STS and normativity: analyzing and enacting values
Location 132
Date and Start Time 02 September, 2016 at 09:00
Sessions 4


  • Jeannette Pols (Amsterdam Medical Centre/University of Amsterdam) email
  • Dick Willems (Academic Medical Centre, University of Amsterdam) email
  • Mette N. Svendsen (University of Copenhagen) email

Mail All Convenors

Short Abstract

Recently, normativity-in-the-making has emerged as a concern in STS research. This track invites papers on empirical studies on values and/ or on the normativity that STS researchers produce when writing about these practices.

Long Abstract

Recently, normativity-in-the-making has emerged as a concern in STS research. Normativity is approached in two ways.

First, STS analyses values, norms and ways of establishing worth enacted by the sciences and the other fields we study, through their use of methods, technologies, cut-off points, lab animals, and so on. We may then ask, for instance, what 'registers of valuing' (e.g. economic and aesthetic ones) emerge in practice, how do they relate, and what escapes these? Issues may concern matters of life and death, and what it means to be 'human'. How is the worth of living (survival, prevention, longevity, quality of life, etc) shaped when human life is extended in new ways? What kind of care work can robots do, and which parts are 'strictly human'?

Second, there is the normativity of doing STS work itself. Following feminist critiques on the seemingly descriptive tasks that STS research has appointed for itself, there has been much debate about the ways in which STS research enacts values and or takes position. New images, sensitivities and meanings come to life in ethnographic accounts of practices and technologies, and present participants with new ways to think about their practices. In this way STS research also interferes in normative debates that surround the practices studied. How do we interfere? Is there still a space for 'critique' or are there 'other means'?

This track invites papers on empirical studies on values and/ or on the normativity that STS researchers produce when writing about these practices.

SESSIONS: 5/5/5/5

This track is closed to new paper proposals.


The potentially fit - enacting value in old age

Author: Malene Bødker (University of Copenhagen)  email

Short Abstract

This paper explores how the notion of potential unfolds in enabling care for older people in asking how value is enacted in enabling care policy and practice through the definition, identification and realisation of potential and with what implications for eldercare workers and older citizens.

Long Abstract

The notion of potential appears as a fundamental allocation principle in relation to enabling care. Enabling care is an eldercare model aiming at substituting long-term care arrangements for short-term home-based training courses and appears as a central policy solution to minimising the growing ageing popula-tion's demand for eldercare services. In this context, it is essential that enabling care is targeted those that will benefit from it, i.e. those with potential. This paper sets out to explore how the notion of potential unfolds in a Danish enabling care setting. More specifically, the paper investigates how value is enacted through the political and practical tasks of defining, identifying and realising older citizens' potential and with what implications for eldercare workers and older citizens. The empirical material consists of policy documents, interviews with eldercare workers and observations of interactions between eldercare workers and citizens being assessed for their eligibility for and possibly undergoing enabling care. I argue that politically, potential is defined in terms of economic value. In eldercare workers' practical identification and realisation of potential, however, potential appears as a much more complex entity. Through the use of assessment tools and gathering of information from various actors, including hospital staff, GPs, relatives and citizens themselves, other types of value, such as dignity and quality of life, often appear; values that must be weighed against each other. Potential therefore emerges as a highly fluid and negotiable entity existing in landscape of competing values, which it is up to eldercare workers to navigate in.

Valuing Life's Ends: Old Age in Postsocialist Poland

Author: Jessica Robbins-Ruszkowski (Wayne State University)  email

Short Abstract

Gerontological and popular visions of aging oppose a normative “third age” of health and independence to a “fourth age” of illness and dependence. However, ethnographic research in Poland that attends to practices of care, relatedness, and memory shows that other values emerge at life’s ends.

