ASA Sessions


Science and the State
Organizer/Presider: Alondra Nelson
Discussant: Fred Block
Drawing from her recent book, Freedom’s Laboratory: The Cold War Struggle for the Soul of Science (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2018), Audra Wolfe took up the history behind why so many American scientists insist that science is apolitical. Anne Pollock discussed pharmaceutical knowledge making in the context of post-apartheid South Africa, foregrounding the importance of both place and politics for drug discovery (see Synthesizing Hope Matter, Knowledge, and Place in South African Drug Discovery, The University of Chicago Press, 2019). Addressing the intersection of politics and epistemology, Paolo Parra Saiaani traced how randomized trials came to be considered the gold standard of evidence among policymakers.

science and the state
From Left: Fred Block, Paolo Parra Saiaani, Audra Wolfe, Alondra Nelson, Anne Pollock

Designing for Social Justice? The Politics of Technology
Presider: Julia B. Ticona
Langdon Winters’ now famous question, ‘do artifacts have politics’ brought forth a case of designing for injustice. Here, four presenters explored efforts to design in the opposite direction – to design for justice. Benjamin Snyder examined the use of militarized surveillance technology taken up by Baltimore citizens to monitor police action.  Alexandra Chase Gervis explored the promise and pitfalls that unfold as labor leaders and tech leaders become unexpected bedfellows, asking whether a mobile app make benefits like healthcare coverage possible for workers who are informally employed.  Arguing that data decisions in healthcare are too important to be left to data experts alone, Taylor Cruz examined the technopolitics tied up in a data analytics program deployed to reduce diabetes disparities.  And Arafaat A. Valiani (with co-author Patrick Jones) linked both hope and disappointment to the use of electronic voting machines in postcolonial India.

From Left: Arafaat Valiani, Julia B. Ticona, Taylor Cruz, Alexandra Chase Gervis, Benjamin H. Snyder

Genetics, Identity and Other Controversies
Presider: Aaron Panofsky
Focusing on Autism science, Claire Laurier Decoteau traced the way that controversies have been smoothed in this field over time as dominant perspectives have subtly absorbed or “subsume” the outliers.  Santiago Molina argued a surprisingly uncontroversial path led to the very controversial deployment of CRISPR to genetically modify two twins in China. Torsten Voight examined how neuroscientists domesticate controversies viewing their field as an “integration project”, while David Peterson explored the building crisis as “replication activists” re-make meta-science. Finally, Wendy Roth explored whether genetic ancestry test results have the power to disrupt users’ social networks.


Digital Inequality
nvited Session
Presider: Jenny Reardon, UC Santa Cruz

  • No Platform! How White Supremacist Movements are Challenging Platform Companies’ Ethics
    Joan Donovan, Data & Society and Peter Martin Krafft, UC Berkeley
  • Haunted Algorithms: On the Racializing Assemblages of Algorithmic Governance
    Ezekiel J. Dixon-Román, University of Pennsylvania
  • Logics of Social and System Identities
    A. Aneesh, University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee
  • Exploring Racism in Virtual Reality
    Courtney D. Cogburn, Columbia University

Discussant: Jenny Reardon, UC Santa Cruz

Science and Politics from Obama to Trump
Invited Session
Presider: Alondra Nelson, Columbia University and SSRC

  • Public Trust and the Politics of Knowledge in the “Post-Truth” Era
    Shobita Parthasarathy, Ford School of Public Policy, University of Michigan 
  • The Use and Misuse of Science in Decision Making
    Michael Halpern, Union of Concerned Scientists
  • Scientists in the American Resistance
    Dana R. Fisher, University of Maryland
  • Keeping Science, Policy, and the Public Connected in Troubling Times
    Kei Koizumi, Senior Advisor for Science Policy, AAAS

Discussant: Alondra Nelson, Columbia University and SSRC

Artificial Feelings: The Politics and Perceptions of AI

This panel will examine the sociological implications of artificial intelligence, including both culture and politics. How do AI agents impact the apprehension and performance of emotion? What social benefits might AI augur and what new norms or regulations may be needed to shape a beneficial future? What challenges does the expansion of AI pose to civil rights and social justice? Papers are invited that draw on insights, theories and frameworks from the sociology of science, knowledge, and technology to explore the impact of AI and related technologies in the US and abroad.

Energy Politics, Technology, and Just Transitions

This panel investigates how the problem of developing just transitions
for our energy systems require the ongoing expansion of theories of
science, technology, and knowledge to include the analysis of emotions,
structural inequalities, including the mobilization of low-income groups,
racial and ethnicity minority groups, and labor. We invite case studies of
political contestation over energy transitions to examine how prominent
theoretical frameworks for the analysis of expertise and technology
(e.g., actor-oriented approaches, the analysis of discourse and meanings, and the transitions of technological systems) are modified by researchers working in the context of energy justice and democracy.

