Social construction of technology coming of age: new challenges and opportunities ahead

– Workshop in Trondheim, June 3-5, 2014

In 1984, Trevor Pinch and Wiebe Bijker published their seminal paper "The social construction of facts and artifacts - or how the sociology of science and the sociology of technology might benefit each other" in Social Studies of Science. Thus, in 2014, we may look back at 30 years of scholarly efforts of studying social construction of technology through the SCOT model and related approaches. This workshop is meant as a celebration but also as an invitation to look forward. How should we assess the achievements of social construction of technology efforts? What are the promising avenues for the future of technology studies? Where are the theoretical challenges and opportunities that will take the field forward?

The SCOT model together with the social shaping of technology, large technical systems and actor network theory emerged in the early 1980s to mark the development of what used to be called ‘the new sociology of technology' (now more commonly is put under the label of ‘technology studies').  This gave a boost to social science and humanities' approaches to the analysis of the making and use of technology, making technology studies a fairly large and vibrant field of research.

The workshop is intended to serve three main purposes. First, it will provide a retrospect on the emergence of the social construction of technology approach. Second, the workshop shall engage with assessments of what has been achieved during the 30 years that have passed since the publication of the initial SCOT paper. Third, we hope that the workshop will be an arena for debates about the way forward. What are the exciting new theories and concept that may guide technology studies in the years to come?

The workshop will be held in Trondheim, Norway, June 3-5 2014. It will consist of a mix of invited talks, presentation of papers, and poster sessions. Keynote speakers include Wiebe E. Bijker, Trevor J. Pinch, Vivian A. Lagesen, Nelly Oudshoorn, Ranjit Singh and Robin Williams.

We plan to use the workshop as a basis for publication of a special issue and/or edited volume. PhD-students may use the workshop as a course to get 5 credit points (ECTS) if they present a paper or write a paper after the workshop.

The workshop is organised by Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), Centre for Technology and Society, Department of Interdisciplinary Studies of Culture. Organisers: Professor Vivian A. Lagesen and Professor Knut H. Sørensen.

Social construction of technology coming of age: new challenges and opportunities ahead



Location: Trondheim, Suhmhuset (map)

Tuesday, June 3

1000      Coffee and registration
1100      Opening and welcome
1130      The emergence of the social construction of technology approach

  • Ranjit Singh, Cornell University: "Back to the Future: Situating the 'T' in 'STS'"
  • Wiebe E. Bijker, Maastricht University, and Trevor J. Pinch, Cornell University: "Reactions and Reflections"

1300      Lunch
1400      (The emergence … continues)
1500      Paper session I: SCOT and beyond

1500      Gretchen Gano, Arizona State University: "The Megamachine: Lewis Mumford's Vision of Technological society and Implications for (participatory) Technology Assessment"
1520      Håkon Fyhn and Jens Røyrvik, NTNU: «An anthropology of technology»
1540      Christian Clausen, Aalborg University Copenhagen and Yutaka Yoshinaka (Technical University of Denmark): "From social construction of technology to staging sociotechnical spaces for design"
1600      TBA

1620      Coffee
1640      Paper session II: Constructions of virtuality

1640      Michael McGovern, University of Cambridge: "Stack, pacs, and system hacks: Handheld calculators as an alternative history of personal computing"
1700       Kristine Ask, NTNU: "Playing with UnReal Lives: The construction of gender and virtuality in online games"
1720      Klara Benda, Georgia Institute of Technology: "Making space for the human mind in social accounts of innovation: a distributed cognition account of the design of an open-source software platform for higher education"
1740     Barton Friedland, Warwick Business School: "Agency, practices of leadership, and the roles of computational objects"

1800      End of day

Wednesday, June 4

0900      Robin Williams, University of Edinburgh: "Still under construction"
1000      Coffee
1020      Paper session III: Seeing, designing, closing

