Programme

(T081)
Science and Technology for Social Justice
Location M215
Date and Start Time 02 September, 2016 at 11:00
Sessions 2

Convenors

  • Barbara Allen (Virginia Tech) email
  • Gwen Ottinger (Drexel University) email

Mail All Convenors

Chair Kristine Stiphany (The University of Texas at Austin, 1), Barbara Allen (Virginia Tech, 2)
Discussant Les Levidow (Open University, 1), Scott Frickel (Brown University, 2)

Short Abstract

We feature cases of science and technology for social justice, with particular attention to STS interventions. Papers will both report and reflect on collaborative efforts to invent more just forms and practices of technoscience.

Long Abstract

Social, economic, and environmental justice are often the goals of science and technology "by other means." STS scholars have critically examined the ways that citizens and lay people, including social movement groups, participate in knowledge production and technological innovation, integrating social values and moral concerns into their "technical" practices. Over time, STSers have come to play a more active role, contributing to, facilitating, and even initiating projects that appropriate and refashion the tools of science and technology for social justice ends.

In this track, we feature cases of science and technology for social justice, with particular attention to STS interventions. Papers will both report and reflect on collaborative efforts to invent more just forms and practices of technoscience, addressing questions such as: What has an STS orientation added to the project? What institutional arrangements have enabled it, or been created in the process of doing it? What new hybrids, assemblages, or collectives have emerged? How have project results become actionable? What political work have they done? At what cost? With what promise?

We welcome proposals for individual papers as well as for unconventionally formatted sessions, including roundtable discussions and hands-on workshops.

SESSIONS: 4/5

This track is closed to new paper proposals.

Papers

Experts organizing for environmental and social justice: Shadow mobilization in Greater Metro Boston

Authors: Scott Frickel (Brown University)  email
Apollonya Porcelli  email
Aaron Niznik (Brown University)  email
Amy Teller (Brown University)  email

Short Abstract

We explore how expert-activist networks are structured across the Greater Metro Boston area’s community development and environmental activist fields. These interactions can alter how social and environmental justice is won, as well as expert knowledge and practice at universities.

Long Abstract

The interactions of social movement activists and scientific experts have broad consequences for environmental governance and social justice. Previous research suggests that expert-activist networks or "shadow mobilizations" are important but understudied features of environmental and urban social movements. We are interested in studying these networks because of their theorized potential to enable greater and more effective collaboration between at-risk communities and knowledge professionals. Such interactions can transform how environmental and social justice is won at the grassroots and it can alter expert knowledge and practice "upstream" in science, engineering, legal and health fields.

We present findings from a comparative study of expert penetration of environmental and community development movements in Greater Metro Boston, which holds substantive and methodological advantages over previous studies. By holding geographical setting constant and simultaneously broadening our scope of analysis from individual organizations to social movement fields, we can study how different shadow mobilizations are structured and interact across a similar geographic/urban space. Quantitative data analysis of movement-related experts (n=511) will be combined with material from in-depth interviews (in process) to understand the assemblages that have emerged from academic interaction with social and environmental movement organizations (n=118) in a region dense with universities and expertise.

A Transdisciplinary Experiment: Deliberating Just Research on Vanishing Bees

Authors: Sainath Suryanarayanan (University of Wisconsin-Madison)  email
Daniel Kleinman  email

Short Abstract

We implemented a deliberative experiment to develop more just research on the problem of dying honey bees. Our results highlight the symbolic and organizational factors that affect stakeholder collaboration and how trust is formed in the face of epistemic, institutional, and cultural challenges.

