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Society for Social Studies of Science

4S 2017 Boston

Heatmap of Boston’s most photographed locations, using geo-tagging and user data

Annual Meeting of the Society for Social Studies of Science (4S)

Boston, Massachusetts 

Wed. August 30 (11am!) – Sat. September 2, 2017 (5:30pm)

Sheraton Boston Hotel, 39 Dalton Street


Registration is now open. Please read the details  first.

How to register

This year, meeting registration will take place on the 4S Members site. If you submitted a paper or are listed as a presenter or author on an accepted paper, you already have an account with the site. Please avoid creating a duplicate account--it will only cause confusion. If you don't know your login credentials, use the 'forgot password' link. When you update your password, your user name will be displayed on the confirmation screen. 

If you do not see the member rates offered after you log in, you may elect to join 4S before registering. Use the 'Membership' link in the menu. (Note:  If you see the message "Your membership is current and does not expire" when you log in, it means you do not have an active 4S membership. The message is referring to your Guest Membership in the web site. Apologies for the confusing language.)

This year you can pay online immediately upon registering, or you may select the "bill me" option and print an invoice to be processed by your institution. Subsequent payment may be made online or by bank transfer. Find bank information here. 4S strongly prefers online payment upon registration, for obvious reasons: pursuing people for payment is a nuisance for all involved.

For technical support, contact the administrator.


Early rates apply through June 23. ‘Concession’ rates apply to students and all unwaged or low waged.  Concession rates are meant for people such as students, retirees, under/unemployed, those living in economically disadvantaged countries, and others for whom paying the full rate would be a hardship.  Determination of eligibility is left to the registrant.

    Concession Professional
Member Early  $190 $290
  Regular  $290 $390
Non-member Early  $290 $390
  Regular  $390 $490

Cancellation Policy

After July 14, cancellations will be accepted with a refund of 50%. Any cancellations after August 4 will not be refunded.



The meeting will be held at the Sheraton Boston Hotel. To reserve a room at the conference rate, call the Starwood Reservations Center at Reservation Center at 1.888.627.7054 provide the group code ‘4H29AA’ or simply book online.

Travel Grants

Applications for grants to support student travel to the meeting are now being accepted.

4S Monitoring Travel Ban and Boycotts

4S has published a statement on the rapidly evolving U.S. political situation, reaffirming the internationalism of 4S, in fact and spirit, as well as our deep appreciation for the diverse experiences and perspectives that 4S members bring to our collective work. We encourage anyone planning to submit an abstract to do so, even if they may be prevented from attending the conference owing either to border restrictions or to matters of conscience.  If the Executive Order remains in place into the summer, those unable or unwilling to attend will be included in the program, and their decisions regarding participation noted as requested.

Meeting Highlights

Presidential Plenary – Interrogating ‘the Threat’

Wednesday August 30th

A critical conversation regarding what we should be concerned about, as both STS scholars and members of wider publics 

Making and Doing Presentations

Sharing scholarly practices of participation, engagement, and intervention in their fields of study

Affiliated Events

Enacting Environmental Data Justice:  A 4S Pre-Meeting Event

Tuesday, August 29, 4-8pm

As the new presidential administration threatens to curtail environmental agencies and their infrastructures of data collection, a powerful grassroots movement has formed to archive and protect federally-maintained datasets and associated curated information. You are invited to attend an experimental workshop titled Enacting Environmental Data Justice.

Film Screening: "Healing Fukushima"

Thursday, August 31, 6-8pm

Sulfikar Amir will be screening his documentary film called “Healing Fukushima” at MIT following the Making and Doing event. Mike Fischer is hosting the screening and chairing the after-screening discussion. Three speakers will discuss the film, including Scott Knowles (Drexel), Masashi Shirabe (Tokyo Tech), and Kim Fortun (Rensselaer, to be confirmed). . Check out the film trailer and full synopsis

Important Dates

Nov 15. Call for open panels proposals 
Jan 1. Submission closes for open panels
Jan 15.  Call for closed/invited sessions and individual paper submissions and Making and Doing session proposals
March 1. Deadline for submission of closed sessions and individual papers
April 15. Acceptance notification 
May 15.  Preliminary program
June 23. End of early registration
July 21. Registration deadline to be included in the program

Pluralizing Language in the Age of Trump and Brexit: An Invitation for the Upcoming 4S Conference (and beyond)


Chinese (simplified)

Chinese (traditional)






At the Boston 2017 conference, 4S invites presenters to deliver papers in languages other than English. 4S recognizes that xenophobia and nationalism are on the rise in many places. While English has become a scientific lingua franca that has been favoured in communications and networking across the globe, it is the official language of just a handful of countries, most prominently the United States of America and the United Kingdom. The current policies of these two countries send a message of insulation and parochialism to the world, explicitly threatening the richness and importance of human difference. In response, the aim of this initiative is to decenter English as the de facto language of this and other international conferences. Linguistic pluralism should be welcomed and encouraged to make clear that the world is irreducibly plural. 

