Olga Bychkova (European University at Saint Petersburg)
Andrei Kuznetsov (European University at Saint Petersburg)


From 15:00
to 16:30
From 15:00
to 16:30

Course description
This class aims to provide students with the understanding of methods and methodologies in Science and Technology Studies (STS). Although STS itself is constantly engaging in a permanent critique of the rationality and universality of scientific methods, this field accumulates a number of insights and practices to deal with the complexity and heterogeneity of work of scientists and engineers. In this class, students will learn how it is possible for STS to deploy the conventional methods, on the one hand, and be very aware of their effects and constraints, on the other hand. During the class, we will deal with the most popular STS methods and discuss the main points of the STS critique of the conventional methods in social sciences. We will describe how STS enacts traditional methods in social sciences in its own exploration practice. We will also focus on methods that are created inside STS (actor-network theory, mapping controversies, following the objects, method assemblage).

Teaching format
The course consists of a mixture of lectures and seminars. During the first part of each class, an outline of a particular method or methodology will be provided. During the second part of each class, students will work in small groups with a particular method discussed during the first part and present their own vision of the method. One student from the group will be responsible to make the presentation of the group's activity as well as summarise the key issues raised in the discussion.

Attendance and active participation in group activity: Share responsibility for group activity in each week’s class starting Week 2.
Discussion leader: In addition to active participation in the group's activity, for each seminar starting Week 2, one or two students from each group (depending on the size of the class) will lead discussion on a particular method. The goal of a discussion leader is to present the outcomes of the group’s activities, summarise questions and make the group’s conclusions.
Mid-term paper: Max. length: 2000 words. Students are divided into groups of two or four at the beginning of the term. Each group selects one case relevant for the class and the city of Venice and employs one research method (observation, interview, analysis of documents, etc.) to explore the case selected (e.g. the bridge, the street, the market, pipes, city’s transportation, etc.). We’ll explore the list of possible cases during Week 2. Each group prepares a midterm paper with a description of the selected case. Additional requirements for the papers will be provided during Week 1.
Ideas for possible research cases could be found here:
Patterned Ground, edited by S. Pile, N. Thrift, et al. Reaktion Press (2004).
Making things public. Atmospheres of democracy, edited by B. Latour and P. Weibel. MIT Press, Cambridge, MA (2005).
The materiality of Res Public: How to do things with publics, edited by D. Colas and O. Kharkhordin. Cambridge Scholars Publishing (2009).
Final paper and its presentation: Min. length: 4000 words. The same group as for the mid-term paper uses the same case but employs another research method to explore it. E.g., for the first paper the group may select observations, interview, document analysis while for the second paper they should add a method from the second part of the course, e.g. controversy mapping, co-word analysis, video analysis, etc. The final paper should cover the selected case from a different angle to provide a stereoscopic view on it. Additional requirements for the final paper will be provided on Week 1. Group will present the draft of the paper on Week 12.

Attendance and participation - 10%
Discussion - 20%
Midterm paper - 30%
Final paper and its presentation - 40%
Regular deadlines for VIU Fall 2022-2023 Semester apply.


Class structure
! NB:
1. Class will be taught in hybrid format:
Week 1-6 – personally at VIU. After midterm break, online format.
2. Two professors:
Prof. Bychkova will teach Week 1 and 2 personally at VIU
Prof. Kuznetsov will teach Week 3-6 personally at VIU and week 7-12 – online.

Week 1. Genealogy of STS. Introduction to methods and methodologies of STS.
Week 2. Case study as the core method of the field.
Week 3. Interview as a method in STS.
Week 4. Ethnography as the most iconic method in STS.
Week 5. The analysis of documents in STS.
Week 6. Actor-network theory.
Midterm paper due
Mid-term break
Week 7. Sociotechnical graphs as a method of material semiotics.
Week 8. Co-word analysis and its contemporary applications.
Week 9. Video analysis in STS.
Week 10. Controversies mapping as a digital method.
Week 11. Participatory methodologies in STS.
Week 12. Paper’s presentations.
Exam week. Final paper due.


