“All these worlds are yours except …”: Science Fiction and Folk Fictions at NASA

Engaging Science, Technology, and Society

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Field Value
Title “All these worlds are yours except …”: Science Fiction and Folk Fictions at NASA
Creator Vertesi, Janet
Subject STS;science and technology studies; sociology; ethnomethodology
science fiction; politics of science; lay sociology
Description Although they command real spacecraft exploring the solar system, NASA scientists refer frequently to science fiction in the course of their daily work. Fluency with the Star Trek series and other touchstone works demonstrates membership in broader geek culture. But references to Star Trek, movies like 2001 and 2010, and Dr. Strangelove also do the work of demarcating project team affiliation and position, theorizing social and political dynamics, and motivating individuals in a chosen course of action. As such, science fiction classics serve as local folk fictions that enable embedded commentary on the socio-political circumstances of technoscientific work: in essence, a form of lay social theorizing. Such fiction references therefore allow scientists and engineers to openly yet elliptically discuss their social, political, and interactional environment, all the while maintaining face as credible, impartial, technical experts.
Publisher The Society for Social Studies of Science
Contributor National Science Foundation
Date 2019-06-12
Type info:eu-repo/semantics/article
Peer-reviewed Article
Format application/pdf
Identifier http://estsjournal.org/index.php/ests/article/view/315
Source Engaging Science, Technology, and Society; Vol 5 (2019); 135-159
Language eng
Relation http://estsjournal.org/index.php/ests/article/view/315/201
Coverage United States
21st Century
NASA planetary scientists and mission designers
Rights Copyright (c) 2019 Janet Vertesi

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