Skip to main content

UC Berkeley


Science, Technology and Society

Field Description

UC Berkeley offers a rich and diverse set of undergraduate courses across campus to pursue the multiple intersections of science, technology and society (STS). The ISF Research Field in STS is the only place at Berkeley where undergraduates can pursue a research program in this subject.  Students in this field study not only the social preconditions for scientific investigation but also the social consequences of scientific and technological developments and the ways in which these processes are themselves shaped by society. STS is premised on a specific demarcation problem–not the classic demarcation of science from non-science but the difficulty, if not impossibility, of demarcating science and technology as autonomous activities and objects, independent of the society out of which they arise and presumably serve.

Students studying STS will find challenging courses in Anthropology, English, ESPM, ERG, Geography, History, Political Science, Rhetoric and Women’s Studies as well as in many of the Science Departments themselves.  The range of topics covered in STS is capacious and includes: the social history of the scientific revolutions; the contexts of discovery and the rhetorics of justification for scientific developments; the social determinants of technological pathways; the cultural aspects of new probabilistic modes of rationality and explanation; the traffic between political economy and the biological sciences in the long nineteenth century; the uses to which science was put in defense of apartheid and Empire and the naturalization of sexual differences; how and why the social sciences often become mathematized and positivistic in nature; the responsibilities of scientists in the Atomic Age; how the Cold War shaped the development of science and technology; the political and legal dimensions of pharmaceutical and stem cell research; the use and misuse of tests of statistical significance in the study of climate change; the ways in which Big Data change and even create social phenomena; the politics of transition in energy systems; the exploration of what speculative and science fiction says about the hopes and anxieties about bioengineered post-humans and “amortal” cyborgs; and the normative and empirical study of the ways in which science is, or should be, held accountable to democratic procedures.

Library Resources is forthcoming; meanwhile, please contact Lynn Jones at

Recent ISF Senior Theses

  • Computer Use in the Elephant Economy: Attitudes Towards Technology in India’s KPO Sector
  • The Limits of the Pre-Cautionary Principle: Comparing GMO Regulation in Europe and the US
  • Peruvian Eugenics: Sterilizing the Poor
  • The Political Economy of Wind Power in China: Challenges and hopes to transform China’s electricity sector
  • Does the Internet Help Consolidate Democratic Practices? Access to Information and the Creation of Public Spheres?
  • The Google Car in terms of Allenby and Sarewitz’s Techno-Human Condition
  • Regulating the Overuse of Medical Technology: A Comparison of the US and Europe
  • Digital Identity: The Effect of Internet Use on the Development of the Self
  • Overcoming the Inertia of the Status Quo: Barriers to Changing the U.S. Energy System
  • Why Offshore if You Can Just Use a Computer? The Impact of Information Technologies on Offshoring Trends Among American Businesses
  • Framing it Right: How NASA Narratives Changed Public Support for Human Space Exploration
  • Where Does the Future Come From? The Role of Social Media in Opening Paths for Societal Development
  • Can They Protect Me? A Study of U.S. Policy and Law Protecting Individuals from Online Fraud and Identity Theft
  • Politics and Technology: How Social Networking Created A Tipping Point for Obama’s Presidential Campaign
  • Big Data, A Big Problem? A Study of Data Mining and Targeted Advertising in Relation to Privacy and Government Involvement in the United States

Relevant UC Berkeley Courses

  • History 103S: History of Science
  • History 180: History of the Life Sciences
  • History 182A: Technology and Society
  • ESPM 152: Bioethics and Society
  • ESPM 151: Society and Environment
  • Engineering 157AC: Engineering, the Environment and Society
  • Sociology 166: Society and Technology
  • Computer Science 195: Social Implications of Computer Technology
  • African American Studies 134: Information Technology and Society
  • Gender and Women’s Studies 131: Gender and Science
  • English 180Z: Science Fiction: Speculative Fiction and Dystopias
  • English 190: Literature and the Post-Human
  • History of Art C158: Art and Science
  • Bioengineering 100: Ethics in Science and Engineering
  • Anthropology 119.1: Critical Bioethics
  • Energy and Resource Group C184: Energy and Society
  • Rhetoric 107: Rhetoric of Scientific Discourse

Abir-Am, Pnina. 1985. “Themes, Genres and Orders of Legitimation in the Consolidation of New Scientific Disciplines: Deconstructing the Historiography of Molecular Biology.” History of Science 23:73–117. 

