Continuous Grey Scales Versus Sharp Contrasts: Styles of Representation in Italian Clinical Cytogenetics Laboratories [Book Review]

Human Studies 35 (1):1-25 (2012)
Abstract
In some circumstances, scientists of the same discipline visualize and view differently the same scientific object. The question of representational difference , which has usually been connected to scientific revolutions or controversies, is framed here using the concept of “style,” addressing the plurality of scientific traditions within a well-established scientific field. Using ethnomethodology we will examine the divergences of representational practices that, beyond the apparent consensus of a scientific community, are present throughout the procedure of chromosomes preparation. The ethnographic data was gathered through participant observation and in-depth interviews in several Italian clinical cytogenetic laboratories. The concept of style emerges through the examination of the two alternate, and sometimes conflicting, ways of configuring the complex texture of practice, instrumental mediation, epistemic virtues, and expertise involved in scientific representation of chromosomes. Resonating with the recent debate on objectivity, it tries to articulate the concept of “epistemic virtue” outside an internalised scientific self through an aesthetic, analytical, instrumental, and ontological preferences in the current manners to produce and see the same research object
Keywords Visualization/imaging  Style  Representation and scientific practices  Ethnomethodology  Science and technology studies  Ethnography of knowledge
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