Class schedule

Week 1. Intro to the class and class assignments. Genealogy of STS. Introduction to methods and methodologies of STS.
The syllabus will be distributed, and the first assignments will be due the next week.
Reading: No reading assignment.
Seminar activity: We will watch and discuss a documentary movie: Misleading Innocence - Tracing what a bridge can do (2014, 50 min).
Further reading [Optional]:
Edge, D. “Reinventing the wheel.” In: S. Jasanoff et al, ed., Handbook of Science and Technology Studies. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage (1995): 3-23.
Latour, B. “The politics of explanation: An alternative.” In: S. Woolgar, ed., Knowledge and reflexivity, New Frontiers in the Sociology of Knowledge. Sage, London (1988): 155-177.
Sismondo, S. An Introduction to Science and Technology Studies. Wiley-Blackwell (2009). Ch.1.
Sismondo, S. “Science and Technology Studies and an engaged program.” In: E.J. Hackett et al., eds., The Handbook of Science and Technology Studies. The MIT Press (2008): 13-31.

Week 2. Case study as the core method of the field.
Beaulieu, A., Scharnhorst, A., Wouters, P. “Not another case study: A middle-range interrogation of ethnographic case studies in the exploration of e-science.” Science, Technology and Human Values 32.6 (2007): 672–692.
Jensen, C. B. “Continuous variations: The conceptual and the empirical in STS.” Science, Technology and Human Values 39.2 (2014): 192–213.
Group activity: We work on selection of a research case.
Further reading [Optional]:
Felt, U., et al. (eds.) The Handbook of science and technology studies. MIT Press (2017). Ch.1 and 2.
Geels, F.W. “Feelings of discontent and the promise of middle range theory for STS: Examples from Technology Dynamics.” Science, Technology and Human Values 32.6 (2007): 627–52.
Jasanoff, S. 2010. “A Field of Its Own: The Emergence of Science and Technology Studies.” In: R. Frodeman, J. Thompson Klein, C. Mitcham, eds., The Oxford Handbook of Interdisciplinarity. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press (2010): 191-206.
Law, J. After method: Mess in social science research. Routledge (2004). Ch. 1, 2, conclusion.
Law J., Urry J. “Enacting the social.” Economy and society 33.3 (2004): 390-410.

Week 3. Interview as a method in STS.
Berg, B. L., Lune, H. “A dramaturgical look at interviewing.” In: Berg, B. L., Lune, H. Qualitative research methods for the social sciences. Boston, Pearson (2017): 65-94.
Group activity: We work with interviews as a research method.
Further reading [Optional]:
Brinkman S. “Unstructured and semi-structured interviewing.” In: P. Levy, ed, Oxford Handbook of Qualitative Research. Oxford University Press (2014): 277-299.
Fetz M., Collins H. “Cracking the crystal in STS: Marcelo Fetz talks with Harry Collins.” Engaging Science, Technology, and Society 4 (2018): 202-221.
Latour B. Aramis, or, The love of technology. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press (1996). Ch. 1 and 2.

Week 4. Ethnography as the most iconic method in STS.
Hess, D. “Ethnography and the development of science and technology studies.” In: P. Atkinson et al, eds. Handbook of ethnography (2001): 234-245.
Group activity: We work on ethnography as a research method.
Further reading [Optional]:
Latour, B., Woolgar, S. Laboratory life: The construction of scientific facts. Princeton University Press, 2013. Ch. 1 and 2.
LeCompte, M. D., Schensul, J. J. Designing and conducting ethnographic research (2nd edition). AltaMira Press (2010).

Week 5. The analysis of documents in STS.
Shankar K., Hakken D., Østerlund C. “Rethinking documents.” In: Felt, U., Fouché, R., Miller, C. A., Smith-Doerr, L. Handbook of Science and Technology Studies. 4th Edition (2017): 59-87.
Group activity: We will work with analysis of documents.
Further reading [Optional]:
Jasanoff, S., Kim, S.-H. “Containing the atom: Sociotechnical imaginaries and nuclear power in the United States and South Korea.” Minerva 47.2 (2009): 119-146.
Riles A. Documents: Artifacts of modern knowledge. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press (2006).
Walker, G., Cass, N. “Carbon reduction, the public and renewable energy: engaging with socio‐technical configurations.” Area 39.4 (2007): 458-469.

