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Lives in STS - A third historical-materialist radical science movement?

In the 70s I was a card-carrying member of the British 'radical science movement’ - a founder member of Radical Science Journal - and I published things - including Living Thinkwork (1980) and Science or Society (1982) - that directly addressed agendas of the movement. In 2007 Gary Werskey - also a member of that 70s movement and of RSJ (and incidentally, the person who gave me the hints in 1970 that triggered my PhD research) - wrote a review of #radicalscience in Britain: ‘Marxist critiques of capitalist science - A history in three movements?’ (see below). This present topic is framed by that ‘three movements’ perspective.

In 2016 I had been engaged in legacy work for the 70s movement, mainly related to plans that others had set in motion, to create an archive at the Wellcome Foundation for BSSRS (British Society for Social Responsibility in Science) and the 70s and 80s movement. In the Autumn of 2016 the radical technology movement held a celebration event: 40th anniversary of the significant 1976 collection, Radical Technology. At that meeting I could see that radical tech had lasted better than radical science - because it had always been thoroughly grounded in the making of life-practices, working #usevalue economies and technologies-in-use.


I met Lu (Lucy) Gao at the RT meeting. Lucy was/is an Associate Professor in the Chinese Academy of Sciences who, in that year, had started into researching the British 70s radical science movement, in the belief that the history of those times holds insights for culture, politics, economy and society in #China today and tomorrow. This collection here is grounded in a project for 4S Sydney, September 2018 (Society for Social Studies of Science, annual conference) jointly between Mike Hales (Barefoot Documents, Brighton) and Lu Gao (Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing). STS - Science and Technology Studies - is the diffuse academic practice that succeeded 'radical science' in the 80s (or failed to succeed it, depending on your view) and 4S is the gathering of the STS clans.


The 4S presentation - details below - is by video, in a session convened by Peter Taylor (University of Massachusetts, Boston - a member of the editorial Board of Science as Culture, where Gary’s 2007 article appeared, and which took over from RSJ in the 80s). There are other resources (see below) associated with that project, derived from work I did in 2017-18, assembling perspectives and materials relating to the 70s movement. This includes work alongside Peter Harper, Zac Bharucha and David Kaye, all of whom have published reflections on the radical science/radical technology movement in Britain.

The 4S presentation references the #P2P-commons movement (understood to be standing in the place of the 'third radical science movement'  anticipated in Gary Werskey’s article) and thus connects with the #Commoning thread of this website.

The presentation is at <>
gao hales   4S continuing experiments (19 min)   
A presentation for the Sydney 2018 meeting of 4S (Society for Social Studies in Science) by Lu Gao and Mike Hales. The session topic is: Lives in STS as a series of failed political experiments? The presentation addresses "Professionals’ lives as ongoing experiments . . in a field of class".

The presentation has these related materials:

Introductory summary

Script for the voice-over

Slides' text

Transcript of interviews on 'three movements' in China and Britain, 1930s to present-day, as research for this presentation.

Working notes

These working notes, from Mike Hales to Lucy Gao, are background contributions to the 4S session. The whole presentation is framed by the 2007 Werskey article.

  • Hales (2018), #1, Theory of practice

  • Hales (2018), #2, The China narrative - and the narrative of an individual 'Life in STS'

  • Hales (2018), #3, No longer ’radical science’, outsider to STS

  • Hales (2018), #4, Citizen science, the global movement for the commons

  • Hales (2018), #5, Lives in STS - questionnaire

  • Hales (2018), #6, The second radical history movement

  • Werskey (2007), The Marxist critique of capitalist science - A history in three movements? Science as culture

Related 'radical science' archive material

This material is part of an archive on radical science and radical technology movements in Britain in the 70s.

  • For pdf eBook or print-on-demand paperback versions of #LTW Living Thinkwork (1980) and #SoS Science or Society (1982, extracts), see Lulu: mh Lulu publications. - these are not held on the this site here, because of storage limitations. The extracts from Science or Society were selected for republishing because they address forms of organising in radical-professional practice.

More commentary to come . . but several of these items include their own contextualising comments.

Next | Radical history


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