Section on Science, Knowledge, and Technology Refereed Roundtables

Organizer: Melanie Jeske


Open Session: “Encoding Inclusion, Decoding Inequality”

Organizer: Alondra Nelson (Columbia University)

This session highlights sociological approaches to algorithmic culture and big data. How do new technologies exacerbate or ameliorate forms of social exclusion? Can big data and machine learning eliminate racial bias and discrimination or will they intensify disparities? Paper topics might include hashtag activism, genomics and personalized medicine, the internet of things, facial recognition software, predictive policing, sousveillance and surveillance.

Open Session: “Race and Ethnicity in Global and Postcolonial Science”

Organizer: Anthony Hatch (Wesleyan University)

Race and ethnicity are global social structures that have unique configurations within national contexts and broad implications for science within and across national borders. This open session calls for papers that examine how race and ethnicity impact the postcolonial contexts and/or global flows of scientific institutions and cultures, scientific practices and expertise, and scientists and research subjects.

Open Session: “Scientific Careers: Key Dimensions of Social Inequality”

Co-organizers: Mary Frank Fox (Georgia Institute of Technology), Kjersten Bunker Whittington (Reed College)

Social inequality is a central feature of scientific careers. In this session, we identify and explain key dimensions of inequality: includingg those of gender, race, sexual identities, national origins, and institutional locations. In doing this, we propose ways and means that equity can be improved through practices and policies within organizations, as well as in national science policies, that shape the ways that scientific careers occur.

Open Session: “Technology, Politics, and Socio-Environmental Solutions” co-sponsored by E&T and SKAT

Co-Organizers: Scott Frickel (Brown University) and Tammy Lewis (Brooklyn College-CUNY)

This joint panel highlights how knowledge politics in science and technology condition societal efforts to address major environmental and ecological challenges. Broadly, we seek papers that critically engage scientific, social scientific, and technological efforts to understand and address (or “fix”) major socio-environmental challenges, from climate change to global toxics to widespread environmental inequalities and injustice. What role can environmental sociologists and sociologists of science and technology play in enhancing the social robustness of environmental solutions?


Open Session: “Topics in Sociology of Science, Knowledge and Technology”

Description: This session invites papers on any topic related to the sociology of science, knowledge and technology

Session Organizer: Michael Rodríguez-Muñiz,

Invited Session: “Politics and Practices of Digital Knowledge Production”

Description: How do digital systems and practices intersect with, produce, and reproduce particular ways of knowing? This panel addresses contemporary intersections between digital studies and the study of science, knowledge and technology. We ask, whose ways of knowing are built into these systems, with what privilege and scope, and which ways are left out? How do the practices of digital knowledge production encode or enact systematic distinctions, categorizations, hierarchies and inequalities? Examining computational systems and artifacts from databases to algorithms, from labor politics to expertise, we return to the core questions of the field to discuss what it means for our research, our theories, and our methods when the sociology of science, knowledge and technology goes digital.

Session Organizer: Janet Vertesi,

Open Session: “Science at the Margins”

Description: Margins take many meanings in contemporary society, but most of these signify relationships of inequality between centers and edges or peripheries. Such relationships help describe geographical, social, and intellectual spaces as well as account for the social and symbolic power of those things, people, and processes that occupy marginal positions. We invite submissions that reflect on the theoretical and empirical significance of “the margins” and marginality in the practice and organization of science and technology.

Session Organizer: Logan Williams,

Open Session: “What Would Bourdieu Do? New Approaches to Field Studies in Science, Knowledge and Technology”

Description: Fields and field theory are gaining renewed attention in various areas of sociology, including STS. This panel highlights recent applications of field theory to science studies and theoretical work on the dynamics of scientific and technological fields, broadly construed. All methodological approaches are welcome, including quantitative studies of networks, public opinion surveys, bibliometrics, and organizational analysis.

Session Organizer: Gordon Gauchat,

Open Session: “Bodies and Sexualities in Science and Technology Studies” (co-sponsored with the Section on Bodies and Embodiment)

Description: We invite submissions that examine how science and technology are central to the everyday expressions of embodied practices. How has scientific research shaped social understandings of embodied experiences? How have technologies (medical, communication, surveillance, “camouflaged”) been used to organize, facilitate, enhance, track, or prevent bodily practices? Overall, what does the study of science and technology bring to the study of bodies?

