SKAT invites nominations (including self-nominations) for the Robert K. Merton Book Award. The award is given annually in recognition of an outstanding book on science, knowledge, and technology published during the preceding three years (2009, 2008, or 2007). Single or multi-authored works are eligible, but not edited volumes. The winner, who should be a member of SKAT during the year in which the award is given, will be honored at the ASA Annual Meetings (August 14-17, 2010) in Atlanta. The deadline for nominations is February 15, 2010, and for receipt of books from publishers by March 15, 2010. The committee members and their mailing addresses are listed below. Nominations or requests for more information should be sent to the committee chair, Jackie Orr, at 'email@example.com'.
Copies of nominated books should be received by the following four committee members before March 15, 2010:
Jackie Orr (Chair)
Department of Sociology
302 Maxwell Hall
Syracuse, New York 13244-1090
Elizabeth Popp Berman
Department of Sociology
1400 Washington Ave. AS 351
Albany, NY 12222
Innovative Construction Research Centre (ICRC)
School of Construction Management, U of Reading
Whiteknights P.O. Box 225
Daniel Kleinman (ex officio)
Department of Community and Environmental Sociology
University of Wisconsin---Madison
Madison, WI 53706
The Section of Science, Knowledge and Technology invites submission for the 2010 Hacker-Mullins Graduate Student Paper Award. The award comes with a $250 prize. The deadline for submissions is March 15, 2010. To be eligible, an authors must be a student at the time of submission. Published and unpublished papers are accepted. Send one paper copy to each for four committee members:
Sydney Halpern (committee chair)
Department of Sociology (m/c 312)
University of Illinois
1007 W. Harrison St.
Chicago IL 60607
Daniel Kleinman (ex-officio member)
Department of Community and Environmental Sociology
348 Agriculture Hall
1450 Linden Dr.
University of Toronto
Faculty of Medicine
Wilson Center for Research in Education
Toronto General Hospital
200 Elizabeth St.
Canada M5G 2C4
Abby Kinchy STS Department Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
110 Eighth St.
5403 Sage Building
Troy, NY 12180.
This year's Robert K. Merton Book Award has been awarded to David J. Hess for his book "Alternative Pathways in Science and Industry: Activism, Innovation, and the Environment in an Era of Globalization" (MIT Press, 2007). David's book captured the interest of the committee members for many reasons. Building on Bourdieu's concepts of field and forms of capital and on Latour and Woolgar's analysis of the credibility cycle, David skillfully deconstructs the myth of the autonomy of the scientific world. He also moves beyond constructivism, with its focus on microsocial processes, to the broader question of the agendas of research fields and the role of funders in the selection of topics that are targeted for development or left unexamined. The theory of scientific practices he proposes rightly puts the emphasis on the interaction between the field of science (characterized by its own internal logic and reward system) and the external economic and political forces that impact academic research through funding. David beautifully delineates some of the key aspects of the connection between the two: external funding shapes scientific activities because scientists' productivity depends on it, and this productivity, within the scientific field, is the yardstick with which they are assessed. Academic scientists are thus constrained to navigate along a sinuous corridor delimited by the research priorities set by the funders and the academic reward system.
"Alternative Pathways" also makes a significant contribution to the literature on the relationship between academia and society by introducing the concept of "epistemic modernization". Instead of solely focusing on transformations induced by industrial and political elites, this concept seeks to also capture the transformations initiated "from below", e.g., social and reform movements, activist networks. This concept allows for a more nuanced understanding of the multifarious circumstances currently affecting scientists' research practices. Overall, David's book constitutes an insightful, clearly written, and cogent analysis of the current condition under which academic scientists produce knowledge.
Maren Klawiter's book "The Biopolitics of Breast Cancer: Changing Cultures of Disease and Activism" (University of Minnesota Press, 2008) received the Honorable Mention for this year's Robert K. Merton Book Award. Maren's book examines the changing forms of biomedical and biopolitical discourses and practices that constitute the diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer from a broad socio-historical perspective. Her book combines insightful theoretical work, synthesizing social movement, poststructuralist, and feminist modes of theorizing, with detailed empirical research drawn from her extensive fieldwork in the Northern California (San Francisco) Bay Area. Maren develops several innovative concepts that will be useful for researchers across disciplines. She expands social movement research by examining what she calls "social movements without the sovereign," an approach inspired by Foucauldian analyses of biopower that pays close attention to the "structuring practices" of health activism, such as the different embodied practices of breast cancer activists. She elaborates this approach by revealing "disease regimes," or the discourses and practices that configure embodied identities, that serve as both foundations and sites of conflict for the public health "administration" and clinical biomedical "management" of breast cancer. She details how interactions among activist identities and disease regimes emerged over time in different "fields of contention" and "cultures of action."
The award committee was particularly impressed by the innovative framework that Maren produced, as well as the book's potential to chart new trajectories in a variety of fields. "The Biopolitics of Breast Cancer" not only makes a significant sociological contribution to scholarly debates in Science and Technology Studies, medical sociology and social movement research, but also provides important perspectives for anyone concerned about public struggles over health, illness, and justice.
The committee members were extremely impressed with the quality of the submissions and believe it bodes well for the continued strength of the field. We all agreed, however, that David Schliefer's paper deserved the prize this year. The paper's title is "The Dovetailing of Activism, Industry, and the Technological Backburner: How Trans Fats Became Healthy." This fascinating study shows how trans fats were constructed as a healthy alternative to saturated fats in the 1980s. †The paper provides a clear engagement with STS literature, contributing to actor-network theory and the social construction of technology. It is conceptually sophisticated and provides a convincing case study of how technologies "on the back burner" in companies can be revived. Most significantly, the paper shows that corporate interests are not fixed, but emerge in particular ways, in this case through interaction with health activists who campaigned against food manufacturers' use of saturated fats. The committee was impressed by the wide range of sources David used and how he seamlessly wove them together to make a compelling theoretical argument. Congratulations, David!