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Doing laboratory ethnography: reflections on method in scientific workplaces

Stephens, Neil and Lewis, Jamie Thornton ORCID: 2017. Doing laboratory ethnography: reflections on method in scientific workplaces. Qualitative Research 17 (2) , pp. 202-216. 10.1177/1468794116678040

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Laboratory ethnography extended the social scientist’s gaze into the day-to-day accomplishment of scientific practice. Here we reflect upon our own ethnographies of biomedical scientific workspaces to provoke methodological discussion on the doing of laboratory ethnography. What we provide is less a ‘how to’ guide and more a commentary on what to look for and what to look at. We draw upon our empirical research with stem cell laboratories and animal houses, teams producing robotic surgical tools, musicians sonifying data science, a psychiatric genetics laboratory, and scientists developing laboratory grown meat. We use these cases to example a set of potential ethnographic themes worthy of pursuit: science epistemics and the extended laboratory, the interaction order of scientific work, sensory realms and the rending of science as sensible, conferences as performative sites, and the spaces, places and temporalities of scientific work.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Social Sciences (Includes Criminology and Education)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Uncontrolled Keywords: animal models, cultured meat, laboratory ethnography, interaction order, methods, psychiatric genetics, robotic surgery, Science and Technology Studies, sensory ethnography, space
Publisher: SAGE Publications
ISSN: 1468-7941
Funders: Economic and Social Research Council
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 24 October 2016
Date of Acceptance: 22 September 2016
Last Modified: 06 May 2023 03:43

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