chapter  5
13 Pages

Language and science in science and technology studies

WithSheila Jasanoff

Scholars in science and technology studies (STS) have established that science is best understood as a body of representations of nature, or as mediated renditions of ‘reality’. Among the instruments of mediation, one of the most powerful is language. Scientists use language to talk to one another, to name the products of their observations, and to communicate the results of their work. Language translates what one pair of eyes has seen to allow others to share in the act of discovery. Language also draws boundaries, stakes out claims, and creates alliances and divisions among those who can and cannot speak the words associated with particular ways of knowing. Finally, language provides a bridge between science, the media, the legal system, and political discourse. This chapter reviews STS work on the constitutive, translational, and persuasive uses of language to build science’s cultural authority and political power.