170: Rhetoric of Social Science
Instructor(s) Helene Mialet
In the expression “social science”, there is the word social and the word science. But what do we know about the social? And what do we know about science? These are the questions we are going to explore in this class. We will focus on the work of eminent sociologists and anthropologists who belong to the field of Science and Technology Studies. We will investigate how these scholars have transformed our understanding of the role, the functioning and the nature of science, and how, in the process, they have also changed our understanding of society. Indeed, what happens to the natural sciences when social scientists start to study them? And, conversely, what happens to the social sciences when the natural sciences that they are trying to emulate are transformed by them? Through what complicated devices are we able to see and visualize “nature”? And, though what complicated devices are we able to see and visualize “society”? Is the divide between science and society still tenable? What is the difference between “micro” and “macro” studies of the social? Do we need to invent new methodologies to grasp society? Who is the social scientist, the analyst or the actor? These are some of the questions that we will ask, and try to answer, over the course of the semester.