The Mangle of Practice: Time, Agency, and Science
This ambitious book by one of the most original and provocative thinkers in science studies offers a sophisticated new understanding of the nature of scientific, mathematical, and engineering practice and the production of scientific knowledge.
Andrew Pickering offers a new approach to the unpredictable nature of change in science, taking into account the extraordinary number of factors—social, technological, conceptual, and natural—that interact to affect the creation of scientific knowledge. In his view, machines, instruments, facts, theories, conceptual and mathematical structures, disciplined practices, and human beings are in constantly shifting relationships with one another—"mangled" together in unforeseeable ways that are shaped by the contingencies of culture, time, and place.
Situating material as well as human agency in their larger cultural context, Pickering uses case studies to show how this picture of the open, changeable nature of science advances a richer understanding of scientific work both past and present. Pickering examines in detail the building of the bubble chamber in particle physics, the search for the quark, the construction of the quarternion system in mathematics, and the introduction of computer-controlled machine tools in industry. He uses these examples to address the most basic elements of scientific practice—the development of experimental apparatus, the production of facts, the development of theory, and the interrelation of machines and social organization.
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actor-network actor-network theory actors Alvarez analysis of practice apparatus argue argument Barbara Herrnstein Smith big science Bloor bubble chamber capture chapter cloud chamber conceptual practice constraint construction cultural elements cultural extension cultural studies dialectic of resistance disciplinary agency disciplines discussion essay example exemplified experiment Galison Gallinaro geometrical representation Glaser goals Hamilton's heterogeneous historiography historiography of science human agency human and material idea incommensurability interactive stabilization interest interpretive account Latour line segments machines mangle material agency mathematics metaphysics modelling Morpurgo move multiplication nonemergent nonhuman agency numbers objectivity particles particular performative idiom philosophy of science physics Pickering posthumanism posthumanist production quarks quaternions realism relation representational chains representational idiom resistance and accommodation rules S-matrix science studies scientific culture scientific knowledge scientific practice scientists semiotic sense Sibum social specific studies of science temporally emergent theory tion traditional transformation triplet understanding xenon