The Materials of STS

John Law

in The Oxford Handbook of Material Culture Studies

Published in print September 2010 | ISBN: 9780199218714
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Archaeology

 The Materials of STS

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  • History and Theory of Archaeology


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Matter matters — this is the issue which is explored in this article. How science, technology, and society (STS) imagines that matter matters. In STS, materiality is usually understood as relational effect. Something becomes material because it makes a difference, because somehow or other it is detectable. It depends, then, on a relation between that which is detected and that which does the detecting. Matter that does not make a difference does not matter. It is not matter since there is no relation. No relation of difference and detection. No relation at all. This article further explains the functioning of the STS through various case studies. Some of these describe the social shaping of technologies. This article says that materials — technologies — are moulded by the intersection of natural and social factors. A detailed analysis of ontological politics and differences and its influence on materialization winds up this article.

Keywords: matter; materiality; science; technology; society

Article.  7169 words. 

Subjects: Archaeology ; History and Theory of Archaeology

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