The STS Helsinki seminar series returns on Thursday 9.12. at 14:15 with a talk by Antti Silvast & Mikko J. Virtanen. The event will be held on Zoom: https://helsinki.zoom.us/j/65181840469?pwd=SVlUYnFhaVB2cTEyaXhmVzlLNjNvdz09
Meeting ID: 651 8184 0469
On Theory–Methods Packages in Science and Technology Studies
Antti Silvast (Technical University of Denmark (DTU)
Mikko J. Virtanen (University of Helsinki)
Our presentation draws on a series of published scholarship (Silvast & Virtanen, 2019; 2021; Virtanen & Silvast, 2020) that has contributed to the long-standing and vibrant discussion in Science and Technology Studies (STS) on methods, methodologies, and theory–method relationships. We aim to improve the reflexivity of research by unpacking the often implicit assumptions that imbue research conduct and by offering practical tools through which STS researchers can recognize their research designs and think through them in a new way. To achieve these aims, we analyze different compositions of theories, methods, and empirics in three different STS approaches—actor–network theory, the biography of artifacts and practices, and ethnomethodology—by employing the concept of a theory–methods package (TMP). A selection of theoretical cornerstone texts and case studies in infrastructure research from each tradition serves as our material. Our findings point, first, to differences between the TMPs of the reviewed approaches and to the internal diversity of theory–method relationships in each approach. Second, we found some intriguing similarities between the approaches and discuss potential complementarities of their theory–method fits. The presentation concludes by presenting our own research design and its TMP: specifically, a multi-sited ethnography of the energy infrastructure, including the enactment of its risk management and markets in regulatory policy, specialized control rooms, and everyday life in households.
Silvast, A., & Virtanen, M. J. (2019). An assemblage of framings and tamings: multi-sited analysis of infrastructures as a methodology. Journal of Cultural Economy, 12(6), 461-477. https://doi.org/10.1080/17530350.2019.1646156
Silvast, A., & Virtanen, M. J. (2021). On Theory–Methods Packages in Science and Technology Studies. Science, Technology, & Human Values, 01622439211040241. https://doi.org/10.1177%2F01622439211040241
Virtanen, M. J., & Silvast, A. (2020). Monipaikkainen kehystymistutkimus. Sosiologia, 57(2), 183–202.
Antti Silvast is starting in December 2021 as an Associate Professor at the Technical University of Denmark (DTU), DTU Management, Department of Technology, Management and Economics. He is a Sociologist examining energy infrastructure, most recently smart systems, methodology, and energy modelling. He is an editor of Science & Technology Studies, the official journal of the European Association for the Study of Science and Technology (EASST) and an author of 24 peer-reviewed articles, 10 book chapters, and 2 scientific monographs (including with Routledge). Prior to his appointment at DTU, he held postdoctoral positions at Princeton University (Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies), University of Edinburgh (Science, Technology and Innovation Studies), Durham University (Department of Anthropology), and Norwegian University of Science and Technology (Interdisciplinary Studies of Culture). He received his PhD from the University of Helsinki (Sociology, 2013).
Mikko J. Virtanen is a versatile sociologist with theoretical orientation. He holds a title of docent of sociology and works currently as a university lecturer in the discipline at the University of Helsinki. He is also the principal investigator of the CLIMAKEDO research project. Mikko is interested in both general issues of social theory, social science methodology and qualitative research methods and topical phenomena related to health and ethics, environment and climate, and science and technology. In his recent work on infrastructures of HPV vaccination, energy transportation and climate knowledge, Mikko combines his theoretical scholarship and accurate multi-sited research to generate original outputs of both case studies and research design building. The results of his work have been published in 14 peer-reviewed articles during the last three years.