Long Abstract

Gerontological and popular visions of old age oppose a normative "third age" of health and independence to a "fourth age" of illness and dependence. Like concepts of "successful," "active," "healthy," or "productive" aging, the "third age" is underpinned by modernist visions of the life course. In contemporary Poland, educational institutions for older adults, or Universities of the Third Age (UTAs), are the most visible example of this increasingly valued form of late life. Older Poles who participate in UTAs often understand such experiences in political-economic and spatiotemporal terms; attending UTAs is associated with living in a world reshaped by postsocialist transformations and EU membership. Certain activities indexical of the new world order provide the most potential for older Poles to become what one institutional leader has called "Euroseniors." Yet this focus on the new (e.g., English, computers) ignores other "traditional" practices (e.g., embroidery, gardening, religious practices) through which Poles—even those in the so-called "fourth age"—achieve a worthy old age.

Indeed, twenty-two months of ethnographic research shows that similar practices of sociality occur among diverse groups of older Poles, demonstrating that moral personhood is possible for people who fall outside normative models of old age. This finding suggests that: 1) normative gerontological and postsocialist analytic frameworks cannot fully explain the complexities of experiences and imaginations of old age in Poland, and 2) attending to practices of care, relatedness, and memory can help to overcome normative modes of producing knowledge about the values that emerge at life's ends.

Institutional Technologies: Studying and Shifting the "Value" of Elderly Persons

Author: Lillian Prueher (University of Washington)  email

Short Abstract

This paper analyzes how the act of studying technologies connected to institutional interventions around enacting personhood in eldercare institutions in Chengdu, China can, by influencing forms of sociality within these spaces, also contribute to shifting the nature of these institutional acts.

Long Abstract

People live not in isolation, but deeply embedded in social networks. This sociality can influence not only individuals' lived experiences, but also the way their personhood is, or is not, recognized and enacted by others on a daily basis. As lifespans increase, individuals' shifting healthcare needs can force them to seek care in new settings and thus enter into new kinds of social relationships, as well.

This paper examines non-family-based, formal eldercare institutions as sites where personhood, or one's "value" as a person, can become altered by the new social conditions and living arrangements within these settings. Considering personhood as relationally defined, this paper draws on materials and observations collected in and around Chengdu, China to examine how formal eldercare sites use various institutional interventions to create norms and techniques that transform how the institutions, themselves, operate as technologies of care. This paper closes with an analysis of the implications studying such institutional interventions might have for care norms and practices within these spaces.

Funding Statement:

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program under Grant No. DGE-1256082.

"But the robot cannot refill the plate like a hostess normally does"

Author: Maja Hojer Bruun (Aalborg University)  email

Short Abstract

This paper discusses the valuation practices and research and implementation ethics related to a real-life testing of a social robot in a Danish rehabilitation centre.

Long Abstract

In Denmark, health service robots and social robots are part of a political interest in welfare technological innovation and the opportunities that spring from new welfare technology to improve, rationalize, and make more efficient public health, care institutions and care for an aging population in their own homes. This paper is based on an anthropological fieldwork conducted in a municipal rehabilitation centre that is also functioning as a test centre for new welfare technology. In an experimental testing of a particular humanoid telecommunication robot several valuation practices and registers of valuing were enacted at the same time: An interdisciplinary team of researchers tested the robot for its capacities in human-robot interactions and valued the test site as a living lab; in the municipality's strategic welfare technology unit the test was the enactment of cutting-edge technology development; and the occupational therapists at the rehabilitation centre were practically implementing the robot in their therapeutic work with citizens. In the end, the worth of the robot emerged in several unanticipated ways.

Testing the humanoid robot in a real-life setting, and in the particular so-called dining situation aimed at socialising through dining, gave rise to ethical issues that the practitioners of different disciplines and professions construed in different ways. Participation in the test of course involved informed consent but the staff also raised questions of relational ethics and the subject positions that were actualized in the test setting and whether these matched the rehabilitation programme's overall objectives.

Friendship at the Margins: Practicing Value and Personhood in the Face of Dementia

Author: Janelle Taylor (University of Washington)  email

Short Abstract

How are personhood and the worth of life practiced in the context of everyday life? This paper draws on interview-based research to explore how friends respond to the onset of dementia. At stake are the making and unmaking of persons, relationships, and the worth of life at the margins of aging.

