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Put to the Test: Critical Evaluations of Testing

December 10, 2018 @ 08:00 - December 11, 2018 @ 17:00

International workshop, University of Warwick
10 and 11 December 2018.
Supported by the ERC project BLINDSPOT, the Centre for Interdisciplinary Methodologies
(University of Warwick), the
Sociological Review, and the Center on Organizational
Innovation (Columbia University)
Jonathan Bach
(New School for Social Research),
Nathan Coombs
(University of
Francisca Grommé
Noortje Marres
(University of Warwick),
Daniel Neyland
Joan Robinson
(Columbia University),
Willem Schinkel
(Erasmus University),
Luciana de Souza Leão
(Columbia University),
Antoine Hennion
(Mines ParisTech/CNRS),
David Stark
(University of Warwick/Columbia University),
Martin Tironi
(Catholic University de Chile),
Janet Vertesi
(Princeton University).
This workshop brings together established scholars and junior researchers from across
science & technology studies (STS), sociology and related fields to discuss new topics and
problems in the study of testing in society, and to outline a research agenda for the critical
evaluation of testing.
A test can be defined as an orchestrated attempt to reveal an entity’s potentially
unknown properties or capacities. A driving exam, a drug
trial and a planetary probe are all
procedures designed to ascertain the properties of some entity. However, while tests and
testing are well-established social forms, the role of test and testing in culture, economy and
politics seems to be expanding. With stress testing of financial institutions, smart city
experimentation, beta-testing in software development, pilot projects in crime control, and
randomized controlled trials in economic development, the protocols, grammars, and logics
of testing are becoming increasingly prominent as ways of intervening in society, managing
organisations, and enacting public life.
In an age of digital innovation, testing seems to have become ubiquitous, as tests are routinely deployed as a marketing device, a form of governance, or an everyday practice to evaluate the self. Indeed, some have argued that we are increasingly “governed by pilot” (Grommé, 2015). What are the social and political consequences of ubiquitous testing? What are its implications for relations between innovation, organisations, public politics, and everyday life? And what remains of the potential for experimentation as an emancipatory form?
For this event, scholars whose work has already contributed to the social study of
testing, have been i
nvited to work through the above wider questions through an examination
of exemplars. The workshop will take the form of structured discussion of working papers.
Organised by:
Noortje Marres and David Stark (Centre for Interdisciplinary Methodologies,
University of Warwick)
We have a limited number of places available for this workshop, and places
will therefore be allocated through an application process. Consideration will be given to
research interests as related to the event, as well as d
istribution of career trajectory.
Applications will close 15 November, 17.00 GMT.
Decisions will be communicated by the end of November 2018.
Please apply to attend here.
For queries, please contact


December 10, 2018 @ 08:00
December 11, 2018 @ 17:00