Constructing a Representation for an Ecology of Knowledge
This paper examines the renewed relevance of the metaphor of `ecology of knowledge' in light of recent interests in the circulation of knowledge. As we move away from studying laboratories, institutions, and sociotechnical networks to the more loosely coordinated technical exchanges that have begun to seem as important to scientific knowledge production and engineering work, an ecological view of knowledge re-emerges as a powerful metaphor for our discipline. Earlier studies have demonstrated the value of using an ecological metaphor to attend to issues such as the contingency, indeterminacy, and heterogeneous complexity of knowledge production. This paper extends these insights by considering how metonymic relationships — part—whole relations — integral to the ecological metaphor, provide a broader picture of how we think about the linkages between knowledge and its various contexts. This paper advances a specific, layered representation for depicting an ecology of knowledge, and describes it in relation to the common representations associated with Latour and Callon's actor-network theory. The representation is also based on a phenomenological perspective and its emphasis on ordinary action. In this regard, this paper builds on earlier efforts to shift the dominant discourse in science and technology studies away from the language of causality and towards a more process-oriented understanding of technical and institutional change.