The Third Wave of Science Studies: Developments and Politics

Collins, Harry 2011 forthcoming. `The Third Wave of Science Studies: Developments and Politics’ Japan Journal for Science, Technology & Society, Vol. 20, 00, 000-000

Abstract: The paper which marks the beginning of the program known as `The Third Wave of Science Studies’ was published in 2002 (Collins and Evans, 2002).  It was intended to be a small incremental contribution to Science and Technology Studies (STS) but, to the authors’ surprise, it engendered a great deal of opposition and adverse comment.  In a perverse way this may turn out to have been a good thing as it forced the authors to devote much more effort to explaining and developing the program so as to counter their critics.  Whatever the reasons, in its seven years since publication the paper has been by a factor of three or four the most cited paper in the journal Social Studies of Science and is now the second-most cited paper in that journal’s 38-year history.  It has also attracted a growing group who do research and analysis based on the original ideas and those worked out in the subsequent publications including the book entitled Rethinking Expertise

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Being an extract from the final substantive chapter of:
Collins, Harry, (2010 forthcoming) Gravity’s Ghost: The Equinox Event and Science in the 21st Century, Chicago: University of Chicago Press

Abstract: The state of science in the 21st Century is considered and a division is made between those characteristics that are `derived’ from other cultural institutions – such as hero-worship, the worship of obscure texts, a religious anti-religionism, and an adherence to capitalism – and those which enable science to give leadership because of its special qualities.  This division is related to that required for an elective modernism.  Science, if it were describe itself  as a gradual and fallible uncovering, rather a series of point discoveries, could give leadership in the right way to make difficult, technologically-related, judgments.

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