Aircraft Stories: Decentering the Object in Technoscience
In Aircraft Stories noted sociologist of technoscience John Law tells “stories” about a British attempt to build a military aircraft—the TSR2. The intertwining of these stories demonstrates the ways in which particular technological projects can be understood in a world of complex contexts.
Law works to upset the binary between the modernist concept of knowledge, subjects, and objects as having centered and concrete essences and the postmodernist notion that all is fragmented and centerless. The structure and content of Aircraft Stories reflect Law’s contention that knowledge, subjects, and—particularly— objects are “fractionally coherent”: that is, they are drawn together without necessarily being centered. In studying the process of this particular aircraft’s design, construction, and eventual cancellation, Law develops a range of metaphors to describe both its fractional character and the ways its various aspects interact with each other. Offering numerous insights into the way we theorize the working of systems, he explores the overlaps between singularity and multiplicity and reveals rich new meaning in such concepts as oscillation, interference, fractionality, and rhizomatic networks.
The methodology and insights of Aircraft Stories will be invaluable to students in science and technology studies and will engage others who are interested in the ways that contemporary paradigms have limited our ability to see objects in their true complexity.
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actor-network actor-network theory Aesthetics Air Force Aircraft Corporation 1962 Althusser Annemarie Mol Arborescences argument British Aircraft Corporation brochure Brooklands Museum Bruno Latour Callon cancellation chapter coherent conditions of possibility context coordination cultural decision deﬁned diﬀerent diﬃcult discussion distribution Donna Haraway doubt eﬀaced eﬀect engine English Electric English Electric/Short Bros exhibit explore ﬁnd ﬁrm ﬁrst ﬁxed ﬂy Foucault fractional gendering grand narrative gust response heterogeneity imagine instance interferences interpellation Latour lift slope logic look Michel Callon missiles modern narration nuclear object oﬀ oﬀered ontology oscillation overlap particular perform perhaps perspectivalism pinboard political postmodern reﬂect reﬂexive relations Royal Air Force semiotics similarities and diﬀerences simply single singularity and multiplicity social Sociology speciﬁc speed story storytelling strategy subject positions talk technical technoscience technoscience studies tell things tion trope TSR2 TSR2 project Vickers Armstrong weapons system wing