Session Co-Organizer (SKAT): Katie Hasson,

Invited Thematic Session: “Science, Movements and Social Inequality”

Description: In contemporary society political conflict increasingly centers on claims of scientific fact or uncertainty and these “knowledge politics” often have visible, broad and contradictory consequences for social inequality and social change more generally. This thematic session will consider the ways in which politicizations of scientific knowledge inside and outside the academy specifically shape efforts by social movements to confront and reduce social inequality. Invited panelists will consider power relations within and across the science/society divide as they influence the organization of social protest and resistance and alter distributions of social advantage and disadvantage in four socially consequential domains: environmental justice, gender and sexualities, biology and race, and genetics and disease. To date, scholars have paid insufficient attention to theorizing and studying the relationship between science, movements, and social inequality. Presentations on this panel will move those interconnections into the foreground.

Organizer: Scott Frickel,
Moderator: Steven Epstein
Panelists: Ruha Benjamin, Catherine Bliss, Phil Brown, Tom Waidzunas

Section on Science, Knowledge and Technology Refereed Roundtables (one-hour)

Organizer: Alondra Nelson, Columbia University


Open Session One: “Topics in Science, Knowledge, and Technology Studies”

Description: All submissions that advance sociological approaches to the study of science, knowledge, and/or technology are welcome, regardless of empirical focus.

Session Organizer and Presider: Jill Fisher


Risky Science?: Assessing and Negotiating Risks in University Bioscience – Dilshani Sarathchandra, University of Idaho

Psychiatry’s Little Other: DSM-5 and Debates over Psychiatric Science – Claire Laurier Decoteau & Paige Lenore Sweet, University of Illinois, Chicago

New Ways to Die in the Age of Biomedicalization: Changes in Cause of Death Classification Rules – Bryce J. Bartlett, Duke University

Too much of a good thing?: American midwives and the positive side of strategic ignorance – Kellie Owens, Northwestern University

Citizens, Experts, Politics, and Policy: Exploring Goals and Motivations of Volunteer Water Quality Monitors – Jaime McCauley, Northern Kentucky University

Open Session Two: “Bodies & Sexualities in Science & Technology Studies (co-sponsored by the Section on Sociology of the Body and Embodiment)”

Description: We invite submissions that examine how science and technology are central to the everyday expression of sexuality as embodied practice. How has scientific research shaped social understandings and embodied experiences of sexualities? How have technologies (medical, communication, surveillance, “camouflaged”) been used to organize, facilitate, enhance, track, or prevent sexual practices? Overall, what does the study of science and technology bring to the study of bodies and sexualities?

Session Organizers: Katie Hasson ( and Elise Paradis (
Presider: Elise Paradis


White, Shelley K., “Regulatory Scripting: Embodied, Scientific, and Medical Knowledges on Vaginal Mesh”

Sigurdson, Krista Mary Smith, “Safety and Scarcity in the Production and Distribution of Banked Donor Milk”

Lappe, Martine Danielle, “The Maternal Body as Environment in Autism Science

Ahlm, Jody, Respectable Promiscuity and Cybercarnality; Or, “Never show your face on pictures with your naughty bits””

Huang, Yu-Ling, “The Making of Bio-political Knowledge: Fertility Studies in Early Cold War Taiwan”

Invited Session: “The Politics of Knowledge: Technoscientific Dimensions of Political Life”

Description: Knowledge, expertise, and technologies are built into the inner workings of modern political processes, including practices of governance and modes of activist resistance. At the same time, scientific and technological developments are often the source and object of heated political controversies. Presentations by invited panelists in this session treat the “politics of knowledge” as a key component of everyday political life.

Organizer: Steven Epstein, Northwestern University,
Presider: Janet Shim, University of California, San Francisco,


Patrick Carroll, “Water, Technoscience, and Regimes of Governance in California” University of California, Davis

Alondra Nelson, “Janus DNA: Race and Reconciliation after the Genome” Columbia University

Kelly Moore, “‘Wellness’ and the Embodied Normalization of Neoliberalism” Loyola University Chicago

Judy Wajcman, “Pressed for Time: How Technological Acceleration Came to Signify the Zeitgeist” London School of Economics

Discussant: Scott Frickel, Brown University,

Refereed Roundtables

Session Organizer: Catherine Bliss


Open Session: The Sociology of Big Data: Knowledge, Technology, Security and Privacy
Mon., August 18, 2:30-4:10 pm

Description: Big Data has emerged as a key engine of commerce and state power in the 21st century, even as it has created new vulnerabilities that threaten existing political and social orders. These developments have led to charged public debates over security and privacy and have introduced new ways of knowing social worlds that challenge the social sciences. We invite contributions that examine the science and technology of Big Data or assess its implications for knowledge production and social order.