Long Abstract

How are personhood and the worth of life practiced in the context of everyday life? This paper explores such questions empirically, drawing on interview-based research about friendship and dementia. Dementia progressively erodes the capacities for memory, language, and cognition that tend to be regarded as the necessary foundation of individual identity and personhood. In the process, dementia also challenges friendship relations: a friend with dementia may lose the capacity to engage in the activities that have been enjoyed in common, may lose the memory of shared histories, and may no longer be able to produce the expected signs of recognition. In comparison with kinship, where obligations to care are more generally recognized (though clearly not always fulfilled), it is less clear what friendship means, allows, or requires in the face of dementia. How do people confronting the onset of cognitive losses in a friend make sense of this situation, and how do these sensibilities guide social action? If persons are socially constructed, then it is vital to understand how this happens in contexts where the outcome is very uncertain. Will friends, or others whose connection is at least initially more tenuous, "hold someone in personhood" when cognitive losses render claims to personhood fragile? Or will they retreat, withdraw, and thus contribute to the erosion of personhood in situations of dementia? The consequences can be enormous. Indeed, at stake is nothing less than the making and unmaking of persons, relationships, and the worth of life at the margins of aging.

Making and Doing: Engagement and Reflexive Learning in STS

Authors: Teun Zuiderent-Jerak (Linköping University)  email
Gary Downey (Virginia Tech)  email

Short Abstract

STS making and doing builds on linked practices of engagement and reflexivity by calling attention to the two-way–or multiple-way–travels of knowledge production and expression. What are the return flows–the normative and conceptual learning–that making and doing activities generate?

Long Abstract

STS making and doing involves a wide range of emerging scholarly activities that turn STS lessons about the non-linearity of knowledge production, expression, and travel, and about the strength of material agency, onto STS engagements. Our involvement in the practices we study is not a unidirectional process of bringing STS insights into an otherwise conceptually deficient world. It rather produces an experimental setup that allows us to find out more about our scholarly/normative commitments, about the practice we want to study, and about how these interrelate. If STS notions, such as 'construction', 'translation', and 'co-production,' apply equally to our own scholarly work, making and doing initiatives can produce some tangible lessons for STS - in terms of both our concepts and our normativities.

In this paper we review a range of STS making and doing activities, including those presented during the 2015 4S meeting during the Making and Doing Program. We study their elements and ecological dimensions to address the ruptures such initiatives produce. Such ruptures change the empirical domain as well as STS understandings, conceptually and normatively alike. How do different approaches to STS making and doing deal with ruptures, controversies, and, sometimes, successes? What are we learning from them? And how do scholars string together engagements with reflexive learning?

Unruly bodies and palliative care: presencing selflessness

Author: Bernike Pasveer (Maastricht University )  email

Short Abstract

Institutionalized palliative care (PC) has continuously opened up its ways of providing a good death to newly presenced, unruly, body-categories. But the discrete self of the dying person has remained a cornerstone of PC. I presence selflessness as a way of (re)situating palliative and hospice care.

Long Abstract

Before the 1950s death and dying took place largely 'without biomedicine'. From then on, high-tech medicine annexed dying under the umbrella of heroic life-prolonging interventions, while simultaneously rendering the very process of dying largely invisible. In the 1970s, the palliative and hospice movements emerged as a critique on this model of (not) dealing with death and dying. The plea was, and still is, to install practices and an ethics that would articulate dying as a distinguished process that would require specific care.

The recent history of institutionalized palliative and hospice care shows a remarkable flexibility of continuously opening up normalized ways to die well. In de 1970's, end-of-life care for cancer patients became the main paradigm in the western world. From the late 1980s onwards other body-categories are being presenced as also in need of such care, and practices are continuously modified so as to accomodate them. These unruly bodies demonstrate the situatedness of existing arrangements: their fit to deal with specific rather than all bodies.

