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Society for Social Studies of Science

What is 4S?

The Society for Social Studies of Science (4S) is a scholarly society founded in 1975 with an international membership of over 1200. Its main purpose is to bring together those interested in understanding science, technology, and medicine, including the way they develop and interact with their social contexts.

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For renewals, the member directory, meeting registration, visit the Member Portal.

4S News

President’s Message, May 2016


Bernal Prize to Michael Lynch. In Memoriam: David Hakken


4S President’s message – April 2016


6S Workshop funded. 4S/ASIST collaboration. Campaign to ban lethal autonomous weapons.


2017 Edge Prize Nominations Requested


Awarded annually for the best article in the area of science and technology studies by the 4S.  Deadline for nominations is May 1, 2016.



Backchannels provides an outlet for alternative-format scholarly communications, publishing shorter, timelier, media-rich communiques of interest to the global STS community.

STGlobal Consortium: By students, for students

Report-backs / Mel Jeske and Derek Parrott

The STGlobal Consortium is an STS conference by students, for students. Melanie Jeske and Derek Parrot report back on STGlobal 2016.

With Equitable Partnerships, African Scientists Will Struggle Far Less

Reflections / Janny Chang, PhD

title Being part of today's scientific world poses great challenges for all scientists given its complex system of merit allocation and the high competition for jobs and research funding. Janny Chang from Africa's "Next Einstein Forum" discusses the implications for African scientists and their struggles with the current system inequalities in the light of Africa's colonial legacy.

‘A Conference with Extraordinary Films’ – Ethnografilm returns to Paris

Report-backs / Lizzie Sayer

title The third edition of the Ethnografilm Festival took place from the 29th of March to the 2nd April 2016 at Ciné 13, Paris. With around 100 films and footage shot in a several dozen countries worldwide, the Ethnografilm Festival is a unique free festival for directors of documentary films that build understanding of social realities.

Enduring Effects of the Bhopal Disaster

Reflections / Rahul Mukherjee

title The Bhopal disaster remains present in the lives of Indian "chemical publics."

CRISPR dispute raises bigger patent issues that we’re not talking about

Reflections / Shobita Parthasarathy

title It’s time to consider a more nuanced approach to patents in biotech, one that disentangles innovation and the public interest from profits.

Moments, Movements, Scores: Reflections on Workshopping Ethnography

Report-backs / Yelena Gluzman

title At a recent ethnography workshop held by the Collaboratory for Ethnographic Design at UC Davis, organizers moved away from the materials of design and drew instead from the methods of theater.

A Missing Link in Making Meaning from Air Monitoring?

Projects / Gwen Ottinger, Drexel University

title Gwen Ottinger discusses how data about the air quality of neighborhoods closest to oil refineries can be better harnessed by community activists.

The Box:  Commonplace artifacts in the Production of Scientific Knowledge

Projects / Maria Rentetzi

title Boxes usually bring to mind storage and transportation; the orderly arrangement of valuable museums and archives holdings. Boxes contain our lives’ innocent and guilty little pleasures: brownies, cookies, tobacco, cigarettes, forbidden letters.

Teaching the Fukushima Disaster with “A Journey To Namie”

Projects / Vivek Kant, Nanyang Technological University

title creates and compiles materials for teaching the Fukushima disaster, like the short documentary, "A Journey to Namie."

Bicycling Renaissance: a Bike Boom of Old (With Lessons for the New)

Reviews / Jesse Gant

title Imagine being a cycling enthusiast in the 1890s before the automobile had become embedded in the American dream and defined the urban landscape. In this re-blog we cast a spotlight on the brief moment in American history when the notion of a cycling city was a genuine pipeline dream for urban designers.

Things Worth Categorizing

Reviews / Yelena Gluzman

title The cards were there to be peered at and handled, and mounted lights and magnifying glasses allowed for an intimate examination of the texture and detail in each. The mise-en-scène of the cards figured them as specimens, and us as naturalists. Yet the task of the naturalist—to organize specimens into coherent relations—was also the work being done by the cards themselves.

III Encuentro de la Red CTS-Chile

Report-backs / Gloria Baigorrotegui, Juan Felipe Espinoza & Martín Pérez Comisso

title During the 13 to 15 of January it was held, at the School of Business at the Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Valparaiso, the Third Meeting of the STS-Chilean Network. Given the public uprisings that have taken place since 2011 in Chile, and given the new forms of collective action seen in our country, we agreed to convene the meeting under the theme "Citizenship, Collective, Knowledge and Power: Achievements and Challenges for Science, Technology and Society Studies.

