Author Archives: Marianne Mäkelin

CFP: STS Helsinki: Methods in Motion at the Annual Conference of the Westermarck Society 2023

STS Helsinki will host the working group ‘Methods in Motion’ at The Annual Conference of The Westermarck Society 2022 in Tampere 23–24 March 2023.

STS Helsinki: Methods in Motion


Marianne Mäkelin,

Santtu Räisänen,

The sociology of science has always taken a keen interest in the practices by which scientific facts are constructed, their credibility produced and their uncertainty tamed. In this panel, we turn this analytic eye to methodological explorations in sociology itself. While methods with long traditions are often seen as the gold standard of knowledge production, increasingly we are seeing interest in escapades into new methodological territories. For example, in STS researchers have borrowed from aesthetic or design practices to produce knowledge by walking (Thorsen 2016), “mind-scripting” (Allhutter 2011) or producing “biographies of artefacts and practices” (Hyysalo et. al 2019). Engaging in STS inspired self-reflexivity, we feel that there is room for discussion about how these kinds of explorations are formed and what they aim at.

To engage with the conference theme of knowledge and doubt, this year STS Helsinki will organize a panel about methodological experiments, crossovers, and collaborations.

How do we produce knowledge? What might be rendered knowable by verging beyond well-theorized methods such as interviews and observation? How do we theorize with them? What kinds of claims do we make with them? To what extent do our more commonly used methods entail adjustments, improvisation, and risk? What can or should be doubted, and what role does doubt play in doing (social) science?

We invite presentations dealing with these questions, from out-there experiments to more down-to-earth reflections. We hope the panel could serve as a meeting point for researchers interested in experimental methods. We are also interested in if and how your methodological explorations draw from STS.

 Presentations in both English and Finnish are welcome.

Please apply to the working group by via the abstract submission form linked here. The deadline is Tuesday 31th of January 2022.

For more information about the conference, please go to:

STS Helsinki seminar 25.5.: David Moats

For our seminar in May, STS Helsinki will host David Moats. Welcome to the talk, which will be held at Unioninkatu 35, room 113, at 13:15–14:45!

The ‘Problem’ with Definitions of Fairness: A Reflection on Interdisciplinarity in AI Ethics

It is increasingly understood that attempts to make artificial intelligence (AI) or autonomous systems ‘fair’, ‘accountable’ or ‘transparent’ will require collaboration between different disciplines. Yet it has frequently been noted that these key terms, like ‘fairness’ or ‘bias’ or ‘discrimination’ have different uses for different communities in the emerging field of AI Ethics. While some scholars might see these divergent uses of words as an obstacle to more fruitful inter- or trans-disciplinary work, in this paper I argue, that these competing uses of terms may be an opportunity, in fact a precondition for the development of interdisciplinary projects. Drawing on experiences of working in an interdisciplinary team on a project attempting to map the field of AI Ethics with quantitative and qualitative tools, I recount several moments of disciplinary tension which, I argue, reconfigured the ‘problem’ of the project in productive ways. These moments only arose through unexpected juxtapositions of terms, methods or ways of knowing the world. Following this insight, we propose an experimental intervention: a workshop exercise intended to provoke such moments of disjuncture in interdisciplinary groups, using a novel visualization of AI Ethics literature.

David Moats is Research Fellow in the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Helsinki. His research is mainly about digitization and the role of machine learning and artificial intelligence in transforming various industries including media, healthcare, politics and academia. He is also interested in the methodological implications of these new sources of digital data and techniques like data visualizations for the socialsciences and interdisciplinary collaborations. A book he co-edited with Steve Woolgar, Else Vogel and CF Helgesson, called The Imposter as Social Theory, was published by Bristol University Press in 2021.

STS Helsinki seminar 16.3. with Aaro Tupasela: When the National Population Becomes a Brand – Marketing National Resources for Global Data Markets

For the March instalment of our seminar series, we will be joined by Aaro Tupasela. The talk will be held at Metsätalo, Unioninkatu 40, room 18 on 16th March at 13:15–14:45, welcome all!

When the National Population Becomes a Brand – Marketing National Resources for Global Data Markets

In this talk I will discuss how country branding has extended into the realm of national data resources. I describe how Denmark and Finland have begun to market and brand their resources using methods and practices drawn from the commercial sector. National and public resources, such as biobanks, electronic health care records, population registers and national statistics have become the object of branding. I argue that this phenomenon constitutes a novel form of nation branding in which relations between the states, individuals and the private sector are re-aligned. The historical underpinnings of population branding can be found in the field of medical genetics starting in the early 1960s but transforming significantly during the 2010s into a professional marketing activity undertaken at multiple levels and sites. In studying this recent phenomenon, I provide examples of how marketing material has become increasingly professional and targeted towards a broader audience, including the public. The talk will be of particular interest to scholars of critical data studies and nation branding, as well as students of science and technology studies, sociology and marketing.