Ho, this flexibility seems to have been accompanied by a strong naturalization of what a 'good death' would entail: constitutive to goodness is the discrete, autonomous self of the dying person. Self-less persons (migrants, demented people) appear as tremendously troubling - unruly but apparently without being able to alter and accomodate concepts and practices.

This paper sets out to situate and thus unnaturalize this moral economy of goodness. I will presence the self-less body as unruly, and try to propose modes of re-situating.

The quantification of the good life

Authors: Dick Willems (Academic Medical Centre, University of Amsterdam)  email
Erik Olsman (Academic Medical Center, University of Amsterdam)  email
Marga Nieuwenhuijse (AMC)  email

Short Abstract

In health care and politics nowadays, value in the sense of 'the good life' is turned into a quality of life score. We study a practice where 'quality quantification' seems impossible: caring for people with severe multiple handicaps. In doing this, the study sheds light on the normativity of STS approaches.

Long Abstract

Quality of life (QoL) is becoming a central concept in health care, especially in allocation decisions. Crucial for all versions of the concept is a system of techniques (a technology) of quantification which includes instruments for self-scoring and for quantified observation. Attempts are made to integrate the various techniques into a 'dashboard' of measurers.

I will report on a study that is, ironically, part of a national research program aiming at the construction of such a 'dashboard'. Using ethnography and interviewing, it studies practices of the good life in an area where quantitative techniques get into serious trouble: the care for people with very severe and multiple handicaps, who will never reach a cognitive development above 2 years of age and have several other problems, such as epilepsy and self-injuring behaviour.

The problem is that quantification of QoL may lead to restrictions in the care for these people (they will score very low with hardly any chance of improvement); non-quantification, however, may have the identical effect. The issue is whether qualitative forms of QoL assessment (stories, images, interactions) should and can be made to do the political work that quantitative instruments are increasingly made to do.

On the basis of our empirical work, I will try to show, firstly, why STS approaches, with their sensibility to the normative workings of things and with their focus on qualitative work, are crucial here. Secondly, I will argue that studies such as this may be fruitful to develop the normativity of STS itself.

Ethics by neurological means: moral repertoires of a plastic brain

Author: Ties van de Werff (Maastricht University)  email

Short Abstract

The notion of brain plasticity plays a key role in popular neuro-interventions. This paper shows how the plastic brain is made valuable in three discursive practices of a brain-inspired good life, and argues that values and ideas of the good are part and parcel of the diffusion of neuroscience to society.

Long Abstract

In the past decade, the brain has emerged in various societal and scholarly domains as a popular means for understanding and changing human behavior. Key to the spread of neuroscience knowledge from the lab to society is the concept of brain plasticity: the ability of the brain to change its functions or structure. The notion of brain plasticity 'opens up' the brain for all kinds of interventions (Abi-Rached & Rose, 2013) and invites actors to do something with it, invoking specific action programs, values, and ideals. Ranging from self-help manuals, management literature and brain games, popular interventions based on brain plasticity seem to address the timely ethical question of how to lead a good life.

In this talk, I explore how the plastic brain precisely is made valuable for addressing these ethical concerns. Based on an empirical philosophy informed analysis of three discursive practices of a brain-inspired good life - parenting teenage brains; working the mindful brain; and caring for ageing brains - I show how the notion of the plastic brain enables actors to enact, stabilize and challenge different (and sometimes conflicting) ideas of the good. I further show that these valuations of the plastic brain occur through recurring patterns of moral argumentation, which I dub 'moral repertoires'. I argue that the explanatory power of neurobiological claims does not come from the promise of finally unraveling what it means to be human. Rather, it results from the versatile ways brain facts can be used as 'ethics by other means'.

Judging genomics: The role of STS critique in an era of complexity

Author: Nicole Nelson (University of Wisconsin Madison)  email

Short Abstract

This paper will examine normativity both empirically and reflexively, focusing on the value attributed to genetic explanations for behavioral disorders both in animal model research and in STS work.

