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Call for papers: Science, technology and society working group at The Annual Conference of the Westermarck Society

STS Helsinki will host the working group ‘Science, technology and society’ at The Annual conference of the Westermarck Society 2021 in Helsinki 11–12 March 2021. This year the theme of the conference is sociology of hope. Keynote speakers include Matthew Desmond and Akwugo Emejulu.

The conference will be organized partly online and partly on-campus in Helsinki, if possible. All working groups in the 2021 conference will take place online on Zoom.

Science, technology and society

Co-ordinators:

Marianne Mäkelin, University of Helsinki, marianne.makelin[at]helsinki.fi
Vera Raivola, University of Eastern Finland, vera.raivola[at]veripalvelu.fi
Jose A. Cañada, jose.a.canada[at]helsinki.fi

Science and Technology Studies (STS) is an interdisciplinary field of study that examines the interaction between society, science, and technology. STS pays attention to how different fields, such as law, politics, and everyday life, become intertwined with science and technology. This is relevant when thinking about heatedly debated topics as diverse as climate change, the role of experts, medicine, genetics, gender, robotics or organic food. The field calls for a deeper understanding of the development, processes, practices and outcomes of such social phenomena. STS explores the mechanisms behind knowledge claims and ontological assumptions that guide our everyday. Or, as a prominent STS scholar, Steve Woolgar, has said: STS looks at how the world defined by science and technology “could be otherwise”.

STS Helsinki calls for theoretical, methodological and empirical papers on current research in social studies of science. Papers both in Finnish and English are welcome. The aim of this working group is to offer a forum to discuss the practices that contribute to the shaping of technoscientific objects and subjects. How is scientific knowledge established and negotiated, and how do historical processes contribute to the development of certain technologies? We especially welcome papers that reflect on the role of hope in the field of STS. This working group is defined as a meeting point for both Finnish and international scholars to share and discuss their work with others studying science, technology and society.

Please apply to the working group by sending your abstract to the working group coordinators. The deadline is Friday 29th January 2021. The maximum length of abstracts is 300 words and they should be in .doc, .docx, or .rtf format.

STS Helsinki Seminar – Małgorzata Rajtar, 21.01, 16:15

We are happy to continue our seminar series in in 2021 with a talk by Małgorzata Rajtar:

21 January, 16:15–17:45 (EET)

Małgorzata Rajtar, Prof. IFiS/Associate Professor, Institute of Philosophy & Sociology, Polish Academy of Sciences/Rare Disease Social Research Center

Website: http://rdsrc.ifispan.pl/en/researcher/malgorzata-rajtar-2/

Health Passports and Vulnerability
The Case of Rare Diseases

Rare diseases have held a special status within health policy of the European Union (EU) since 2000. According to key EU legal documents on this issue, patients who suffer from a rare disease are entitled to the same good quality care as others. Due to the “low prevalence” of each rare disease and simultaneously the large total number of patients affected by them – between 27 and 36 million people in the EU – individuals who belong to this group are regarded as particularly vulnerable.

Drawing from ethnographic fieldwork and insights from two sets of scholarship: (1) bioethical and health policy scholarship on vulnerability, and (2) social science literature on materialities, in this presentation I analyze health policy instruments that are tailored to rare diseases. Specifically, I will focus on so called healthcare passports and alert cards that are aimed at facilitating access to treatment for patients with a rare disease. As rare disease materialities draw biomedical attention to conditions patients live with, these documents may fuel paternalistic and biomedically-biased practices and impinge on patient privacy.

Join the seminar via Zoom:

Topic: STS Helsinki Seminar – Małgorzata Rajtar
Time: Jan 21, 2021 04:15 PM Helsinki

Join Zoom Meeting
https://helsinki.zoom.us/j/65487293108?pwd=SU5wOHRCOHZFUjJucTQ3TmdOYWt4Zz09

Meeting ID: 654 8729 3108
Passcode: 102357
One tap mobile
+493056795800,,65487293108#,,,,*102357# Germany
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+49 30 5679 5800 Germany
+49 69 3807 9883 Germany
+49 695 050 2596 Germany
+49 69 7104 9922 Germany
Meeting ID: 654 8729 3108
Passcode: 102357
Find your local number: https://helsinki.zoom.us/u/cesfDnCNW

Join by SIP
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65487293108@109.105.112.235

Join by H.323
109.105.112.236
109.105.112.235
Meeting ID: 654 8729 3108
Passcode: 102357

 

Spring schedule for the STS Helsinki Seminar Series

The STS Helsinki Seminar Series will continue in spring 2021 with talks by both Finnish and international scholars. We are especially happy to get back to our regularly scheduled events after having to cancel a large part of our programme in 2020. We hope the seminar series will continue to be a place to bring together people interested in STS, and look forward to continuing to host lively discussions around the themes this spring.