Adams, Vincanne. 2002. “Randomized Controlled Crime Postcolonial Sciences in Alternative Medicine Research.” Social Studies of Science 32(5-6):659–90.

Bauchspies, Wenda K., Sal Restivo, and Jennifer Croissant. 2008. Science, Technology, and Society: A Sociological Approach. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell.

Baszanger, Isabelle. 1998. Inventing Pain Medicine: From the Laboratory to the Clinic. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.

Best, Steven and Douglas Kellner. 2001. The Postmodern Adventure: Science, Technology, and Cultural Studies at the Third Millennium. New York: The Guilford Press.

Biagioli, Mario, ed. 1999. The Science Studies Reader. New York: Routledge.

Biagioli, Mario, Roddey Reid, and Sharon Traweek, eds. 1994. “Located Knowledges: Intersections between Cultural, Gender, and Science Studies.” Configurations 2(1). Special Issue.

Bijker, Wiebe E. and John Law, eds. 1994. Shaping Technology / Building Society: Studies in Sociotechnical Change. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.

Bonah, Christian. 2003. “‘Experimental Rage’: The Development of Medical Ethics and the Genesis of Scientific Facts.” Social History of Medicine 15(2):187–207.

Bowker, Geoffrey C. 1994. Science on the Run: Information Management and Industrial Geophysics at Schlumberger, 1920-1940. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Brante, Thomas, Steve Fuller, and William Lynch, eds. 1993. Controversial Science: From Content to Contention. Albany, NY: SUNY Press.

Burke, Peter. 2000. A Social History of Knowledge: From Gutenberg to Diderot. Cambridge, United Kingdom: Polity Press. 

Burke, Peter. 2012. A Social History of Knowledge II: From the Encyclopaedia to Wikipedia. Cambridge, United Kingdom: Polity Press. 

Callon, Michel, John Law, and Arie Rip, eds. 1986. Mapping the Dynamics of Science and Technology. London, England: Palgrave Macmillan.

Clarke, Adele E. 1998. Disciplining Reproduction: Modernity, American Life Sciences, and the Problems of Sex. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.

Clarke, Adela E. and Joan H. Fujimura, eds. 1992. The Right Tools for the Job: At Work in Twentieth-Century Life Sciences. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Collins, H. M. and Robert Evans. 2002. “The Third Wave of Science Studies Studies of Expertise and Experience.” Social Studies of Science 32(2):235–96.

Collins, Harry M. and Trevor Pinch. 2012. The Golem: What You Should Know About Science. 2nd ed. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.

Coopmans, Catelijne, Janet Vertesi, Michael E. Lynch, and Steve Woolgar, eds. 2014. Representation in Scientific Practice Revisited. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.

Cowan, Robin, Paul A. David, and Dominique Foray. 2000. “The Explicit Economics of Knowledge Codification and Tacitness.” Industrial and Corporate Change 9(2):211–53.

Cozzens, Susan E. and Thomas F. Gieryn, eds. 1990. Theories of Science in Society. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press.

Crary, Jonathan. 1992. Techniques of the Observer: On Vision and Modernity in the 19th Century. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Daston, Lorraine and Peter Galison. 1992. “The Image of Objectivity.” Representations (40):81–128.

Downey, Gary Lee and Joseph Dumit, eds. 1998. Cyborgs & Citadels: Anthropological Interventions in Emerging Sciences and Technologies. Santa Fe, NM: School of American Research Press.

Dretske, Fred I. 1999. Knowledge and the Flow of Information. Stanford, CA: Center for the Study of Language and Information.

Duden, Barbara. 1993. Disembodying Women: Perspectives on Pregnancy and the Unborn. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. 

Edwards, Paul N. 1997. The Closed World: Computers and the Politics of Discourse in Cold War America. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.