Long Abstract

Genetic research, especially behavior genetics research, has been the subject of many pointed critiques about its purportedly determinist and reductionist tendencies. STS scholars and others have been critical of the very idea that multi-faceted human phenomena can be meaningfully related to molecular sequences, and of the political implications of directing attention and resources towards biomedical solutions for behavioral problems. But STS scholars have also argued that these critiques seem to miss the mark in their characterization of contemporary genomics, with its increasing focus on complexity, susceptibilities, and personalization. Using ethnographic research from an animal behavior genetics laboratory, I show that what counts as good research for animal modelers and the way these values relate to their conceptions of genetic explanation are not straightforward—researchers value reductionist methods, for example, because they view them as useful tools for addressing the complexity of behavioral disorders, not because they see them as accurate representations of the molecular underpinnings of behavior. These findings raise difficult questions about the role of the STS analyst. If we continue to critique geneticists' research outputs without examining the values and experiences that inform them, we risk treating scientists as "cultural dopes" who uncritically reproduce reductionist thought. Ethnographic descriptions offer a useful corrective for this problem, but do not offer an obvious path towards a new normative STS project. I will conclude by offering some speculative thoughts on potential modes of engagement between STS and genomics that are not based on judging the science and finding it lacking.

Life with a View: Worth, Temporality and Substitution across Species and Spaces

Authors: Mette N. Svendsen (University of Copenhagen)  email
Laura Navne (University of Copenhagen)  email
Mie Seest Dam (University of Copenhagen)  email
Iben Gjødsbøl (University of Copenhagen)  email

Short Abstract

This paper places itself at the margins of the self-evidently human and compares negotiations of life’s worth in a neonatal intensive care unit, an animal laboratory, and a dementia nursing home in Denmark.

Long Abstract

This paper places itself at the margins of the self-evidently human and compares negotiations of life's worth in a neonatal intensive care unit, an animal laboratory, and a dementia nursing home in Denmark. Through ethnographic analysis we trace practices around liminal lives that cannot enact "autonomy" and are heavily dependent on others to substitute them. The comparisons we employ do not travel over great distances, but across categories of newborn and old, human and animal. This multispecies perspective not only provides a lens for investigating how worth is enacted and how interdependence conditions the worthy human. More profoundly, in moving across species and spaces we become alerted to the porosity of the category of the worthy human in time and collectivity.

Being-with-incontinence. Exploring relations between skill and values in care practices

Author: Maartje Hoogsteyns (AMC - University of Amsterdam)  email

Short Abstract

In this paper I will explore the relation between values and skill in care practice. I will use existing notions about skill in STS, developed in relation to practices of science and passion, and then translate them to the specific values of people trying to live a good life with incontinence

Long Abstract

In STS we know how to involve technologies in thinking about enacted values. Also, we consider people, things, values, institutions not as pre-given, but as 'becoming' in relation to each other. In this paper, I want to focus on a specific version of 'relational becoming', namely skill. Following the work of Foucault, Latour, Hennion and Gomart, and Ingold, skill is interpreted as a process of domestication, of taming and being tamed, leading to attachment, flow and play. Skill results in new ways-of-being-with, for both subject and object. In STS, these notions of skill are used to analyze science practices or practices of passion/craft, i.e. of music amateurs, drug users, 'noses'. What happens if we relate the concept of skill to the enactment of values, and more specifically, values related to living-with-a-illness? I will start from the idea that in order to value something one first has to learn how to be affected by that something. And that implies skill. Next, I will use the concept of skill to study incontinence care. In what ways do skills and values related to 'being taken over by music/drugs' differ from those related to 'living a good life with incontinence'? What are the concerns? What happens when a person does not want to learn how to be affected? Or when technologies (such as diapers) offer few possibilities to be affected? And finally, what can we learn from this case study about the notion of skill and values in STS?

Diagnosing Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder with Normative Uncertainties

Author: Fan-Tzu Tseng (Academia Sinica)  email

Short Abstract

Diagnosing ADHD involves normative practices with different levels. Besides differentiating mental health and disorder, the diagnosis process reshapes and is shaped by the norms and worth socially ascribed to the child and childhood, as well as reconfigures the aim and task of psychiatry itself.

