The Sociotechnical Organization of Robotic Spacecraft Systems
"Solutions to the problem of knowledge are solutions to the problem of social order," claim Steve Shapin and Simon Schaffer in their seminal work, Leviathan and the Air Pump (Chicago, 1985) But how do different social orders affect different kinds of scientific practices in the production of scientific knowledge? And how do those scientific practices in turn reflect and construct those local social orders through scientific action and interaction? Employing ethnography and microsociological approaches, I describe a comparative study of two interplanetary spacecraft missions to better elucidate the relationship between sociotechnical organization and the conduct of planetary science.
Janet Vertesi is a Cotsen Postdoctoral Fellow at the Society of Fellows in the Liberal Arts and a Lecturer in Sociology at Princeton University. She holds a PhD in Science & Technology Studies from Cornell University, an MPhil from Cambridge University in History and Philosophy of Science, and recently served as a postdoc at the Informatics department, University of California, Irvine. Her current research examines a) the relationship between sociotechnical infrastructure and the conduct of science and b) representation and digital image craft in scientific practice. Vertesi has also published on a broad range of topics from Human-Computer Interaction to urban studies to seventeenth century astronomy.