Laboratory Studies And Constructionism

What is a laboratory?

• Local community with its own culture
• Place where relations between human actors and nature are re-ordered
(nature is simplified/altered to make problems "doable"; people are trained to fit prescribed roles)
• Provides both opportunities and constraints
• Methods


• Ethnography
• Discourse analysis
• Artifact / tool anaysis

Research sites

• Labs
• Field
• Other? Funding institutions, etc.

Constructionism vs. relativism

• Not the same thing!
Principle of symmetry
Interpretive flexibility / underdetermination by data
Problem choice

Constructionism: how does it work in practice? What are the elements?

XKCD Comic on the status / hierarchy / purity of fields:

Material aspects of construction

Relevance to discussion of Kohler



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