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Sociomics: social science perspectives on proteomics

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published

Journal publication date10/2006
JournalMolecular and Cellular Proteomics
Journal number10
Volume5
PagesS49
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

This presentation reports on social science research undertaken for a Flagship Project at the Centre for Economics & Social Aspects of Genomics (CESAGen), funded by the UK Economic & Social Research Council (ESRC). [1] We are studying proteomics from the field of science & technology studies (STS), a field interested in how scientific facts and knowledge are made. Historically, the field has used laboratory studies as a research method, whereby the social scientist spends time in a laboratory, observing and sometimes participating in the daily practices of the scientific “tribe” under study. Latour and Woolgar’s Laboratory Life, one of the seminal works in our field, is based on the 2 years that Latour spent in Guillemin’s protein laboratory at the Salk Institute in the mid 1970s. So why does our field need another study on protein science? Because since then protein science has gone Big. Proteomics experiments transcend the walls of the laboratory. Proteomics is “technology-driven and technology-limited”—it is a discovery Technoscience rather than a science. This means that commercial vendors are closely involved in the practices that make proteomics knowledge. It is also e-science; the practices of proteomics have co-developed with, and are dependent on, the internet, digitalised databases and search engines. Our research is an interpretation of what it means to do “laboratory” studies today. It is a response to the challenges that the “omicisation,” instrumentalisation, globalisation and digitalisation of the biosciences poses to our own field. In this poster we describe our sociomic methods for following, observing and participating with proteomics actors, and give a social science perspective on the making of proteomics.