Michel Callon

Michel Callon, developer (with Bruno Latour and others) of Actor Network Theory, is Professor at the École des mines de Paris and a Researcher at the Centre de Sociologie de l'innovation there.

  • Acting in an Uncertain World

    Acting in an Uncertain World

    An Essay on Technical Democracy

    Michel Callon, Pierre Lascoumes, and Yannick Barthe

    A call for a new form of democracy in which “hybrid forums” composed of experts and laypeople address such sociotechnical controversies as hazardous waste, genetically modified organisms, and nanotechnology.

    Controversies over such issues as nuclear waste, genetically modified organisms, asbestos, tobacco, gene therapy, avian flu, and cell phone towers arise almost daily as rapid scientific and technological advances create uncertainty and bring about unforeseen concerns. The authors of Acting in an Uncertain World argue that political institutions must be expanded and improved to manage these controversies, to transform them into productive conversations, and to bring about “technical democracy.” They show how “hybrid forums”—in which experts, non-experts, ordinary citizens, and politicians come together—reveal the limits of traditional delegative democracies, in which decisions are made by quasi-professional politicians and techno-scientific information is the domain of specialists in laboratories. The division between professionals and laypeople, the authors claim, is simply outmoded. The authors argue that laboratory research should be complemented by everyday experimentation pursued in the real world, and they describe various modes of cooperation between the two. They explore a range of concrete examples of hybrid forums that have dealt with sociotechnical controversies including nuclear waste disposal in France, industrial waste and birth defects in Japan, a childhood leukemia cluster in Woburn, Massachusetts, and mad cow disease in the United Kingdom. The authors discuss the implications for political decision making in general and describe a “dialogic” democracy that enriches traditional representative democracy. To invent new procedures for consultation and representation, they suggest, is to contribute to an endless process that is necessary for the ongoing democratization of democracy.

    • Hardcover $8.75 £7.95
    • Paperback $25.00 £20.00

Contributor

  • Between Reason and Experience

    Between Reason and Experience

    Essays in Technology and Modernity

    Andrew Feenberg

    A leading philosopher of technology calls for the democratic coordination of technical rationality with everyday experience.

    The technologies, markets, and administrations of today's knowledge society are in crisis. We face recurring disasters in every domain: climate change, energy shortages, economic meltdown. The system is broken, despite everything the technocrats claim to know about science, technology, and economics. These problems are exacerbated by the fact that today powerful technologies have unforeseen effects that disrupt everyday life; the new masters of technology are not restrained by the lessons of experience, and accelerate change to the point where society is in constant turmoil. In Between Reason and Experience, leading philosopher of technology Andrew Feenberg makes a case for the interdependence of reason—scientific knowledge, technical rationality—and experience. Feenberg examines different aspects of the tangled relationship between technology and society from the perspective of critical theory of technology, an approach he has pioneered over the past twenty years. Feenberg points to two examples of democratic interventions into technology: the Internet (in which user initiative has influenced design) and the environmental movement (in which science coordinates with protest and policy). He examines methodological applications of critical theory of technology to the case of the French Minitel computing network and to the relationship between national culture and technology in Japan. Finally, Feenberg considers the philosophies of technology of Heidegger, Habermas, Latour, and Marcuse. The gradual extension of democracy into the technical sphere, Feenberg argues, is one of the great political transformations of our time.

    • Paperback $30.00 £24.00
  • The Radiance of France, New Edition

    The Radiance of France, New Edition

    Nuclear Power and National Identity after World War II

    Gabrielle Hecht

    How it happened that technological prowess and national glory (or “radiance,” which also means “radiation” in French) became synonymous in France as nowhere else.

    In the aftermath of World War II, as France sought a distinctive role for itself in the modern, postcolonial world, the nation and its leaders enthusiastically embraced large technological projects in general and nuclear power in particular. The Radiance of France asks how it happened that technological prowess and national glory (or “radiance,” which also means “radiation” in French) became synonymous in France as nowhere else.

    To answer this question, Gabrielle Hecht has forged an innovative combination of technology studies and cultural and political history in a book that, as Michel Callon writes in the new foreword to this edition, “not only sheds new light on the role of technology in the construction of national identities” but is also “a seminal contribution to the history of contemporary France.” Proposing the concept of technopolitical regime as a way to analyze the social, political, cultural, and technological dynamics among engineering elites, unionized workers, and rural communities, Hecht shows how the history of France's first generation of nuclear reactors is also a history of the multiple meanings of nationalism, from the postwar period (and France's desire for post-Vichy redemption) to 1969 and the adoption of a “Frenchified” American design.

    This paperback edition of Hecht's groundbreaking book includes both Callon's foreword and an afterword by the author in which she brings the story up to date, and reflects on such recent developments as the 2007 French presidential election, the promotion of nuclear power as the solution to climate change, and France's aggressive exporting of nuclear technology.

    • Paperback $34.50 £27.00
  • 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 £13.99
    • Paperback $19.75 £14.99
  • The Social Construction of Technological Systems

    The Social Construction of Technological Systems

    New Directions in the Sociology and History of Technology

    Wiebe E. Bijker, Thomas Parke Hughes, and Trevor Pinch

    The 13 essays in this book draw on a wide array of case studies from cooking stoves to missile systems, from 15th­century Portugal to today's AI labs - to outline an original research program based on a synthesis of ideas from the social studies of science and the history of technology.

    The impact of technology on society is clear and unmistakable. The influence of society on technology is more subtle. The 13 essays in this book draw on a wide array of case studies from cooking stoves to missile systems, from 15th­century Portugal to today's AI labs - to outline an original research program based on a synthesis of ideas from the social studies of science and the history of technology. Together they affirm the need for a study of technology that gives equal weight to technical, social, economic, and political questions.

    • Hardcover $42.50
    • Paperback $40.00 £27.95