Rationale

To promote justice – to fight for it – is perhaps naturally what we should look to do. It is hard to argue with ‘justice’, but we must. What hides behind the lofty claims of beneficence; whose interests are served when this unquestionable, resistant, and highly attractive motif gets mobilized? Moreover, how can the answers to such concerns help us to move towards a more nuanced conception of the fair, or the just?

Indeed, we might think that ‘justice’ resonates with the loftiest claims of contemporary technoscience – its capacity to protect our communities and make them more equitable. Those behind the National DNA Database highlight that more than 300,000 crimes have been detected using its data since 1998. The activists who lament the overrepresentation of Black people on the database may have a different perspective on provision of ‘justice’ such a technology enables. In a different vein, 23andMe sells spit kits for individual customers’ genomic sequencing. They provide individuals with their own genomic data, and the opportunity to share this data for research that will produce ‘findings that will benefit us all’. How one claims to have actually achieved such a feat is harder to imagine.

This workshop provides an opportunity for early careers researcher to engage overtly and critically with an emergent dialogue around the potentialities of science as the arbiter of social justice. We invite scholarship across the spectrum of STS, Medical Sociology, and Sociology, but would welcome papers from beyond these fields too.

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