The Right Tools for the Job
At Work in Twentieth-Century Life Sciences
Edited by Adele E. Clarke & Joan H. Fujimura


This volume examines scientific practice through studies of research tools in an array of twentieth-century life sciences. The contributors draw upon and extend the multidisciplinary perspectives in current science studies to understand the processes through which scientific researchers constructed the right--and, in some cases, the wrong--tools for the job. The articles portray the crafting or accessing of specific materials, techniques, instruments, models, funds, and work arrangements involved in doing scientific work. They demonstrate the historical and local contingencies of scientific problem construction and solving by highlighting the articulation between the tools and jobs. Indeed, the very "rightness" of the tools is contingently constructed, maintained, lost, and refashioned.

The cases examined include evolutionary biology laboratory systems (James R. Griesemer), the plasmid prep procedure in molecular biology (Kathleen Jordan and Michael Lynch), models in the human ecology of African pastoralists (Peter Taylor), the micromanometer in metabolic studies (Frederic L. Holmes), genetics research and the role played by Planaria (Gregg Mitman and Anne Fausto-Sterling) and by corn (Barbara A. Kimmelman), quantitative data in field biology (Yrj Haila), taxidermy in natural history (Susan Leigh Star), technical standardization in bacteriology (Patricia Peck Gossell), and the discipline of immunology as the tool for stabilizing conceptual definitions in the field (Peter Keating, Alberto Cambrosio, and Michael Mackenzie).

First published in 1992.

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