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Strange Weather

Overview

Who speaks for science in a technologically dominated society? In his latest work of cultural criticism Andrew Ross contends that this question yields no simple or easy answer. In our present technoculture a wide variety of people, both inside and outside the scientific community, have become increasingly vocal in exercising their right to speak about, on behalf of, and often against, science and technology.

Arguing that science can only ever be understood as a social artifact, ...

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Overview

Who speaks for science in a technologically dominated society? In his latest work of cultural criticism Andrew Ross contends that this question yields no simple or easy answer. In our present technoculture a wide variety of people, both inside and outside the scientific community, have become increasingly vocal in exercising their right to speak about, on behalf of, and often against, science and technology.

Arguing that science can only ever be understood as a social artifact, Strange Weather is a manifesto which calls on cultural critics to abandon their technophobia and contribute to the debates which shape our future. Each chapter focuses on an idea, a practice or community that has established an influential presence in our culture: New Age, computer hacking, cyberpunk, futurology, and global warming.

In a book brimming over with intelligence—both human and electronic—Ross examines the state of scientific countercultures in an age when the development of advanced information technologies coexists uneasily with ecological warnings about the perils of unchecked growth. Intended as a contribution to a “green” cultural criticism, Strange Weather is a provocative investigation of the ways in which science is shaping the popular imagination of today, and delimiting the possibilities of tomorrow.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“A marvellous, sceptical history of the culture of prediction. Between the technocrat’s theme-park dreams and the catastrophist’s ominous signs, he sees futures that we can live in.”—Meaghan Morris

“Sharply critical yet generously appreciative, Strange Weather will stand as the definitive study of the technoculture which increasingly dominates our lives.”—Joel Kovel

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Ross ( No Respect: Intellectuals and Popular Culture ) delves into the ways in which technocratic elites (military, corporate, scientific) have set the agenda for public opinion and examines the challenges to those elites posed by popular and alternative cultures. He explores groups--such as New Agers and cyberpunk SF purveyors and fans--who have marginalized themselves by choice and by their potential resistance to a techno-fascist future. In elegant prose and carefully worked out thought, Ross shows these groups to be communities of shared interests that encourage participation by all, the mechanisms of ``a more radically democratic future.'' He is not blind, however, to the their limitations, expressing forcefully his objections to the sour dystopias of the cyberpunks and the failure of much eco-futurology to recognize the complexity of the human presence on earth, eliding differences of race, class and gender. The book's other theme, perhaps its most important one, is that science and technology, like economics and politics, are the products of social formations. (Nov.)
Library Journal
The essays collected here continue Ross's middle-level discussion begun in his No Respect: Intellectuals & Popular Culture ( LJ 5/15/89). In each book Ross seeks a common language between intellectual leaders and common people. An English professor and cultural critic, he discusses in case studies several scientific countercultures: the New Age, hackers, cyberpunk fiction, futurists, global warming, and weather forecasting. He urges these communities to refine their analysis of hard science and technology in order to achieve more influence on the social and environmental outcomes of future sci-tech projects. Although the book assumes wide reading in these areas, examples are selected to support the author's position but not the richness of the community. For example, science is equated with factual knowledge. The debate generated by such writers as Bruno Latour in his Science in Action (Harvard Univ. Pr., 1987) is neglected here. A conclusion, glossary, and bibliography would enhance accessibility. An optional purchase for large public and academic libraries.-- Christopher R. Jocius, Illinois Mathematics & Science Acad., Aurora
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780860915676
  • Publisher: Verso Books
  • Publication date: 10/1/1991
  • Series: Haymarket Series
  • Pages: 292
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Andrew Ross is Professor and Director of the Graduate Program in American Studies at New York University. His books include No Respect, Strange Weather, The Chicago Gangster Theory of Life; the editor of Universal Abandon?; and the co-editor of Microphone Fiends.
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