Sociology Days 2018 Working Group Report

As we have previously mentioned in this blog, the STS Helsinki group organized for the second consecutive year a working group in the annual conference Sociology Days, which this year took place in the University of Eastern Finland, in the Joensuu campus. We are happy to bring you the report of our two sessions with a small summary of all of our very interesting presentations. Looking forward to organizing it again next year!

Working group: Science, technology and society

Organizers: Heta Tarkkala (University of Eastern Finland), Vera Raivola (University of Eastern Finland) and Karoliina Snell (University of Helsinki)

The working group ’Science, technology and society’ had in total ten presentations during two sessions organized on Thursday, 15th and Friday, 16th of March. The presentations discussed a variety of topics related to sociology related topics and other disciplines, mostly to medical science. First, Jose Cañada (University of Helsinki) had a presentation about his doctoral dissertation. The study focuses on how global health threats are conceptualized and how, for the sake of governance strategies, there are identification and categorization processes, which are connected to human and nonhuman actors. Salla Sariola (University of Turku) and Elina Oinas (University of Helsinki) continued the conversation about human and nonhuman actors from cooperative initiatives connected to vaccination research in Benin. Vaccines help to prevent diarrhea and antibiotic resistance. Finnish tourists experience their relation with the environment, microbes and bacteria in very concrete and different ways. Next presentation, by Venla Oikkonen (University of Helsinki), discussed the connection between Influenza vaccines and narcolepsy. What and how that connection is articulated differs in, for example, statistics, science or the media. The second half of the Thursday session was reserved to discussions related to the study of sociology as a discipline. Mikko Hyyryläinen (University of Helsinki) discussed the building of cognitive sociology as a sub-field of study inside sociology. More concretely, he discussed what the field is at the moment and what it could yet become. In the last presentation of the first day, Johanna Hokka (University of Tampere) continued the conversation about the scientific practice of sociology by discussing professor discourses on high quality research and measurements of legitimacy.

Friday opened with Vera Raivola (University of Eastern Finland), who pondered how participation in the new biobank of the Finnish blood services (Veripalvelu) is understood as part of the wider practice of blood donation and the role of blood donors. Annerose Böhrer (Friedrich-Alexander University, Erlangen Nürnberg) continued by presenting how she utilized metaphor analysis in her research on organ donation in Germany. One of the most important points was the role of the organ donor card, which worked as a material and discursive object. Mikko Jauho (University of Helsinki) discussed in his presentation how fat and cholesterol figured as a double risk object in the cardiovascular arena. The presentation of Riikka Homanen (University of Helsinki) discussed heteronormativity in relation to understandings of family. The presentation discussed this in the context of reproductive care sought by lesbian couples and single women. Karoliina Snell (University of Helsinki) and Heta Tarkkala (University of Eastern Finland) gave the last presentation of the working group. It discussed Nordic and national collaboration strategies for the exploitation and development of health data. Nordic populations are identified as a ‘gold mine’ and the presentation wondered what this gold actually is and what we can get from digging it.