1020      Merete Lie, NTNU: "Medical Imaging and the Domestication of Assisted Reproductive Technologies"
1040      Anja Johansen, NTNU: "Critical engagement with science and technology in art and STS"
1100      Ulrik Jørgensen, Aalborg University Copenhagen: "The design challenge to technology studies – on emergence, agency and anticipation"
1120      Elena Parmiggiani, Eric Monteiro and Petter Grytten Almklov, NTNU: "Where Oil and Gas Find LoVe"
1140      Eduard Aibar and Peter Dunajcsik-Maxigas: "Closure and stabilization in open source artefacts"

1200      Lunch
1300      Poster session I: Regulating constructions

  • Nina Baron, Aarhus University Copenhagen: "An ANT analysis of a LAR (Local handling of rainwater) project in a housing cooperative in Copenhagen
  • Marius Korsnes, NTNU: "Contested visions of China's offshore wind industry"
  • Håkon B. Stokland, NTNU: "The New Scandinavian Wolves: Preserving by Transforming in the Age of Biodiversity"
  • Ivar J. Tunheim, NTNU: "Understanding the road as a social constructivist phenomenon" Trine Unander, NTNU: "The Social Construction of Monster Pylons"
  • Heidrun Åm, NTNU: "Analyzing the co-production of nanotechnology regulations"

1500      Coffee
1530      Paper session IV: Energy constructions

1530      Lea Fuenfschilling, Eawag, Duebendorf, and Bernhard Truffer, University of Lucerne: "A dynamic approach towards socio-technical change – Institutions, actors and technologies in interaction"
1550      Nils Markusson, Lancaster University and Katharine Farrell, Humboldt University of Berlin: "Constitutive tensions in geoengineering technology discourse: Explaining ambivalence differentials"
1610      Philippa Boyd, University of Reading: "SCOT, construction work and the uptake of low carbon technologies"
1630      Break
1640      Marianne Ryghaug and Helen Jøsok Gansmo, NTNU: "What can we learn from the socialization of the electric car in Norway? Thoughts on technology development, technology citizenship and public engagement with technology"
1700      Felix Tilmann Vahle, Lund University, and Marc Dijk, Maastricht University: "How ‘Elektromobilität' differs from ‘Électromobilité' – An extended social constructivist perspective on electric mobility in Germany and France"
1720      Ivana Damnjanović, University of Belgrade: "Are relevant social groups created equal – social construction of public transport in Belgrade"
1740      Klaus S. Friesenbichler, Austrian Institute of Economic Research: "Smart grids as a social construct – Capital formation in the electricity sector of the EU"

1800      End of day

Thursday, June 5

0900      Nelly Oudshoorn, University of Twente: "How users still matter"
1000      Coffee
1010      Poster session II: Making sense of technologies

  • Petter Almklow, NTNU Social Research: "Differences that makes a difference and machines of differentiation"
  • Søsser Brodersen and Hanne Lindegaard, Aalborg University: "'Inscripting Ability' –  Actor/artefact relations in design of Assistive Technologies"
  • Johan Gärdebo, KTH Stockholm: "The Social Construction of Remote Sensing Satellites"
  • Sara Heidenreich, NTNU: "Outreaching, outsourcing, and disembedding: How offshore wind scientists consider their engagement with the public"
  • Vidar Hepsø and Marianne Ryghaug, NTNU: "Understanding technology qualification and development as a game of ‘Snakes and ladders'?"
  • Oskar Jansson, Olof Ljungström and Daniel Normark, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm: "Negotiating nominees: stabilizing a routine in appointing the Nobel prize in medicine or physiology"
  • Helga Sigurdardottir, Nord-Trøndelag University College and NTNU: "Preparing teachers to apply DGBL in education"
  • Knut H. Sørensen, NTNU: "Pragmatic constructivism"
  • Thomas Østerlie, NTNU Social Research: "Technological development and epistemic objects in offshore petroleum production"

1200      Lunch
1300      Closing session: The future of social construction of technology

  • Vivian A. Lagesen, NTNU: "The technological construction of gender"
  • Wiebe E. Bijker, Maastricht University: "SCOT and politics—SCOT for development?"
  • Trevor J. Pinch, Cornell University: "SCOT and Sound Studies"

1530     End of workshop