How Should STS Address Inequality? As a Subject, a (Dis)Value)? Theoretical and Empirical Perspectives

An absolutely fascinating 4S panel from Ana Vara and David Tyfield:

2019 New Orleans Sept 4-7

Open Panel 69: How Should STS Address Inequality? As a Subject, a (Dis)Value)? Theoretical and Empirical Perspectives

In technoscientific times of huge and increasing inequalities that involve almost all aspects of social life, both within and between countries, questions regarding inequality seem unavoidable to STS scholars, both from an analytical and an ethical standpoint. Specifically, the roles of technoscience in conditioning how inequality is created and augmented, and the (possibly novel) nature of its impacts on trajectories of innovation and vice versa emerge as central concerns.

STS has a long history of engagement with such issues. Since the early days of the field, the study of controversies (e.g. Nelkin) has highlighted the unequal distribution of risks and benefits in the development and implementation of many technologies, contributing to entire new fields of research such as environmental justice. Other topics related to inequality addressed by STS include working conditions, race, access to health, and gender. The study of the production of knowledge has also taken into account the differential status of knowledge according to its origin. While the study of ignorance is a relatively newer focus, with categories such as “undone science” by David Hess et al. targeting inequality quite specifically.

However, in spite of its sustained concern, STS has not developed specific theoretical frameworks on inequality. This panel invites discussion of the possibility and desirability of the development of specific theoretical frameworks on inequality in STS, as well as how contributions from other disciplines can be accommodated. From an empirical perspective, this Panel encourages contributions on cases where this problematic issue is central in different ways.

Ana Vara, National University of San Martín, Argentina
David Tyfield, Lancaster University, UK


The deadline for submissions at the conference website ( or via is February 1st, 2019

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