Long Abstract

We present the results of a science & technology studies intervention to develop more just research on the problem of widespread honey bee deaths. As the primary pollinators of crop and plant communities in North America, the well-being of honey bees is closely intertwined with the livelihoods of beekeepers and pollinator-reliant growers, and the health of consumers and the price they pay for food. Our prior work showed that while scientists identify the problem of widespread bee deaths as being "multifactorial", epistemologically dominant research norms and practices limit the scope of entomological analyses to the direct effects of individual factors. As a result, serious consideration of the cumulative and interactive effects of multiple factors--a dynamic that non-scientist beekeepers' approaches point to-- is precluded, and beekeepers' knowledge claims and positions are marginalized in debates. In this study, we brought together a set of beekeepers, growers, university scientists and policymakers to deliberate about the most effective ways to understand the challenges facing honey bees. The project was an experiment in a double sense: Could we facilitate productive collaboration between beekeepers, growers, scientists, and regulators? Can deliberation among these stakeholders lead to a mode of undertaking scientific research that can capture the social and ecological complexity of bee die-offs, provide data of use to stakeholders and policymakers, and serve as a model for further scientific research? Our results highlight the symbolic and organizational factors that affect stakeholder collaboration and how trust is developed in the face of epistemic, institutional, and cultural challenges.

Scientific Expertise and Occupational Health: How to make things work?

Author: Emmanuel Henry (Université Paris-Dauphine )  email

Short Abstract

How the rise of scientific expertise shapes the definition of issues and makes harder for activists and workers to be heard? This paper will try to understand at which conditions scientific expertise can help to take better into account workers’ interests.

Long Abstract

In the field of occupational health, issues are increasingly considered in technical and scientific terms. The use of scientific knowledge and expertise is consequently more and more important. This evolution implies multiple impacts on occupational health policies and on the stakeholders concerned. One of these consequences is that the scientific definition of occupational health issues tends to make more difficult the work of unions and activists and to favour industries' and firms' interests.

In this paper, I will analyze how the rise of scientific expertise shapes the definition of issues and makes harder for activists and workers to be heard. The use of occupational exposure limits to govern workers' exposure to toxins is a good example of this kind of evolution. At the same time, some initiatives linked with activism try to produce scientific expertise in an alternative way more in the favor of workers. This paper will analyze the differences between different kinds of expertise (used by institutions and promoted by activists) and will try to understand at which conditions scientific expertise can help to take better into account workers' interests. This paper will also seek to understand why hybridization between social movement and scientific expertise did not occur in the field of occupational health in France, contrary to other fields or other countries. Finally, this paper will also summarize some of the conclusions of a workshop organized on this subject in 2014-2015 with scientific experts, researchers in social science (sociology, political science and STS), unionists and activists.

Collaborative Science and Knowledge Justice in a French Industrial Region

Authors: Barbara Allen (Virginia Tech)  email
Alison Cohen (University of California, Berkeley)  email
Yolaine Ferrier (Centre Norbert Elias CNRS UMR 8562)  email
Johanna Lees (Centre Nobert Elias)  email

Short Abstract

Using a participatory environmental health study we are conducting in France, we demonstrate a new frame for regulatory science: "knowledge justice." We argue that collaborative science informed by STS is an important step in making socially just science for communities and policy-makers alike.

Long Abstract

Using a project we are conducting in a southern French industrial region, we argue that community-based, participatory health science informed by science and technology studies (STS) is key for developing research that will be relevant to community residents and leaders and demonstrate a new frame for regulatory science: "knowledge justice." The inspiration for this study arose from in-depth sociological and anthropological interviews about how local residents and stakeholders used data to inform advocacy and decision-making, and that research identified a gap in scientific evidence about the health burden associated with living near major sources of industrial pollution. Our community-based multidisciplinary approach included the residents at every step of the process, from helping identify topics in the survey, to helping analyze and make sense of the findings through epidemiologic and biostatistical analysis of quantitative data, and sociology-informed qualitative analyses. The last phase of the project will be brainstorming with the residents for next steps, tying back to the STS ideas that inspired the project originally. At the end of our project, in service of promoting social justice through science, the residents will own their own data, own the survey instrument that they helped construct, and they will understand what the data means from a perspective that they define. We show how successful outcomes--defined in multi-perspectival ways-- align with the "just" making of science or "knowledge justice."

