On the mid range: an exercise in disposing (or minding the gaps)
University of Exeter
Science, Technology & Human Values
Many efforts to establish concepts and theories of the middle range have sought to find an appropriate balance between theoretical abstraction and the desire to remain faithful to the empirical complexity of phenomenon. As with other forms of expertise, those analyzing socio-technical life face acute tensions in attempting to reconcile the general and the specific in a manner which is regarded as credible. Through a consideration of the self-referential implications of STS critiques of traditional notions of science as well as attempts to establish rules for the acceptability of coercive force, this article develops a sense of what is at stake in attempts by actors and analysts to grasp the general and the specific together. Instead of seeking to identify a point of resolution for the two, it advocates and exemplifies the need to attend to the dilemmas associated with the movement between the general and the specific. The middle range concept of "disposal strategies" is offered both as an aid to the study of socio-technical life and as an example of attending to the movement between the general and specific.
ESRC project RES-223-25-0053
© 2007 SAGE Publications. Post-print version. 12 month embargo by the publisher. Article will be released November 2008.