All talks in the spring programme are planned to take place online. Details will be posted closer to each event.

21 January 2021, 16:15–17:45
Małgorzata Rajtar, Prof. IFiS/Associate Professor, Institute of Philosophy & Sociology, Polish Academy of Sciences/Rare Disease Social Research Center http://rdsrc.ifispan.pl/en/researcher/malgorzata-rajtar-2/
Health passports and vulnerability: The case of rare diseases

18 March 2021, 14:15–15:45
Sampsa Hyysalo, Professor of Co-Design, Aalto University, School of Art, Design and Architecture
https://people.aalto.fi/sampsa.hyysalo
Method matters in the social study of technology: Investigating the biographies of artifacts and practices

29 April 2021, 14:15–15:45
Mikko Ojanen, Information specialist, Helsinki University Library, DataSupport
https://researchportal.helsinki.fi/en/persons/mikko-ojanen
Engaging with electronic music technology in Finland in the 60s and 70s

27 May 2021, 14:15–15:45
Heta Tarkkala, Postdoctoral researcher, University of Eastern Finland
https://researchportal.helsinki.fi/en/persons/heta-tarkkala
Visual arts in the presentation of research results in qualitative social science – reflections on collaboration with an illustrator

Video recording of Ilpo Helén’s talk: What does sociotechnical imply?

We are excited to have been able to come back with the STS Helsinki seminar series after a hiatus this spring.

The new, now virtual programme was kicked off on 3 December with a talk by Ilpo Helén on the concept of sociotechnical. A video recording of the seminar is now available and will stay up until 18 December. If you missed the event as it happened, you can listen Helén’s talk on the University of Helsinki video service:

Ilpo Helén: What does sociotechnical imply? Conceptual fieldwork with a case of data mining in healthcare

STS Helsinki seminar series continues in December: Ilpo Helén

We are happy to continue our seminar series in December with a talk by Ilpo Helén:

3 December, 14:15–15:45
What does ”sociotechnical” imply? 
Conceptual fieldwork with a case of data mining in healthcare

Ilpo Helén’s talk is about a trend in many discussions of social sciences to replace “social” with “sociotechnical” both as the subject of study and as an attribute. He elaborates what “sociotechnical” as a concept possibly implies in the context of this tendency, with focus on Bruno Latour’s critique of sociological theory and his suggestion of ‘sociology of associations’. Finally, Helén asks how the idea of ‘sociotechnical’ and Latour’s ‘sociology of associations’ would work in an empirical study, using a case of datafication-in-the-making in healthcare as an illustrative example.

Ilpo Helén is a professor of sociology in University of Eastern Finland

Join the seminar via Zoom:
Topic: STS Helsinki Seminar Series // Ilpo Helén: What does ”sociotechnical” imply?
Time: Dec 3, 2020 02:15 PM Helsinki

https://helsinki.zoom.us/j/62327438269?pwd=RTdGZHd0SDAxR3VWc1VrRnFFT09tZz09 

Meeting ID: 623 2743 8269
Passcode: 170980
One tap mobile
+496971049922,,62327438269#,,,,,,0#,,170980# Germany
+493056795800,,62327438269#,,,,,,0#,,170980# Germany

Dial by your location
+49 69 7104 9922 Germany
+49 30 5679 5800 Germany
+49 69 3807 9883 Germany
+49 695 050 2596 Germany
Meeting ID: 623 2743 8269
Passcode: 170980
Find your local number: https://helsinki.zoom.us/u/cdsSnRSJyH

Join by SIP
62327438269@109.105.112.236
62327438269@109.105.112.235

Join by H.323
109.105.112.236
109.105.112.235
Meeting ID: 623 2743 8269
Passcode: 170980

 

Local get-together EASST/4S Meeting 2020 in Helsinki

Dear all,

If you are a Finland-based researcher (or happen to be around during the time of the conference) attending the EASST/4S annual meeting between the 18th and the 21st of August, please keep reading. If you are not, remember that they offer a more economic “Non-presenter” registration that gives access to all the panels and sessions of the conference.