Session Organizer: Benjamin H. Sims, Los Alamos National Laboratory
Presider: Benjamin H. Sims, Los Alamos National Laboratory


Rock Stars of Big Data? The Standardization of Expertise and Implications for Diversity in Analytics – Margaret Willis, Boston College

Big Data Policing in the Homeland Security Era: ILP and Intelligence Fusion in History and Practice – Brendan Innis McQuade, State University of New York-Binghamton

Constructing the Suspicious: Data Fusion and the Future of Security – Torin Monahan, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill

The Archival to The Database State: India’s Unique Identification Number Project: Inclusive Surveillance and Privacy – Parul Baxi, University of California-Davis

Discussant: James A. Evans, University of Chicago

Open Session: Topics in Science, Knowledge, and Technology Studies
Tue, August 19, 8:30 to 10:10 am

Description: All submissions that advance sociological approaches to the study of science, knowledge, and technology are welcome, regardless of empirical focus.

Session Organizer: James A. Evans, University of Chicago
Presider: Jacob Gates Foster, University of California-Los Angeles


Entrepreneurial Formulas. Business Plans and the Formation of New Ventures – Martin Giraudeau, London School of Economics and Political Science; Liliana Doganova, Mines ParisTech

Looping Genomes: Diagnostic Expansion and the Genetic Makeup of the Autism Population – Daniel Navon, Harvard University; Gil Eyal, Columbia University

Managing Sharing/Secrecy Tensions around Scientific Knowledge Disclosure – Andrew Nelson, University of Oregon

The Impact of Bone Marrow Donor Infrastructure on Sibling Relationships – Lianna Hartmour, University of California-Los Angeles

The Organization of Expert Activism: Shadow Mobilization in Two Social Movements – Scott Frickel, Washington State University; Rebekah Torcasso, Washington State University; Annika Yvette Anderson, Washington State University

Refereed Roundtables
Tue, August 19, 10:30 to 11:30 am

Session Organizer: Scott Frickel, Washington State University

Invited Session. Science and Morality
Tue, August 19, 12:30 to 2:10 pm

Description: Moral and scientific practices are always entwined, and the sociology of science has been at the forefront of analyzing those intersections. This panel engages research that has pushed the field forward by examining: how research sponsors, religious groups, and governments weave moral and scientific issues together; institutional arenas in which these issues are worked out; and the kind of “work” that concepts such as justice, ethics, and morality do for scientists and the sociology of science.

Session Organizers: Sydney A. Halpern, University of Illinois-Chicago; Kelly Moore, Loyola University-Chicago
Presider: Sydney A. Halpern, University of Illinois-Chicago


Experimental Patriots: The Ethics of Drug Testing in American Prisons – Anthony Ryan

Hatch, Georgia State University

Bio-Ethics and Bio-Justice: HPV and the Expanding Field of Cancer Prevention – Laura Mamo, San Francisco State University

A Critique of the Use of New Genomic Data to Reconstitute Biological Race Categories – Joan H. Fujimura, University of Wisconsin-Madison; Ramya Rajagopalan, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Beyond Incommensurability in Sexual Rights Conflict: Scientific, Religious, and Moral Truths of Homosexuality Woven across the United States and Uganda – Tom J. Waidzunas, Temple University

Discussant: Kelly A. Joyce, Drexel University

Invited Session. Valuation Devices: STS Approaches to the Sociology of Worth
Tue, August 19, 2:30 to 4:10 pm

Description: In such politically fraught and technically mediated arenas as health, the environment, education, and finance, we find intensive struggles over the worth of things. Tools such as environmental impact assessment, performance review, and cost-benefit analysis seek to objectively measure values but often become objects of controversy. This panel will explore emerging directions in the social analysis of valuation processes, with an emphasis on the place of knowledge, expertise, and technologies.

Session Organizer: Andrew Lakoff, University of Southern California
Presider: Andrew Lakoff, University of Southern California


Stop it. Why Resisting Rankings has Failed and Why Evaluation Measures can be Hard to Tame – Wendy Nelson Espeland, Northwestern University

The Type and the Grade: Wine Classifications and the Institutional Scaffolding of the Judgment of Taste – Marion Fourcade, University of California-Berkeley; Rebecca Elliott, University of California-Berkeley

Capturing Worlds of Worth: Fiction Reviewing, Management Consulting and Scholarly Evaluation Compared – Michele Lamont, Harvard University; Phillipa K Chong, Harvard University

My Top Ten List of Valuation Devices – David Stark, Columbia University