Technofictions: Putting Smart City Planning to Work in Brazilian Informal Settlements

Author: Kristine Stiphany (The University of Texas at Austin)  email

Short Abstract

Drawing on a participatory action research case study in São Paulo, Brazil, this paper analyzes the building and testing of a 3D scenario planning assessment tool that affords inhabitants of informal settlements the means to evaluate public policy and its impacts on future development alternatives.

Long Abstract

Smart City planning is often implemented through data-driven approaches that discount contexts devoid of basic physical, institutional, and informational infrastructure. This limitation calls into question the extent to which greater urban intelligence enables a more equitable interface between people and their environments, and raises two questions for those seeking alternatives: (1) how can Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) be retooled to empower citizens in low-income communities with data development relevant to their future aspirations; and (2) in what ways can smarter approaches overcome obstacles to sociotechnical change in the Global South? I consider these questions through the case of a participatory action study in São Paulo, where transdisciplinary researchers are building a 3D scenario-planning tool that permits citizens in informal settlements to evaluate the impacts of historical development on future alternatives. From a combined Science and Technology Studies (STS) and critical planning perspective, I provide a background of ICT use in informal settlement redevelopment, and the contribution of participatory and remote geosensing methods to the study. I then analyze the possibilities and limitations of citizen-derived technofictions as a planning support system, and the role of digital models in informing the political, cultural, and material contexts of which they are a part. Finally, I suggest the potential of anticipation, standards, and representation for operationalizing more robust alignments between conventional and emerging applications of ICTs in the Global South. By way of conclusion, I discuss the practical and theoretical implications of technofictions for infrastructural services, urban development, and smart city thinking.

Challenging Air Pollution: Exploring Community Pollution Surveillance in Taiwan

Authors: Wen-Ling Tu (National Chengchi University)  email
Chia-liang Shih  email

Short Abstract

This paper explores how lay people have participated in knowledge production of air monitoring, and how STSers have intervened to introduce the citizen science methods to create a more just and democratic form of air governance.

Long Abstract

The air pollution issues have become one of the top concerns in Taiwan. Although people may feel the deterioration of the environmental quality, the pollution sources often cannot be identified due to the complexity of the air pollution problems and the scientific monitoring capabilities. The government or the suspected polluters use the scientific uncertainty claim as well as needing more evaluation, investigation, studies, etc., to deflect the people's pollution related inquiries. Unsatisfied with the government's passive responses, the citizen groups in Taiwan have asked the government to reveal the real-time air monitoring data and promote the air quality flag program in elementary schools. Some local communities have formed self-help organizations and partnered with the experts to develop low cost air monitoring devices. This paper explores how lay people, including social movement groups, have participated in knowledge production by integrating their observation and experiences into the scientific practices of air monitoring. The discussions particularly address the emerging community pollution surveillance to showcase how the local people have produced, interpreted, and applied science to respond to the challenges of community risks. In this paper, the researcher further examines how STSers have intervened to introduce the citizen science methods and facilitated the dialogues among citizen groups, local residents, public officials, and experts in order to create a more just and democratic form of air governance. In conclusion, we discuss the potentials and limitations of the community science practices in Taiwan and the direction of institutional design that enables technoscience democracy and justice.

Application Brasil 4D tested by the social and cognitive justice

Author: Sayonara Leal (University of Brasilia)  email

Short Abstract

This research discuss about how cognitive and social justice participate in the design and uses of appliances of social benefits, Brasil 4D, whose tests made by its users reframe its conception and function, in a pragmatic and sociotechnological perspective.