Long Abstract

The global surge in attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), the most prevalent mental disorder during childhood, continues to reshape the norms and worth socially ascribed to children. However, the ambivalence of the diagnostic criteria (in terms of seemingly deviant behavioral symptoms without cognitive problems), treatment modalities (mainly the physical and social psychological side effects of stimulant medications), and bio-pathological basis (lack of specific biomedical evidence) related to ADHD adds clinical uncertainty to the practice of psychiatrists. Clinicians do not practice in a vacuum. Their experiences in diagnosing and treating ADHD-suspected children are affected by well-publicized concerns and controversies about ADHD. By analyzing in-depth interview data from 10 psychiatrists in Taiwan, this study elucidates how psychiatrists harbor varying degrees of clinical uncertainty regarding ADHD. Every diagnostic strategy employed by psychiatrists involves a whole set of presuppositions regarding the ontology, epistemology, and methodology of mental disorders (that is, "What is ADHD?" "How is ADHD diagnosed correctly?" and "How is ADHD treated properly?"), as well as the normative expectations regarding "the child" and "the childhood" per se (such as "What are the normal behaviors of naughty boys?" "What is the nature of the childhood?" and "What is 'the best' for a given child?). At the same time, the aim and task of psychiatry itself (for example, "Is psychiatry a tool of social control?" "What exactly is a psychiatrist's role in the face of the entangling biological and environmental factors surrounding a child's condition?") is continually reflected and reconfigured during the process of diagnosing ADHD.

The morality of knowledge claims: negotiating motherhood and expertise in discussions on ADHD

Authors: Hedwig te Molder (University of Twente)  email
Wytske Versteeg (University of Twente)  email

Short Abstract

This paper focuses on the hidden morality of knowledge claims in radio phone-ins on ADHD. It shows how parents of children with ADHD, refrain from providing details of their children's problematic behaviour in order to build their child's condition as 'doctorable' instead of being 'mere naughtiness'.

Long Abstract

This paper uses Conversation Analysis and Discursive Psychology to add a new dimension to the discussion in STS on normativity-in-the-making. CA and DP reveal the routinely implicit orientation to what is normal and proper by studying talk and bodily conduct in natural interactions which are not brought about by a researcher. The current paper focuses on the morality of knowledge claims in British radio phone-ins on ADHD. We show how mothers typically claim knowledge about their children's good intentions but not regarding the 'ADHD-ness' of their children's problematic behaviour. By only claiming the knowledge appropriate for a concerned parent, callers treat their children's behaviour as a matter of expert knowledge and therefore as 'doctorable'. We argue that every detailed description of the child's problematic behaviour by the mother makes it inadvertently available to other lay contestants, and thus vulnerable to being formulated as 'normal disobedience'. Implicitly present in what seems a struggle about the nature of ADHD is the moral question as to how 'the good mother' should know her child. A good mother is expected to show a certain amount of knowledge about her child (enough to know that something is wrong), but in order to claim that the troubling behaviour is symptomatic of the doctorable condition ADHD, she has to refrain from the kind of knowledge about her child that would be an expert's prerogative. It is suggested that STS should pay more attention to the ways in which participants negotiate their epistemic-moral territories in real-life situations.

Nursing telecare practices craft new nursing knowledge

Author: Annemarie van Hout (Windesheim University of Applied Sciences)  email

Short Abstract

Technology turns nursing care into an absent profession with new skills in new practices. Technology has brought on opportunities for good care, which are not habitually reflected on or debated between nurses. We want to explore situated nursing knowledge that represents new skills and nursing practices.

