Donald MacKenzie

Donald MacKenzie is Professor of Sociology (Personal Chair) at the University of Edinburgh. His books include Inventing Accuracy (1990), Knowing Machines (1996), and Mechanizing Proof (2001), all published by the MIT Press. Portions of An Engine, not a Camera won the Viviana A. Zelizer Prize in economic sociology from the American Sociological Association.

  • An Engine, Not a Camera

    An Engine, Not a Camera

    How Financial Models Shape Markets

    Donald MacKenzie

    In An Engine, Not a Camera, Donald MacKenzie argues that the emergence of modern economic theories of finance affected financial markets in fundamental ways. These new, Nobel Prize-winning theories, based on elegant mathematical models of markets, were not simply external analyses but intrinsic parts of economic processes.

    Paraphrasing Milton Friedman, MacKenzie says that economic models are an engine of inquiry rather than a camera to reproduce empirical facts. More than that, the emergence of an authoritative theory of financial markets altered those markets fundamentally. For example, in 1970, there was almost no trading in financial derivatives such as "futures." By June of 2004, derivatives contracts totaling $273 trillion were outstanding worldwide. MacKenzie suggests that this growth could never have happened without the development of theories that gave derivatives legitimacy and explained their complexities.

    MacKenzie examines the role played by finance theory in the two most serious crises to hit the world's financial markets in recent years: the stock market crash of 1987 and the market turmoil that engulfed the hedge fund Long-Term Capital Management in 1998. He also looks at finance theory that is somewhat beyond the mainstream—chaos theorist Benoit Mandelbrot's model of "wild" randomness. MacKenzie's pioneering work in the social studies of finance will interest anyone who wants to understand how America's financial markets have grown into their current form.

    • Hardcover $9.75
    • Paperback $34.00
  • Mechanizing Proof

    Mechanizing Proof

    Computing, Risk, and Trust

    Donald MacKenzie

    Most aspects of our private and social lives—our safety, the integrity of the financial system, the functioning of utilities and other services, and national security—now depend on computing. But how can we know that this computing is trustworthy? In Mechanizing Proof, Donald MacKenzie addresses this key issue by investigating the interrelations of computing, risk, and mathematical proof over the last half century from the perspectives of history and sociology. His discussion draws on the technical literature of computer science and artificial intelligence and on extensive interviews with participants.

    MacKenzie argues that our culture now contains two ideals of proof: proof as traditionally conducted by human mathematicians, and formal, mechanized proof. He describes the systems constructed by those committed to the latter ideal and the many questions those systems raise about the nature of proof. He looks at the primary social influence on the development of automated proof—the need to predict the behavior of the computer systems upon which human life and security depend—and explores the involvement of powerful organizations such as the National Security Agency. He concludes that in mechanizing proof, and in pursuing dependable computer systems, we do not obviate the need for trust in our collective human judgment.

    • Hardcover $52.00
    • Paperback $35.00
  • Knowing Machines

    Knowing Machines

    Essays on Technical Change

    Donald MacKenzie

    Ranging from broad inquiries into the roles of economics and sociology in the explanation of technological change to an argument for the possibility of "uninventing" nuclear weapons, this selection of Donald MacKenzie's essays provides a solid introduction to the style and the substance of the sociology of technology.

    The essays are tied together by their explorations of connections (primarily among technology, society, and knowledge) and by their general focus on modern "high" technology. They also share an emphasis on the complexity of technological formation and fixation and on the role of belief (especially self-validating belief) in technological change.

    Two of the articles won major prizes on their original journal publication, and all but one date from 1991 or later. A substantial new introduction outlines the common themes underlying this body of work and places it in the context of recent debates in technology studies. Two conceptual essays are followed by seven empirical essays focusing on the laser gyroscopes that are central to modern aircraft navigation technology, supercomputers (with a particular emphasis on their use in the design of nuclear weapons), the application of mathematical proof in the design of computer systems, computer-related accidental deaths, and the nature of the knowledge that is needed to design a nuclear bomb.

    • Hardcover $75.00
    • Paperback $7.75
  • Inventing Accuracy

    Inventing Accuracy

    A Historical Sociology of Nuclear Missile Guidance

    Donald MacKenzie

    "Mackenzie has achieved a masterful synthesis of engrossing narrative, imaginative concepts, historical perspective, and social concern."

    Donald MacKenzie follows one line of technology—strategic ballistic missile guidance through a succession of weapons systems to reveal the workings of a world that is neither awesome nor unstoppable. He uncovers the parameters, the pressures, and the politics that make up the complex social construction of an equally complex technology.