Long Abstract

The Brazilian interactive digital TV system has among its main bases the promotion of the digital inclusion in the country towards an important national scenery of digital rupture. The interaction given by the Brazilian middleware Ginga has allowed initiatives of social justice when from this technology applications of social benefits are built for open TV, offering public services to the citizens who integrate the group called "social disadvantaged". The focus on interactive applications for the digital TV based on social rights makes these mechanisms one technical object relevant to question the relation among "critical technological citizenship", cognitive and social justice in societies which aim to put together technological development and action against the social disparity. In this way we are based on data obtained in research about uses of appliances of social benefits by populations attended by the Brazilian social politics of income distribution Bolsa Familia, in the Brazilian Federal District, in the frame Brasil 4D. It's a kind of "base application" which works in the social and technical environment of Ginga and produces information services about welfare system to families attended by the politics Bolsa Familia. From the data obtained on qualitative research techniques with users of the Brasil 4D, we discuss, based on the approaches of the innovation sociology and in the pragmatic sociology, how the relation among interaction, critical technological citizenship and social justice from the access to the appliance and consider the relations and tensions between its invention and uses, which reframe its conception and function.

The Engineering Exchange: widening access to engineering expertise in London

Authors: Sarah Bell (University College London)  email
Charlotte Barrow (UCL)  email
Vera Bukachi  email

Short Abstract

The Engineering Exchange (EngEx) supports two way engagement between engineering researchers and local communities in London, UK. This paper reflects upon the first two years of the EngEx and the impact on community group partners, participating engineers and urban planning and decision making.

Long Abstract

The Engineering Exchange (EngEx) at University College London was established in 2014 to support engagement between engineering researchers and local communities. Building on the 'science shop' tradition within STS, the purpose of the EngEx is to provide community groups with access to engineering expertise and to ensure community needs are reflected in research projects and priorities. The EngEx runs training courses for engineers and researchers, facilitates events to generate collaborative research projects, and responds to ad hoc enquiries from community groups. Projects have addressed a wide range of issues including the demolition and refurbishment of social housing, reintroducing freight transport on London's canals, a community design charette, community infrastructure planning, improving delivery logistics to reduce air pollution, and preservation of an historic steam ship. This paper will present the outcomes of the evaluation of training and research programmes for engineers and community partners, and on the wider university.

Promoting Social Justice by Optimising Public Medical Resources

Authors: Yunyan Shi (National Academy of Innovation Strategy)  email
Zheng Li (National Academy of Innovation Strategy, China Association for Science and Technology)  email
Hui Luo (National Academy of Innovation Strategy, China Association for Science and Technology)  email

Short Abstract

Optimising management and allocation of public medical resources is a crucial way to promoting social justice. This paper shows a primary study on the performance of Medical Alliance in China, which emphasises the incorporation of healthcare system with STS knowledge and innovations.

Long Abstract

This track could be a sober moment to remind STS community that promoting social justice should be a duty to every STSer. What is social justice? Avoiding complex theories and arguments, one basic idea about social justice is to ensure every citizen's ownership of a healthy life; if rationality, as Hegel said, is justice, then social justice is to optimise use and allocation of social resources, especially public medical resources. This paper shows a primary study on the performance of an ongoing practice in China called Medical Alliance, which emphasises the combination of healthcare system and STS innovations such as remote diagnostics, digital individual health record, O2O healthcare services, cloud computing technologies and scientific management. The study consisted of both qualitative and quantitative analysis based on the surveys in the 10 provinces, which were implemented by China Association for Science and Technology in 2015. The main outputs include discussions on six aspects: (i) optimising equipment sharing mechanism and gaming environment between urban hospitals and rural clinics, (ii) rising budgets for greying population cares, patient-doctor relationship management, and nursing services, rather than high-tech treatment like precision medicine, (iii) leveraging platform of medicine bid to reduce poverty people's burdens of buying medicines (iv) researching on traditional Chinese medicine, (v) adjusting period design of new medicine approval and patenting, and (vi) evaluating impacts of the government top-down policy initiative, Internet+, on the development of primary care. This study could be a reference for STS scholars who are seeking various ways to social justice.

This track is closed to new paper proposals.