Long Abstract

Technology shifts nursing care to an absent profession: physical presence is no longer conditional when nurses and patients perform telecare. The well-worn actions nurses perform at the bedside are replaced by new skills for telecare. Nursing scholars and nursing schools are already paying attention to these new skills for day to day practices. By defining the required skills for telecare we may not grasp the changes in the profession completely though. There are questions to be raised on the relation between new skills, new practices and new knowledge, as all define a profession. In a current research project we are already paying attention to how telecare leads to new nursing practices. We see how technology has brought on new opportunities for good care, but also how nurses do not discuss among themselves what defines these new practices and what consequences they have for their profession. This might be brought on by the fact that the new practices are difficult to name (Hirschauer, 2006). This paper wants to explore if new nursing skills and practices call for or represent new nursing knowledge. In the slipstream of Haraway's situated knowledge, as applied by Puig de la Bellacase (2012), we want name and discuss new nursing knowledge, hence 'thinking-with' and 'dissenting-with' the nursing profession, taking care of the knowledge and the relations that come with it.

STS goes normative. Exploring values, crafting the good.

Author: Jeannette Pols (Amsterdam Medical Centre/University of Amsterdam)  email

Short Abstract

In this presentation I will explore how ‘the turn to normativity’ might provide a vocabulary to develop more symmetry between STS and the knowledge practices of our colleagues, by arguing that how normativity of STS is not pre-given, but develops in the course of doing fieldwork and collaborative research.

Long Abstract

In STS study of knowledge practices, a strict separation between facts and values is not tenable. Knowledge has been described as being produced through the use of particular 'scripted' research techniques (Akrich 1992), by aligning particular kinds of audience with particular kinds of promises and modes of production (Brown 2003), and so on. This is an important lesson from early science studies: studying an object is simultaneously shaping it through material research practices and through concepts and methodologies. Interestingly, however, STS scholars analyzed how their scientific colleagues produced facts, but fell silent (or chickened out) when the facts were established, or when it came to their own ways of producing knowledge. In this presentation I will explore how 'the turn to normativity' might provide a vocabulary to develop more symmetry between STS and the knowledge practices of our colleagues, by arguing how normativity of STS is not pre-given, but develops in the course of doing fieldwork and collaborative research (Marcus 2013). To make the argument I will talk through an ethnographic case study of ALS patients anticipating living with a feeding tube, in relation to evaluations made of the tube in medical research.

Economic Inequality: Science and/or Morality

Author: Raphael Sassower (University of Colorado)  email

Short Abstract

The economic model of "the commons" is examined in scientific and moral terms so as to clarify that frames of reference determine the views we accept and adopt. This is highlighted both in the Digital Age and in an age of wealth and income inequalities.

Long Abstract

One feature of the social study of science includes the reconsideration of frames of reference within which any set of knowledge claims are considered scientific. Economic theory in the past century has made claims for scientific status unimagined by the likes of Adam Smith, whose own "Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations" (1776) rested on his earlier work on moral sentiments (1759). Contemporary arguments about wealth and income inequalities rest both on economic arguments (bolstered by econometric models) as well as moral ones. My intent here isn't simply to provide yet another Marxist critique of political economy, but rather to suggest that the framing of issues (as Daniel Kahneman reminds us 2011) dramatically contributes to the ways in which we look at them, and eventually the choices we make about them. Therefore, looking at the economic relations among people and nation-states from a moral perspective may undermine the rectitude claimed for economic models. The contested notion and practice of the "commons" (or Public Goods)—as applied in the Digital Age—is a perfect case-study or such "model."

Modulating values by managing human and animal faces: Considering technologies of (ef)facement

Author: Sophia Efstathiou (Norwegian Uni. of Science and Technology)  email

Short Abstract

I argue that a key component for shaping and managing the normativities of animal research are, what I call, ‘technologies of (ef)facement’: tools, rituals, techniques or architectures whose engagement results in a loss of face (and often in the creation of a new one).

