Give me a laboratory and I will move the world

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In K. Knorr et M. Mulkay (editors) Science Observed, Sage, 1983, pp.141-170 [New edition slighly abridged in Mario Biagioli (editor) Science Studies Reader, London Routledge, 1999]


Now that field studies of laboratory practices are starting to pour in, we are beginning to have a better picture of what scientists do inside the walls of these strange places called 'laboratories' (Knorr-Cetina, this volume). But a new problem has emercged. If we are not able to follow up our participant-observation studies far enough to take in questions outside the laboratory, we are at great risk of falling back into the socalled 'internalist' vision of science. From the very beginnings of these microstudies, this criticism was levelled at us by scholars preoccupied by lalger problems such as science policy, history of science, or more broadly, what is known as Science, Technology and Society (STS). For such topics, laboratory studies seemed utterly irrelevant. At the time, our critics were largely wrong because we first of all had to penetrate these black boxes, and to get firsthand observations of the daily activity of scientists. This was the foremost priority. The result, to summarize it in one sentence, was that nothing extraordinary and nothing 'scientific' was happening inside the sacred walls of these temples (Knorr, 1981). After a few years of studies, however, our critics would be right in raising again the naive but nagging question: if nothing scientific is happening in laboratories, why are there laboratories to begin with?


1995: Espagnol / Spanish
« Sociologicia de la ciencia y la tecnologia » in Consejos supriror de investigatiotens cientificas, 1995, Madrid, pp.237 259

200-: Coréen / Corean
in Science, Philosophy, and Culture

2002: Russe / Russian
« Дайте мне лабораторию, и я переверну мир » in Logos (Логос) No.5-6/2002, pp. 211-242

2004: Chinois / Chinese
« Geiwo Yige Shiyanshi Wo Jiang Juqi Quanshijie », translated by Zongde LIN and edited by Sean Hsiang-lin LEI, in Keji Kewang Shehui (Social Aspirations of Technoscience: Taiwanese Reader of STS Translation 1 ) Edited by Chia-ling WU, Daiwie FU, and Sean Hsiang-lin LEI (Taipei: Socio Publishing, 2004), pp. 219-64

2006: Allemand / German
In Andréa Belliger & David J. Krieger ANThology - Ein Einführendes Handbuch zur Akteur-Netzwerk-Theorie, Bielefeld, Transcript Verlag, 2006 pp.103-134

2009: Polonais / Polish
« Dajcie mi laboratorium a poruszę świat» translated by Krzysztof Abriszewski and Lukasz Afeltowicz, in Teksty Drugie , no.1/2 (115), 2009, p. 163-192