Aaro Tupasela works as a Finnish Center for Artificial Intelligence (FCAI) research fellow at the Faculty of Social Science, University of Helsinki. Previously he has worked as an Associate professor at the Faculty of Law and The Centre for Medical Science and Technology Studies (MeST), Department of Public Health at the University of Copenhagen. His current work centers around what he has termed Critical Nordic Data Studies, which explores the changing landscape of data logistics in Nordic welfare states like Finland and Denmark.

STS Helsinki seminar 10.2. Salla Sariola: Social study of microbes: fermentation as a method of doing STS otherwise

Welcome to the STS Helsinki seminar series’ first talk of the spring, held by Salla Sariola on 10th February at 14:15 EET.

Social study of microbes: fermentation as a method of doing STS otherwise

Salla Sariola is the Director of the Centre for the Social Study of Microbes at University of Helsinki and a Finnish Academy Research Fellow in sociology. Her current research on the social study of microbes includes exploring changing scientific practices on environmental microbes and antimicrobial resistance and well as developing fermentation as an experimental research method. She is the author of four books and her fieldwork has taken her to feminist, queer and HIV activist movements in India and Kenya, hospitals of Sri Lanka, and rural laboratories in Benin and Burkina Faso, as well as fermentation enthusiasts in Finland the Northeast of India.

Join us on Zoom:

Call for papers: Collaboration as Social Practice

Collaborative Research Environments and Engagements Across Disciplinary and Institutional Divides

Science Studies Symposium 2022, Helsinki, June 9-10, organized by the Finnish Society for Science and Technology Studies (FSSTS)

See the symposium website:

The necessity of interdisciplinary research collaboration and partnering across professional and institutional divides is mainstream discourse in today’s academic culture. Funders are keen to support collaboration for innovative results and effective scientific and technological solutions that match the complexity of societal problems. Below this general desire for interdisciplinarity, the aspects, benefits, and problems of actuating collaboration across disciplinary and institutional divides are a matter of situated practices, conventions, and tacit understandings of how collaboration can be made to work – if it can be made to work.

Are these engagements and collaborations delivering what they promise? What are the promises? How do we collaborate? What triumphs, difficulties and challenges are typical to these arrangements in practice?


· Petri Ylikoski, University of Helsinki

· Nicholette Priaulx and Martin Weinel, Cardiff University

· Salla Sariola, University of Helsinki

· Antti Silvast, Technical University of Denmark (DTU)

The 2022 FSSTS symposium invites both track proposals for panel sessions and individual presentation proposals:

1. Track proposals

· Should broadly relate to the CFP themes. The deadline for track proposals (300-450 words) is February 15, 2022. Send your proposal to

2. Individual presentations

· We invite individual presentations (10-15 minutes) relating to the CFP themes – presentations can be A) topically independent, or B) they can be directed to the suggested tracks. Please submit an abstract of max 250 words to The deadline for these submissions is April 1, 2022.

Suggested tracks include thematic considerations, methodological reflections on collaboration, the promise of transdisciplinary approaches, the role of affects and affective labor in research collaboration, gender features in collaborative context, collaboration and societal impact, research ethics in collaboration, and collaboration stories

STS Helsinki seminar series 9.12.: Antti Silvast & Mikko J. Virtanen On Theory–Methods Packages in Science and Technology Studies

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:

Meeting ID: 651 8184 0469

Passcode: 709680.


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.

Silvast, A., & Virtanen, M. J. (2021). On Theory–Methods Packages in Science and Technology Studies. Science, Technology, & Human Values, 01622439211040241.

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.

STS Helsinki seminar series 4.11. : Lotte Groth Jensen

Our seminar series continues with a talk by Lotte Groth Jensen with the title “The implementation of personalised medicine in Denmark – A sociotechnical imaginary framing the welfare state

Lotte Groth Jensen is Postdoctoral researcher at University of Copenhagen and a Senior Researcher at DEFACTUM.

Her talk will discuss the implementation of personalized medicine in Denmark from a political and administrative perspective. The presentation builds on work with strategy papers and interviews with different political actors. The analysis shows how political actors find a room for action in a situation where no action is possible at a first glance. They do so by constructing a sociotechnical imaginary which mobilizes the concepts of public and private and places personalized medicine in the public domain. The concepts of public and private are connected to a more fundamental discussion of the organization of society and through strategy papers on personalized medicine, political actors envision and communicate the wished for development of personalized medicine and more fundamentally the welfare state. In this way, the sociotechnical imaginary of personalized medicine becomes a sociotechnical imaginary supporting the continuation of the welfare state and reinforces a particular understanding of the relation between state and the public.

The seminar will be held and Unioninkatu 35, room 114, 4.11. from 2–4 PM.

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
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
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
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 Helsinki
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

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


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

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. Deadline has been extended until 12 February!