Long Abstract

I argue that knowing through animal research is inextricably tied up with the possibility of knowing animals through their 'face': understood as the surfaces facing us - faces and bodies (Morris 2007). Experimental design in animal studies negotiates between conceiving of the animals involved as "faceless", laboratory equipment, bought, quality checked and discarded once used, and as other animals that humans "face", whose behaviours, pains and bodies animal researchers can and should relate to their own. I argue that a key component shaping and managing the normativities of animal research are 'technologies of (ef)facement'. These are tools, rituals, techniques or architectures whose engagement results in a loss of face (and often in the creation of a new one): a transformation of physical appearance, social role or habitus that comes with a change in one´s perceived ethical standing or moral responsibilities. I propose that these performative strategies are key enablers for coming to be a researcher seeing an animal as what Michael Lynch calls an "analytic" object (Lynch 1988). However these strategies are not absolute. The categorical and felt alignment between experimental organisms and humans as animals with faces will by default raise ethical questions regarding our responsibilities to both animals and humans involved in animal research.

Lynch, M. (1988), "Sacrifice and the transformation of the animal body into a scientific object: Laboratory culture and ritual practice in the neurosciences" Social Studies of Science, 18(2), 265-289

Morris, D. (2007), "Faces and the Invisible of the Visible: Toward an Animal Ontology" PhaenEx 2, no. 2: 124-169

Non-innocent norms: Normativity within activist, research and theoretical conceptualisations of care within the primate laboratory

Author: Eva Giraud (Keele University)  email

Short Abstract

This paper explores how care’s ‘darker’ side is articulated within research, activist and media narratives about primate research, elucidating how normative, politically inhibitive, understandings of care persist within both formal ethical frameworks and critical STS analyses of these frameworks.

Long Abstract

This paper asks whether recent theoretical understandings of care within the animal laboratory can themselves have a normative dimension. The paper examines this question by contrasting different understandings of care articulated during controversies surrounding the use of macaque monkeys in deep brain stimulation research in the UK (2003-2008). These controversies are then read against recent STS research that has called for more affective, responsive modes of care within laboratory work (e.g. Haraway, 2008; Despret, 2013). During these controversies appeals to care were made across activist, research and media narratives, with many of these appeals grounded in pre-existing ethical values (such as 'rights') or normative regulatory frameworks, both of which have been criticised within feminist science studies for failing to be responsive to individual animals and specific contexts. Appeals to somatic modes of care (as advocated by recent theoretical literature), however, were also made by different interlocutors, but even these were used to legitimate pre-existing conceptions of human-animal relations, rather than open up new questions or prompt new forms of responsibility. The paper illustrates, therefore, how both normative regulatory frameworks and more affective accounts of care can be leveraged for instrumental purposes. The paper thus contributes to recent explorations of the importance of care within science studies (e.g. Puig de la Bellacasa, 2011), by conceptualising some of its 'darker' (Martin et al., 2015), more 'violent' (Van Dooren, 2014) and instrumental (Giraud and Hollin, 2016) dimensions.

Being a skilled human. The values enacted by accreditation agencies who evaluate internationalisation in higher education

Author: Antoinette de Bont (Erasmus University Rotterdam)  email

Short Abstract

In this paper I analyse the values enacted by accreditation agencies by the way they evaluate internationalisation in higher education. The method is an analytical auto-ethnography. I describe how accreditation is formatted to understand which values internationalisation brings in.

Long Abstract

Universities aim for the internationalization of education via student mobility and joint programs. In this paper I analyse the values enacted by accreditation agencies through the way they evaluate internationalisation in higher education and establish new labels of excellence. Internationalisation is charged with dominant values - such as thriving for the best and being a citizen of the world. In this paper I describe and reflect upon how accreditation is demanded and formatted (Dahler-Larsen 2012). My aim is understand which norms and values internationalisation of education brings in. I use the methods of an analytical auto-ethnography (Denshire 2014). I describe and reflect upon my role as an international program director with the task to get the international joint degree accredited in four countries. I did an extensive member check to be able reflect on the normativity that comes with writing about the accreditation of an international joint degree. In the accreditation process internationalization itself became a significant problem. Being international became being excellent (instead of the other way round). Moreover, internationalization became charged with specific values: being flexible, be able to act everywhere, being employable. Both the students and the staff developed into 'sociological' citizens and - in that sense - complied with the dominant norms of internationalization: being pragmatic, flexible, adaptive and able to connect to others.

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