While this invitation is particularly extended to those whose first language is not English, even monolingual English speaker may have parts or all of their presentation written or audio-recorded in another language by another speaker. There are many ways to represent linguistic pluralism and we encourage creativity in this regard. To secure full understanding of each presentation, presenters should provide English translation, which can be distributed in various ways: a full paper, a summary, slides that accompany the talk, or other inventive forms. 

This will of course be a collective experiment the first time through, in which we’ll trial different ways in which presenters can express their ideas in the language with which they feel most comfortable, while also making those ideas accessible to English speaking participants. We would like to extend a further request to anyone willing to translate this invitation into (an)other language(s) and also perhaps to aid in the creation of English summaries for circulation at the conference.  If you are able and willing to contribute to this effort, please contact Maurizio at

Thanks to translators, ElHassan ElSabry, Jiuheng He, HungYin Tsai, Aimé Dafon Sègla, Susanne Oechsner, Ivan da Costa Marques, Daria Dementeva, Olga Doletskaya, Igor Lyustritskiy, Claudia Castañeda

Program Committee

Heather Paxson (MIT, Chair)
Daniel Breslau (Virginia Tech)
Claudia Castañeda (Emerson College)
Tarleton Gillespie (Cornell, Microsoft Research New England)
Mary Gray (Indiana University, Microsoft Research New England)
Clare Kim (MIT)
Nick Seaver (Tufts)
Banu Subramaniam (University of Massachusetts-Amherst)
TL Taylor (MIT)
Lucy Suchman (Lancaster University)

Original Call for Papers, Panels, and Making and Doing Presentations

Deadline for Submission: March 1, 2017

While submissions are closed, you can log in and view yours or edit contact information here.

Conference theme:    STS (In)Sensibilities

If sensibility is the ability to grasp and to respond, how might we articulate the (in)sensibilities of contemporary technoscience?  How, similarly, can we reflect on the extent and limits of our own sensibilities as STS scholars, teachers, and activists?  The conference theme invites an open reading and exploration of how the world is made differently sense-able through multiple discourses and practices of knowledge-making, as well as that which evades the sensoria of technoscience and STS.  Our aim is that the sense of ‘sense’ be read broadly, from mediating technologies of perception and apprehension to the discursive and material practices that render worlds familiar and strange, real and imagined, actual and possible, politically (in)sensitive and ethically sensible.     

We welcome open panel and closed session proposals, individual paper submissions, and proposals for events that are innovative in their delivery, organization, range of topics, and type of public.  Due to the growing number of submissions and our desire to be as inclusive as possible, each participant will be strictly limited to only one paper or media presentation and one other activity (such as session chair or discussant), for a maximum of two appearances. Participation in the Making and Doing event (see below) is not counted toward this limit.


Paper submissions should be in the form of abstracts of up to 250 words. They should include the paper’s main arguments, methods, and contributions to STS. You may choose to submit your paper abstract to an open panel, or you can leave panel selection to the program organizers.  In addition to designating one or more topical Research Areas using the drop-down menu, please list up to five keywords to help the program organizers evaluate and assign your paper.


Each session proposal should contain a summary and rationale of up to 250 words, including a brief discussion of its contribution to STS.  A session proposal must contain a minimum of three paper abstracts conforming to the criteria above and may contain up to five, plus a discussant. If the proposal contains fewer than five papers, the Program Committee may assign additional papers to your session to optimize scheduling and participation.

Open Panels

Prior to opening submissions, the program Committee accepted 129 proposals to host Open Panels. Their descriptions are available for perusal across four pages via the menu at left. When submitting a paper, you have the option of nominating your paper for up to three Open Panels. 

The purpose of calling for open panel proposals is to stimulate the formation of new networks around topics of interest to the 4S community. Like any meeting panel, an open panel is a paper session with a theme and a responsible chairperson(s). In contrast to traditional ("closed") session proposals, open panel topics are included in the call for papers, and authors nominate their paper for one or more panels. 

Making and Doing Session

In addition to paper and session submissions, 4S invites proposed presentations for the ‘STS Making and Doing’ event.  Participation in the Making and Doing event does not count toward limits on conference participation described elsewhere. Making and Doing proposals are submitted through a dedicated form found at the same location as paper and session submissions. 

Contact Information

For information on conference and program practices, acceptance status, and scheduling, contact the Program Chair, Heather Paxson.

For technical assistance with the submission or registration process, contact the 4S Administrator.