Edwards, Paul. 2001. “Representing the Global Atmosphere: Computer Models, Data, and Knowledge About Climate Change.” in Changing the Atmosphere: Expert Knowledge and Environmental Governance, edited by Clark Miller and Paul Edwards. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Elston, Mary Ann, ed. 1997. The Sociology of Medical Science and Technology. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell.

Etzkowitz, Henry, Andrew Webster, and Peter Healey, eds. 1998. Capitalizing Knowledge: New Intersections of Industry and Academia. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press.

Everett, Margaret. 2003. “The Social Life of Genes: Privacy, Property and the New Genetics.” Social Science & Medicine(56):53–65.

Feyerabend, Paul. 2010. Against Method. London and New York: Verso.

Fleck, Ludwik. 1981. Genesis and Development of a Scientific Fact. Edited by Thaddeus J. Trenn and Robert K. Merton. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.

Foucault, Michel. 1994. The Order of Things: An Archaeology of the Human Sciences. New York: Vintage.

Foucault, Michel. 1997. “The Birth of Biopolitics.” Pp. 73–80 in Ethics: Subjectivity and Truth, edited by Paul Rabinow. New York: The New Press.

Fujimura, Joan. 1997. Crafting Science: A Sociohistory of the Quest for the Genetics of Cancer. Cambridge, A: Harvard University Press.

Garrety, Karin. 1997. “Social Worlds, Actor-Networks and Controversy: The Case of Cholesterol, Dietary Fat and Heart Disease.” Social Studies of Science 27(5):727–73.

Golinski, Jan. 2005. Making Natural Knowledge: Constructivism and the History of Science. Chicago, IL: University Of Chicago Press.

Gonzalez, Roberto J., Laura Nader, and C. Jay Ou. 1995. “Between Two Poles: Bronislaw Malinowski, Ludwik Fleck, and the Anthropology of Science.” Current Anthropology 36(5):866–69.

Hackett, Edward J., Olga Amsterdamska, Michael E. Lynch, and Judy Wajcman, eds. 2007. The Handbook of Science and Technology Studies. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.

Hacking, Ian. 1998. Rewriting the Soul: Multiple Personality and the Sciences of Memory. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Hacking, Ian. 2006. The Emergence of Probability: A Philosophical Study of Early Ideas about Probability, Induction and Statistical Inference. Cambridge, United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press.

Haraway, Donna J. 1997. Modest_Witness@Second_Millennium.FemaleMan_Meets_OncoMouse: Feminism and Technoscience. New York: Routledge.

Haraway, Donna. 1999. “Situated Knowledge: The Science Question in Feminism and the Privilege of Partial Perspective.” Pp. 172–88 in The Science Studies Reader, edited by Mario Biagioli. New York: Routledge.

Hankins, Thomas L. 1985. Science and the Enlightenment. Cambridge, United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press.

Heller, Michael A. and Rebecca S. Eisenberg. 1998. “Can Patents Deter Innovation? The Anticommons in Biomedical Research.” Science 280(5364):698–701.

Hess, David J. 1997. Science Studies: An Advanced Introduction. New York: NYU Press.

Hess, David. 2001. “Ethnography and the Development of Science and Technology Studies.” Pp. 234–45 in Handbook of Ethnography, edited by Paul Atkinson, Amanda Coffey, Sara Delamont, John Lofland, and Lyn Lofland. London, England: SAGE.

Hesse, Mary B. 1980. Revolutions and Reconstructions in the Philosophy of Science. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

Ilpo, Helén. 2004. “Technics over Life: Risk, Ethics and the Existential Condition in High-Tech Antenatal Care.” Economy and Society (33):28–51.

Jacob, Margaret C. 1999. “Science Studies after Social Construction: The Turn Toward the Comparative and the Global.” Pp. 95–120 in Beyond the Cultural Turn: New Directions in the Study of Society & Culture, edited by Victoria Bonnell and Lynda Hunt. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.

Jarvenpaa, Sirkka L. and Dorothy E. Leidner. 1998. “Communication and Trust in Global Virtual Teams.” Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication 3(4):0–0.