Week 6. Actor-network theory as a method in STS.
Latour, B. “Mixing humans with non-humans: Sociology of a door-closer.” In: L. Star, ed, Social Problems (special issue on sociology of science) Vol. 35 (1988): 298-310 (with Jim Johnson).
Group activity: We start to work on ANT as a research method.
Further reading [Optional]:
Callon, M. “The sociology of an actor-network: The case of the electric vehicle.” In: Mapping the dynamics of science and technology. Palgrave Macmillan, London (1986): 19-34.
Latour, B. “On actor-network theory: A few clarifications.” Soziale Welt 47. Jahrg. H. 4 (1996): 369-381.
Latour, Bruno. Science in action: How to follow scientists and engineers through society. Harvard University Press (1987). Ch. 1 and 2.

Midterm week.
Assignment: Midterm paper due.

Midterm break.

Week 7. Sociotechnical graphs as a method of material semiotics.
Latour, B., Mauguin, P., Teil, G. “A note on socio-technical graphs." Social Studies of Science 22.1 (1992): 33-57.
Group activity: We practice a method of sociotechnical graphs.
Further reading [Optional]:
Akrich, M, Latour, B. “A summary of a convenient vocabulary for the semiotics of human and nonhuman assemblies.” In: Bijker, W., Law, J. Shaping Technology/ Building Society Studies in Sociotechnical Change. The MIT Press (1992): 259-264.
Latour, B. “Technology is society made durable.”

Week 8. Co-word analysis and its contemporary applications.
Callon, M., et al. “From translations to problematic networks: An introduction to co-word analysis.” Social Science Information 22.2 (1983): 191-235.
Group activity: We practice a method of co-word analysis for bibliographic sources.
Further reading [Optional]:
Callon, M., Courtial, J-P., Laville, F. “Co-word analysis as a tool for describing the network of interactions between basic and technological research: The case of polymer chemistry.” Scientometrics 22.1 (1991): 155-205.
Hu, Ch.-P., et al. “A co-word analysis of library and information science in China.” Scientometrics 97.2 (2013): 369-382.

Week 9. Video analysis in STS.
Sormani, P., Alač, M, Bovet, A., Greiffenhagen, C. “Ethnomethodology, video analysis, and STS”. In: Felt, U, et al., eds. The handbook of science and technology studies. MIT Press (2016): 113-139.
Group activity: We practice video analysis.
Further reading [Optional]:
Jewitt C. An introduction to using video for research.
Suchman, L. “Constituting shared workspaces.” In: Engestrom, Y., Middleton D. Cognition and communication at work. Cambridge University Press (1996): 35-60.

Week 10. Mapping controversies and issue mapping as methods in STS.
Venturini, T. “Diving in magma: how to explore controversies with actor-network theory.” Public Understanding of Science 19.3 (2010): 258-273.
Group activity: We practice video analysis.
Further reading [Optional]:
Marres, N. “Why map issues? On controversy analysis as a digital method.” Science, Technology, & Human Values 40.5 (2015): 655-686.
Lepawsky, J., Davis, J. M., Akese, G., Persaud, D. Cooking with controversies: How geographers might use controversy mapping as a research tool.” Professional Geographer, 71.3 (2019): 437-448.

Week 11. Participatory methodologies in STS.
Lezaun, J., Noortje, M., Tironi, M. “Experiments in participation.” In: Felt, U., et al, eds. The handbook of science and technology. MIT Press (2016): 195-223.
Group activity: We practice one of the participatory methodologies.
Further reading [Optional]:
Chilvers, J., Kearnes, M. (eds.) Remaking participation. Science, environment and emergent publics. Routledge (2017).
Waller, L., Gugganig, M. “Re-visioning public engagement with emerging technology: A digital methods experiment on ‘vertical farming.’” Public Understanding of Science, 30.5 (2021): 588–604.

Week 12. Final discussion.
Final paper’s presentations and discussions.

Exam week. Group consultations with the professor.
Assignments: Final paper due.




Last updated: July 3, 2023


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