park Doing

2002 - Doug Davis

2001 - Karen Flint

2000 - Cyrus Mody

1998 - Sean Hsiang-lin Lei

1997 - Massimiano Bucchi

1996 - Janelle Taylor

1995 - Stefan Helmreich

1994 - Marc Berg

1993 - Joseph O'Connell

1992 - Shahaf Gal

1991 - Stephan Hirschauer