Jasanoff, Sheila. 2000. “Reconstructing the Past, Constructing the Present: Can Science Studies and the History of Science Live Happily Ever After?” Social Studies of Science 30(4):621–31.

Kitcher, Philip. 2003. Science, Truth, and Democracy. New York: Oxford University Press.

Klein, Hans K. and Daniel Lee Kleinman. 2000. “The Social Construction of Technology: Structural Considerations.” Science, Technology, & Human Values 27(1):28–52.

Knorr-Cetina, Karin and Michael Mulkay, eds. 1983. Science Observed: Perspectives on the Social Study of Science. London, England: SAGE Publications.

Knorr-Cetina, Karin. 1995. “Laboratory Studies: The Cultural Approach to the Study of Science.” Pp. 140–66 in The Handbook of Science and Technology Studies, edited by S. Jasanoff, G. Markle, J. Petersen, and T. Pinch. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Knorr-Cetina, Karin. 1999. Epistemic Cultures: How the Sciences Make Knowledge. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Kogut, Bruce and Anca Metiu. 2001. “Open‐Source Software Development and Distributed Innovation.” Oxford Review of Economic Policy 17(2):248–64.

Kuhn, Thomas S. 1962. The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press.

Kuhn, Thomas S. 2000. The Road since Structure: Philosophical Essays, 1970-1993, with an Autobiographical Interview. edited by James Conant and John Haugeland. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.

Latham, Robert, ed. 2003. Bombs and Bandwidth: The Emerging Relationship Between Information Technology and Security. New York: New Press.

Latour, Bruno. 1988. Science in Action: How to Follow Scientists and Engineers Through Society. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Latour, Bruno. 1991. “Technology Is Society Made Durable.” Pp. 103–31 in Sociology of Monsters: Essays on Power, Technology and Domination, edited by John Law. London, England: Routledge.

Latour, Bruno and Steve Woolgar. 1986. Laboratory Life: The Construction of Scientific Facts. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Latour, Bruno. 1993. We Have Never Been Modern. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Law, John, ed. 1991. Sociology of Monsters: Essays on Power, Technology and Domination. London, England: Routledge.

Lock, Margaret. 2002. “Alienation of Body Tissue and the Biopolitics of Immortalized Cell Lines.” Pp. 63–92 in Commodifying Bodies, edited by Nancy Scheper-Hughes and Loic Waquant. London: Sage.

Longino, Helen E. 1990. Science as Social Knowledge. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Lynch, Michael. 1988. “The Externalized Retina: Selection and Mathematization in the Visual Documentation of Objects in the Life Sciences.” Human Studies 11(2-3):201–34.

MacKenzie, Donald and Graham Spinardi. 1995. “Tacit Knowledge, Weapons Design, and the Uninvention of Nuclear Weapons.” American Journal of Sociology 101(1):44–99.

MacKenzie, Donald and Judy Wajcman, eds. 1999. The Social Shaping of Technology. 2nd ed. Buckingham, England: McGraw Hill Education / Open University.

Markley, Robert. 1999. “Foucault, Modernity, and the Cultural Study of Science.” Configurations 7(2):153–73.

Merton, Robert K. 1973. Sociology of Science: Theoretical and Empirical Investigations. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.

Mesthene, Emmanuel G. 1997. “The Role of Technology in Society.” Pp. 71–85 in Technology and Values, edited by Kristin Shrader-Frechette and Laura Westra. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.

Mumford, Lewis. 1964. “Authoritarian and Democratic Technics.” Technology and Culture 5(1):1–8.

Nandy, Ashis, ed. 1990. Science, Hegemony and Violence: A Requiem for Modernity. Delhi: Oxford University Press.

Nelson, Alondra. 2008. “Bio Science Genetic Genealogy Testing and the Pursuit of African Ancestry.” Social Studies of Science38(5):759–83.

Nyhart, Lynn K. and Thomas H. Broman, eds. 2002. Special Issue on Science and Civil Society.” Osiris 17: whole issue.

Oppenheimer, J. Robert. 1950. “Encouragement of Science.” The Science News-Letter 57(11):170–72.

