The Mangle in Practice

Science, Society, and Becoming

The Mangle in Practice

Science and Cultural Theory

More about this series

Book Pages: 320 Illustrations: 3 photographs Published: January 2009

Science and Technology Studies, Sociology, Theory and Philosophy > Critical Theory

In The Mangle of Practice (1995), the renowned sociologist of science Andrew Pickering argued for a reconceptualization of research practice as a “mangle,” an open-ended, evolutionary, and performative interplay of human and non-human agency. While Pickering’s ideas originated in science and technology studies, this collection aims to extend the mangle’s reach by exploring its application across a wide range of fields including history, philosophy, sociology, geography, environmental studies, literary theory, biophysics, and software engineering.

The Mangle in Practice opens with a fresh introduction to the mangle by Pickering. Several contributors then present empirical studies that demonstrate the mangle’s applicability to topics as diverse as pig farming, Chinese medicine, economic theory, and domestic-violence policing. Other contributors offer examples of the mangle in action: real-world practices that implement a self-consciously “mangle-ish” stance in environmental management and software development. Further essays discuss the mangle as philosophy and social theory. As Pickering argues in the preface, the mangle points to a shift in interpretive sensibilities that makes visible a world of de-centered becoming. This volume demonstrates the viability, coherence, and promise of such a shift, not only in science and technology studies, but in the social sciences and humanities more generally.

Contributors: Lisa Asplen, Dawn Coppin, Adrian Franklin, Keith Guzik, Casper Bruun Jensen,Yiannis Koutalos, Brian Marick, Randi Markussen, Andrew Pickering, Volker Scheid, Esther-Mirjam Sent, Carol Steiner, Maxim Waldstein


“These well-written case studies and theoretical discussions show how widely Pickering's depiction of scientific practice as mangling can be applied. . . .The anthology is exemplary—its essays are unified (around Pickering's conjecture) and refer to each other in ways that show that the authors have digested each other's drafts and noted points of agreement and difference. “ — Peter Taylor, Technology and Culture

“This reviewer finds it very interesting that Pickering's theory of the ‘mangle’ could be applied in each case study regardless of the scenario or the author's field of study. I recommend this book to anyone who is interested in interpersonal or organizational behavior and relationships.” — Amy M. Moore, International Social Science Review

[T]he book delivers on Pickering’s objective to provide a ‘theory of everything’ that, however, does not attempt to solve all problems but rather simply provides an ‘argument for a shift in interpretive sensibilities’ (viii). On this score the book richly succeeds, providing valuable insights both for those concerned with post-humanist ideas in STS and for those concerned with their convergence and integration with analogous ideas from elsewhere.” — Stephen Healy, Metascience

“Andrew Pickering is a major figure in the field of science studies. In the original, widely cited and widely admired but still controversial The Mangle of Practice, he developed a number of important concepts that are strongly resonant for many members of the current generation of scholars, researchers, and theorists in the social sciences and humanities. This new, very substantial, highly readable collection will be illuminating for readers interested in science studies, post-humanist approaches to ethical-pragmatic issues, and/or new directions in ontology.” — Barbara Herrnstein Smith, author of Scandalous Knowledge: Science, Truth, and the Human

“Andrew Pickering’s ‘mangle of practice’ is one of the key contemporary interpretive frameworks that question the society/nature dichotomy. His proposal makes distinct contributions not only to science studies but to all disciplines engaged in post-humanist projects of knowledge production and committed to bypassing the sterile dichotomy between rationality and relativism. Applying Pickering’s mangle to problems ranging from natural resource management to the dynamics of police work, this timely collection demonstrates the power and flexibility of Pickering’s proposal.” — Mario Biagioli, author of Galileo’s Instruments of Credit: Telescopes, Images, Secrecy

“This excellent collection offers cutting-edge theorizations of cultural practice, showing how science and society work with and against each other across a broad cultural landscape. It is especially welcome that the essays explore, often profoundly, a number of phenomena—practices—which have rarely if ever been addressed previously, but which are shown here to possess unexpected complexity and significance.” — Arkady Plotnitsky, author of Complementarity: Anti-Epistemology after Bohr and Derrida


Availability: In stock
Price: $27.95

Open Access

Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Andrew Pickering is a professor in the Department of Sociology and Philosophy at the University of Exeter. He is the author of The Mangle of Practice: Time, Agency, and Science and Constructing Quarks: A Sociological History of Particle Physics and the editor of Science as Practice and Culture.

Keith Guzik is Assistant Professor of Sociology at Bloomfield College in Bloomfield, New Jersey.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Preface / Andrew Pickering vii

New Ontologies / Andrew Pickering 1

Part One: Studies

A Choreography of Fire: A Posthumanist Account of Australians and Eucalypts / Adrian Franklin 17

Crate and Mangle: Questions of Agency in Confinement Livestock Facilities / Dawn Coppin 46

Soul Collectors: A Meditation on Arresting Domestic Violence / Keith Guzik 67

Resisting and Accommodating Thomas Sargent: Putting Rational Expectations Economics through the Mangle of Practice / Esther-Mirjam Sent 92

The Mangle of Practice and the Practice of Chinese Medicine: A Case Study from Nineteenth-Century China / Volker Scheid 110

Marup Church and the Politics of Hybridization: On Choice and Becoming / Casper Bruun Jensen and Randi Markussen 129

Part Two: Reflexivity

Going with the Flow: Living the Mangle through Environmental Management Practice / Lisa Asplen 163

A Manglish Way of Working: Agile Software Development / Brian Marick 185

The Docile Body of the Scientist / Yiannis Koutalos 202

Part Three: Theory

The Mangle of Practice or the Empire of Signs: Toward a Dialogue between Science Studies and Soviet Semiotics / Maxim Waldstein 221

Ontological Dance: A Dialogue between Heidegger and Pickering / Carol J. Steiner 243

References 267

About the Contributors 293

Index 297

Sales/Territorial Rights: World

Rights and licensing
Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-4373-8 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-4351-6
Publicity material