STS Helsinki and the Finnish Society for Science and Technology Studies organise the local F2F EASST/4S meeting get-together on Friday, 21st of August from 18 onwards, after Suplenary 1 “Locating matters”, which will take place via Zoom. For those in Helsinki (or visiting), the plan is to meet after the session in Kaisla (Vilhonkatu 4) to share some drinks and reflections on the conference. Participants in other Finnish cities are encouraged to organise parallel meetings!

Since organising a viewing session for the plenary seems unfeasible given the circumstances, some people (those who feel comfortable with it) might want to organise smaller groups to watch the plenary with some company. If you want to find others or help with the coordination of the get-together, please join our WhatsApp chat group.

Please be aware that the actual happening of the get-together depends, of course, on the recommendations and regulations of the Finnish government regarding the pandemic. We hope to get the chance of making the now virtual EASST/4S meeting a bit less virtual!

Best,

The coordinating team

Heta Tarkkala, Jose A. Cañada, and Minna Saariketo

Cancelled: Next STS Helsinki seminar Thu 19th March: Małgorzata Rajtar

Edit: This event has been cancelled.

Thu 19 March 14:15–15:45, Room 7, Metsätalo, Fabianinkatu 39.

Małgorzata Rajtar, associate Professor, Institute of Philosophy and Sociology at the Polish Academy of Sciences.
Health Passports and Vulnerability: The Case of Rare Diseases

Abstract:

Rare diseases have held a special status within health policy of the European Union (EU) since the 1990s. According to key EU legal documents on this issue, patients who suffer from a rare disease are entitled to the same good quality care as others. Due to the “low prevalence” of each rare disease and simultaneously the large total number of patients affected by them – between 27 and 36 million people in the EU – individuals who belong to this group are regarded as particularly vulnerable.

My aims in this presentation are twofold. First, I examine current notions of vulnerability prevalent in social sciences, bioethics as well as research ethics, specifically in regard to people living with rare diseases. Second, I analyze “instruments” developed by health policies that are tailored to rare diseases. By focusing on the so called “health passport”, I argue that such policies often increase the danger of paternalistic practices and may contribute to discrimination and stigmatizing.

 

Małgorzata Rajtar, PhD is Associate Professor and the Head of Rare Disease Social Research Center in the Institute of Philosophy & Sociology at the Polish Academy of Sciences in Warsaw (http://rdsrc.ifispan.pl/en/). She was a EURIAS Senior Fellow at the Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies in Finland (2018-2019) as well as an Alexander von Humboldt Postdoctoral Fellow at the Freie University in Berlin, Germany (2011-2013) among others. Since 2016 she has been conducting ethnographic research on rare metabolic diseases in the Baltic Region.

 

Next Helsinki STS seminar Wed 29th January: Jose A. Cañada

29 January, 14.15-15.45 Room 10, Metsätalo, Fabianinkatu 39.
Jose A. Cañada, postdoctoral researcher at the University of Helsinki, Faculty of Social Sciences.
Local enactments of global health: thinking about scale-making with microbes

Abstract
What does it take for a phenomenon to be global? How many countries or regions need to engage with it? How does the material manifest in the global scale? Existing literature has argued that the global is not so by itself, but it is made of locally situated practices mostly enacted from Western technoscientific and policy spaces (e.g. Blok, 2010; Law, 2004; Tsing, 2005). Its impact, on the other hand, has the potential to be much wider than that. This is a topic of great relevance when looking at global health policies, the priorities that they formulate, and the implementations that they propose – although it applies to many globally formulated challenges such as climate, sustainability, or innovation, especially when elaborated in terms of development.

The session will reflect on the relevance of scale-making in global health challenges and, more specifically, in those that are formulated around the activity of microbial forms of life, such as pandemic threats and antimicrobial resistance (AMR). These cases are especially interesting because besides the complexities of the multi-scalar character of the global, they must deal with the microscopic scale of viruses and bacteria. This entails a struggle to make visible (or at least perceptible) something that is not for most involved actors. This mobilizes the use of different methods and practices (some more technical than others).

In global health, scale-making must be taken into account not only as part of the studied field, but also in our own practices as social researchers. Consequently, the lecture will formulate questions of relevance to scale-making not only from the perspective of how it is carried out by those who do global health, but also from the perspective of its study as a sociotechnical activity, reflecting on the methodological and analytical implications of studying global phenomena in situated spaces.

