The Mangle in Practice: Science, Society, and Becoming (Science and Cultural Theory)

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In The Mangle of Practice (1995), the renowned sociologist of science Andrew Pickering argued for a reconceptualization of research practice as a “mangle,” an open-ended, evolutionary, and performative interplay of human and non-human agency. While Pickering’s ideas originated in science and technology studies, this collection aims to extend the mangle’s reach by exploring its application across a wide range of fields including history, philosophy, sociology, geography, environmental studies, literary theory, biophysics, and software engineering.

The Mangle in Practice opens with a fresh introduction to the mangle by Pickering. Several contributors then present empirical studies that demonstrate the mangle’s applicability to topics as diverse as pig farming, Chinese medicine, economic theory, and domestic-violence policing. Other contributors offer examples of the mangle in action: real-world practices that implement a self-consciously “mangle-ish” stance in environmental management and software development. Further essays discuss the mangle as philosophy and social theory. As Pickering argues in the preface, the mangle points to a shift in interpretive sensibilities that makes visible a world of de-centered becoming. This volume demonstrates the viability, coherence, and promise of such a shift, not only in science and technology studies, but in the social sciences and humanities more generally.

Contributors: Lisa Asplen, Dawn Coppin, Adrian Franklin, Keith Guzik, Casper Bruun Jensen,Yiannis Koutalos, Brian Marick, Randi Markussen, Andrew Pickering, Volker Scheid, Esther-Mirjam Sent, Carol Steiner, Maxim Waldstein

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Review:

“Andrew Pickering is a major figure in the field of science studies. In the original, widely cited and widely admired but still controversial The Mangle of Practice, he developed a number of important concepts that are strongly resonant for many members of the current generation of scholars, researchers, and theorists in the social sciences and humanities. This new, very substantial, highly readable collection will be illuminating for readers interested in science studies, post-humanist approaches to ethical-pragmatic issues, and/or new directions in ontology.”—Barbara Herrnstein Smith, author of Scandalous Knowledge: Science, Truth, and the Human

“Andrew Pickering’s ‘mangle of practice’ is one of the key contemporary interpretive frameworks that question the society/nature dichotomy. His proposal makes distinct contributions not only to science studies but to all disciplines engaged in post-humanist projects of knowledge production and committed to bypassing the sterile dichotomy between rationality and relativism. Applying Pickering’s mangle to problems ranging from natural resource management to the dynamics of police work, this timely collection demonstrates the power and flexibility of Pickering’s proposal.”—Mario Biagioli, author of Galileo’s Instruments of Credit: Telescopes, Images, Secrecy

“This excellent collection offers cutting-edge theorizations of cultural practice, showing how science and society work with and against each other across a broad cultural landscape. It is especially welcome that the essays explore, often profoundly, a number of phenomena—practices—which have rarely if ever been addressed previously, but which are shown here to possess unexpected complexity and significance.”—Arkady Plotnitsky, author of Complementarity: Anti-Epistemology after Bohr and Derrida

From the Author:

Andrew Pickering is a professor in the Department of Sociology and Philosophy at the University of Exeter. He is the author of The Mangle of Practice: Time, Agency, and Science and Constructing Quarks: A Sociological History of Particle Physics and the editor of Science as Practice and Culture.

Keith Guzik is Assistant Professor of Sociology at Bloomfield College in Bloomfield, New Jersey.

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