Talking Transdisciplinarity with Ulrike Felt: New Research in Science, Technology & Human Values

Reflections / Aleka Gurel

title Professor Ulrike Felt, from the University of Vienna, talks to Backchannels about her recent ST&HV article, "Transdisciplinary Sustainability Research in Practice."

A forum on the Zika virus

Report-backs / Sudeepa Abeysinghe, Luciana Brondi, Ian Harper, Hannah Lesshafft, Lucy Lowe, Alex Nading and Ting Ting Shum

title Five speakers examined Zika and its implications from differing perspectives. Of particular concern for the roundtable was to address how social scientists may approach the issues at stake.

Sex, Gender, and the New NIH Policy

Reflections / Heather Shattuck-Heidorn

title Highlighting the need for research on gender alongside sex is a critical contribution of feminist science studies scholars.

STS Underground: Images from an Emerging Subfield

Report-backs / Abby Kinchy and Roopali Phadke

title What can STS contribute to the burgeoning new field of “subsoil” social theory?

Some Thoughts on the “Egyptian Knowledge Bank”

Reflections / ElHassan ElSabry

title In November 2015, the Egyptian government announced an initiative to provide nationwide access to a multitude of knowledge resources (k-12 curricula, scholarly journals, eBooks, educational videos ... etc.) claiming that it is "“the biggest digital library in the world". ElHassan ElSabry, an Egyptian researcher in the field of scholarly communication and Open Access, provides some thoughts on the issue and the project's ability to fulfill its promise.

Top of the Heap: Elly Teman

Reviews / Hannah Gibson

title I like to show Zippi Brand Frank’s 2009 HBO documentary Google Baby about gestational surrogacy in India as it clearly maps out the movement across national borders, social classes, and bodies involved in transnational surrogacy arrangements.

Apuntes desde EXPLORA-CONICYT y la visibilidad de la ciencia y tecnología escolar en Latinoamérica

Report-backs / Gloria Baigorrotegui

title Children and young people from schools throughout Chile and school representatives from three Latin American countries: Mexico, Peru and Argentina met from 24 to 26 November 2015 in the city of Valparaiso to present their scientific projects in the final of the XVI School National Congress School of Science and Technology. 53 projects were selected in three categories: i) Natural Sciences, ii) Research in engineering and technology and iii) Social Sciences. Gloria Baigorrotegui tells us her experience as an external evaluator of this initiative.

Building DIY citizen science technology to see invisible marine plastics

Projects / Max Liboiron

title Ninety-three percent of all marine plastics are smaller than a grain of rice (Eriksen et al 2014). This summer I made a research voyage through one of the world’s five gyres, huge slow-moving currents in the middle each of the world’s five oceans that tend to accumulate floating debris, including plastics.

A construção de uma rede de engenharia popular

Report-backs / Rede de Engenharia Popular Oswaldo Sevá

title The engineering subject is rarely connected with issues such as inequality, poverty, alternative development projects and society. The connections, however, are many and very important. Brazil is an unequal country, where much of the population has no access to basic rights such as housing, sanitation, etc. But these are not the only difficulties these people face. Lack of access to public universities, to the engineering courses and to developed technologies are added to the immense challenges that poor people, on the outskirts of the cities or the countryside, have faced daily.

4S Backchannels Seeks Graduate Student Assistant Editors

Projects / Jen Henderson

We are looking for graduate students to join our efforts as interns for Backchannels, our blog. While these positions are unpaid, the 4S Council has agreed to waive the annual conference registration fee for those who volunteer.

Revisando la universidad

Report-backs / Fabian Prieto

title Over two years, the Learning to see systems group has worked in an interdisciplinary approach around the question of how to make visible the values and epistemologies embedded in scientific and technological complex systems. With this ambitious goal, teachers and students have followed a path that connected communication studies, art history, social studies of science and technology and artistic practice. Learning to see system emerged in 2013 from a proposal endorsed by the Graduate College of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, within the program INTERSECT. Under the leadership of Kevin Hamilton, Professor of Art and Design, the group made progress in its discussions from a curriculum that included four doctoral level courses and participation in workshops designed by the group itself. This is the case of the workshop "Revising the University", which had place on May 27, 2015.

#QueerSTS4S: A Meetup at 4S for Scholars at the Intersection of LGBTQ Studies and STS

Projects / Mitali Thakor and Stephen Molldrem

title We are thrilled to announce #QueerSTS4S: A Meetup at 4S for Scholars at the Intersection of LGBTQ Studies and STS, which will take place at 4S this November; specifically, on Thursday, November 12th from 8-10pm at the Sheraton Director’s Room E. There will be refreshments and a cash bar.