    • Hardcover $37.50
    • Paperback $50.00

Contributor

  • Representation in Scientific Practice Revisited

    Representation in Scientific Practice Revisited

    Catelijne Coopmans, Janet Vertesi, Michael E. Lynch, and Steve Woolgar

    A fresh approach to visualization practices in the sciences that considers novel forms of imaging technology and draws on recent theoretical perspectives on representation.

    Representation in Scientific Practice, published by the MIT Press in 1990, helped coalesce a long-standing interest in scientific visualization among historians, philosophers, and sociologists of science and remains a touchstone for current investigations in science and technology studies. This volume revisits the topic, taking into account both the changing conceptual landscape of STS and the emergence of new imaging technologies in scientific practice. It offers cutting-edge research on a broad array of fields that study information as well as short reflections on the evolution of the field by leading scholars, including some of the contributors to the 1990 volume.

    The essays consider the ways in which viewing experiences are crafted in the digital era; the embodied nature of work with digital technologies; the constitutive role of materials and technologies—from chalkboards to brain scans—in the production of new scientific knowledge; the metaphors and images mobilized by communities of practice; and the status and significance of scientific imagery in professional and popular culture.

    Contributors Morana Alač, Michael Barany, Anne Beaulieu, Annamaria Carusi, Catelijne Coopmans, Lorraine Daston, Sarah de Rijcke, Joseph Dumit, Emma Frow, Yann Giraud, Aud Sissel Hoel, Martin Kemp, Bruno Latour, John Law, Michael Lynch, Donald MacKenzie, Cyrus Mody, Natasha Myers, Rachel Prentice, Arie Rip, Martin Ruivenkamp, Lucy Suchman, Janet Vertesi, Steve Woolgar

  • Living in a Material World

    Living in a Material World

    Economic Sociology Meets Science and Technology Studies

    Trevor Pinch and Richard Swedberg

    Understanding the intersection of economic sociology and science and technology studies through the idea of materiality.

    Although social scientists generally agree that technology plays a key role in the economy, economics and technology have yet to be brought together into a coherent framework that is both analytically interesting and empirically oriented. This book draws on the tools of science and technology studies and economic sociology to reconceptualize the intersection of economy and technology, suggesting materiality—the idea that social existence involves not only actors and social relations but also objects—as the theoretical point of convergence. The contributors take up general concerns, such as individual agency in a network economy and the materiality of the household in economic history, as well as specific financial technologies such as the stock ticker, the trading room, and the telephone. Forms of infrastructure—accounting, global configurations of trading and information technologies, and patent law—are examined. Case studies of the impact of the Internet and information technology on consumption (e-commerce), the reputation economy (the rise of online reviews of products), and organizational settings (outsourcing of an IT system) round off this collection of essays.

    Contributors Elizabeth Popp Berman, Daniel Beunza, Michel Callon, Karin Knorr Cetina, Shay David, Thomas F. Gieryn, Barbara Grimpe, David Hatherly, David Leung, Christian Licoppe, Donald MacKenzie, Philip Mirowski, Fabian Muniesa, Edward Nik-Khah, Trevor Pinch, Alex Preda, Nicholas J. Rowland, David Stark, Richard Swedberg

    • Hardcover $16.75
    • Paperback $35.00
  • Systems, Experts, and Computers

    Systems, Experts, and Computers

    The Systems Approach in Management and Engineering, World War II and After

    Agatha C. Hughes and Thomas Parke Hughes

    This groundbreaking book charts the origins and spread of the systems movement.

    After World War II, a systems approach to solving complex problems and managing complex systems came into vogue among engineers, scientists, and managers, fostered in part by the diffusion of digital computing power. Enthusiasm for the approach peaked during the Johnson administration, when it was applied to everything from military command and control systems to poverty in American cities. Although its failure in the social sphere, coupled with increasing skepticism about the role of technology and "experts" in American society, led to a retrenchment, systems methods are still part of modern managerial practice.

    This groundbreaking book charts the origins and spread of the systems movement. It describes the major players including RAND, MITRE, Ramo-Wooldrige (later TRW), and the International Institute of Applied Systems Analysis—and examines applications in a wide variety of military, government, civil, and engineering settings. The book is international in scope, describing the spread of systems thinking in France and Sweden. The story it tells helps to explain engineering thought and managerial practice during the last sixty years.

    • Hardcover $14.75
    • Paperback $35.00