Oudshoorn, Nelly and Trevor Pinch, eds. 2005. How Users Matter: The Co-Construction of Users and Technology. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Pels, Dick. 1996. “Karl Mannheim and the Sociology of Scientific Knowledge: Toward a New Agenda.” Sociological Theory14(1):30–48.

Pickering, Andrew, ed. 1992. Science as Practice and Culture. 1st ed. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.

Poovey, Mary. 1998. A History of the Modern Fact: Problems of Knowledge in the Sciences of Wealth and Society. Chicago, IL: University Of Chicago Press.

Porter, Theodore M. 1986. The Rise of Statistical Thinking, 1820-1900. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Porter, Theodore M. 1995. Trust in Numbers. The Pursuit of Objectivity in Science and Public Life. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Rabinow, Paul. 1999. “Artificiality and Enlightenment: From Sociobiology to Biosociality.” Pp. 407–16 in The Science Studies Reader, edited by Mario Biagioli. New York: Routledge.

Rajan, Kaushik Sunder. 2006. Biocapital: The Constitution of Postgenomic Life. 1st ed. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

Ravetz, Jerome. 1995. Scientific Knowledge and Its Social Problems. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers.

Reid, Roddey and Sharon Traweek, eds. 2000. Doing Science + Culture. New York: Routledge.

Rose, Nikolas. 2006. The Politics of Life Itself: Biomedicine, Power, and Subjectivity in the Twenty-First Century. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Russell, Colin A. 1984. Science and Social Change in Britain and Europe, 1700-1900. New York: St. Martin’s Press.

Shapin, Steven. 1995. A Social History of Truth: Civility and Science in Seventeenth-Century England. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.

Shapin, Steven. 1995. “Here and Everywhere: Sociology of Scientific Knowledge.” Annual Review of Sociology 21:289–321.

Shapin, Steven. 1998. The Scientific Revolution. 1st ed. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.

Shapin, Steven. 1999. “The House of Experiment in Seventeenth Century England.” Pp. 479–504 in The Science Studies Reader, edited by Mario Biagioli. London: Routledge.

Shapin, Steven and Simon Schaffer. 2011. Leviathan and the Air-Pump: Hobbes, Boyle, and the Experimental Life. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Sismondo, Sergio. 1999. “Models, Simulations, and Their Objects.” Science in Context 12(2).

Sismondo, Sergio. 2009. An Introduction to Science and Technology Studies. 2nd ed. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell.

Sivin, Nathan. 1995. “Why the Scientific Revolution did not Take Place in China –Or Didn’t It?” P. Chapter VII in Science in Ancient China: Researches and Reflections. Aldershot, Hants: Variorum.

Star, Susan Leigh, ed. 1995. Ecologies of Knowledge: Work and Politics in Science and Technology. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press.

Stehr, Nico, ed. 2004. Biotechnology: Between Commerce and Civil Society. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers.

Stengers, Isabelle. 1997. Power and Invention: Situating Science. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press.

Stengers, Isabelle. 2000. The Invention of Modern Science. 1st ed. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press.

Sutton, Geoffrey V. 1997. Science for a Polite Society: Gender, Culture, and the Demonstration of Enlightenment. Boulder, CO: Westview Press.

Taylor, Peter J., Saul E. Halfon, and Paul N. Edwards. 1997. Changing Life: Genomes, Ecologies, Bodies, Commodities. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press.

Volti, Rudi. 2009. Society and Technological Change. New York: Worth Publishers.

Wajcman, Judy. 2010. “Feminist Theories of Technology.” Cambridge Journal of Economics 34(1):143–52.

Anderson, Warwick. 2002. “Introduction: Postcolonial Technoscience.” Social Studies of Science 32(5/6):643–58.

Weber, Max. 2009. “Science as a Vocation.” Pp. 129–56 in From Max Weber. Essays in Sociology, edited by H.H. Gerth and C. Wright Mills. London and New York: Routledge.

Winner, Langdon. 1980. “Do Artifacts Have Politics?” Daedalus 109(1):121–36.

Zilsel, Edgar. 2000. “The Sociological Roots of Science.” Social Studies of Science 30(6):935–49.