 

Jose A. Cañada is a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Helsinki, Faculty of Social Sciences. He has a PhD from the University of Helsinki (2018). He has been especially interested in the production of knowledge and material practices associated to sociotechnical controversies, working on topics such as pandemic preparedness and response, biobanking and the development of water infrastructures. He is currently working in the project Social study of antimicrobial resistance: health care, animals, and ethics (SoSAMiRe), where he studies issues related to AMR global policy-making, knowledge production, and implementation.

STS Helsinki Seminar Programme Spring 2020

The STS Helsinki Seminar Series is a seminar series by the STS Helsinki research collective. Our aim is to create a space for in-depth conversations about current research in Science and Technology Studies (STS). The topics cover a wide range of contemporary issues, such as climate change, the role of experts, medicine, genetics, gender, robotics or organic food. The seminars function as a platform for strengthening the STS community in Finland and bringing STS to new audiences. All scholars, students and audiences interested in the interaction between science, society and technology are welcome!

Seminar programme / Spring 2020

Wed 29 January, 14.15-15.45 Room 10, Metsätalo, Fabianinkatu 39.
Jose A. Cañada, postdoctoral researcher at the University of Helsinki, Faculty of Social Sciences.
Local enactments of global health: thinking about scale-making with microbes

Wed 26 February 14:15-15:45 Room 11, Metsätalo, Fabianinkatu 39.
Steven Fuller, professor, University of Warwick
Social Epistemology and STS: Can They Survive the Post-Truth Condition?

Thu 19 March 14:15-15:45 Room 7, Metsätalo, Fabianinkatu 39.
Malgorzata Rajtar, associate Professor, Institute of Philosophy and Sociology at the Polish Academy of Sciences.
Health Passports and Vulnerability: The Case of Rare Diseases

Thu 16 April 14:15-15:45 Room 12, Metsätalo, Fabianinkatu 39.
Ilpo Helen, professor of Sociology, University of Eastern Finland
What does ”sociotechnical” imply? Conceptual fieldwork with a case of data mining in health care

Thu 14 May 14:15-15:45 Room 7, Metsätalo, Fabianinkatu 39.
Sampsa Hyysalo, professor of co-design, Aalto School of, Art, Design and Architecture
Method matters in the social study of technology: Investigating the biographies of artifacts and practices.

STS Courses at the University of Helsinki

During the Spring 2020 following Science & Technology Studies related courses are offered for the students (the list will be updated!):

  • The Politics of Environmental Knowledge course gives students knowledge and tools to critically evaluate the role of science and scientific knowledge in understanding environmental problems and creating solutions for them. Students will be able to apply the theoretical concepts from science and technology studies (STS) to the analysis of historical and current environmental issues.
  • Imagination in Environmental Politics course supplies the students with skills to critically review existing conceptual categorizations and conceptualizations of the future within the field of environmental politics (theoretical aspect); critically apply these categorizations and conceptualizations in relation to specific empirical cases (empirical aspect); and critically assess and evaluate existing future-oriented narration of different kinds and registers (methodological aspect).
  • Analytical approaches to human environmental interaction course gives students the skills to conduct critical interdisciplinary analyses of problems arising in interactions between technology, society and the environment. They can propose theoretically sound, evidence based and sustainable solutions to complex environmental problems. They have the communication skills to convincingly present the solutions to the relevant stakeholders. They are mentally prepared to take on professional challenges in environmental policy analysis, planning, decision-making, implementation and assessment.
  • There are book exams organized in Technology Studies , in Science Studies and in Environment, Technology and Culture. Moreover,  TOTEMI is an ongoing PhD seminar.

 

PAST COURSES (Fall 2019):

  • Science in Society course for doctoral students aims at developing participants’ understanding about how science and scientific experts(/expertise) influence and relate to society and its institutions. the course also provides an opportunity to reflect upon the participants’ own developing expertise in their fields of study.
  • Science Studies course for Master’s and Doctoral Students has two objectives. First, to become familiar with the main streams of thought in STS, the most important authors, situate them in their historical context, and understand how they relate to each other. And second, to be able to discuss different STS approaches in light of their different critiques and relate them to contemporary debates in the field.
  • Artificial Intelligence and Society course introduces students to current discussions, debates, as well as developments in the field of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) from a social scientific perspective. The course will also provide the students with an overview of political, legal and ethical debates surrounding the development of AI.