Studying Those Who Study Us: An Anthropologist in the World of Artificial Intelligence

Paperback (Print)
Buy Used
Buy Used from
(Save 31%)
Item is in good condition but packaging may have signs of shelf wear/aging or torn packaging.
Condition: Used – Good details
Used and New from Other Sellers
Used and New from Other Sellers
from $4.11
Usually ships in 1-2 business days
(Save 85%)
Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (12) from $4.11   
  • New (4) from $19.62   
  • Used (8) from $4.11   


Diana E. Forsythe was a leading anthropologist of science, technology, and work, and especially of the field of artificial intelligence. This volume collects her best-known essays, along with other major works that remained unpublished upon her death in 1997.

The essays proceed as a series of developing variations on the key questions that still confront science and technology studies today. What assumptions do expert systems designers make about users, and about knowledge more broadly, when they build software? How should humans interact with computers, and how do they, really? Why do computing firms hire anthropologists to study human-computer interaction, and what do anthropologists find once they are hired? And how and why are traditional power asymmetries between men and women produced and maintained in engineering firms and laboratories?

The book is not only a significant anthropological study of artificial intelligence and informatics, but is also an exemplar of how reflexive ethnography should be done. Among several pioneering strands of thought, it investigates the roles of gender and power in computer engineering, looking at the cultural mechanisms that support the persistent male domination of engineering, and analyzing the laboratory as a fictive kin group that reproduces gender asymmetries.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Diane Forsythe pioneered the field of the anthropology of artificial intelligence, and the essays in this collection are crucially important for three reasons. First, they have historical value as groundbreaking work in a new field. Second, they have enduring value for other scholars, notably the burgeoning number of social scientists studying computer cultures. And Forsythe's careful discussions of her methods, and the interesting reflexivity she worked out, will serve as important models for future anthropologists and others. The editor has done an outstanding job of selecting, ordering, and introducing the essays." - Paul N. Edwards, University of Michigan

"The essays posthumously collected here are the fruits of the later career of a fine anthropologist and a sensitive, skilled ethnographer. . . . Forsythe's collection will interest a broad audience concerned with the production of software and the behavior of teams. Highly and unreservedly recommended for all collections."—Choice

"[A] thought-provoking book . . . .[It] reveals an intriguing insight into the tacit assumptions made in the fields of artificial intelligence and current anthropology."—Science Books and Film

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780804742030
  • Publisher: Stanford University Press
  • Publication date: 7/28/2002
  • Series: Writing Science Series
  • Edition description: 1
  • Pages: 272
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

The late Diana E. Forsythe was Associate Professor in the Medical Anthropology Program at the University of California, San Francisco, and a visiting scholar in the Program in Science, Technology, and Society at Stanford University.

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

Editor's Introduction
Editor's Note
1 Blaming the User in Medical Informatics: The Cultural Nature of Scientific Practice 1
2 The Construction of Work in Artificial Intelligence 16
3 Engineering Knowledge: The Construction of Knowledge in Artificial Intelligence 35
4 Knowing Engineers? A Response to Forsythe 59
5 STS (Re)constructs Anthropology: Reply to Fleck 66
6 Artificial Intelligence Invents Itself: Collective Identity and Boundary Maintenance in an Emergent Scientific Discipline 75
7 New Bottles, Old Wine: Hidden Cultural Assumptions in a Computerized Explanation System for Migraine Sufferers 93
8 Ethics and Politics of Studying Up in Technoscience 119
9 Studying Those Who Study Us: Medical Informatics Appropriates Ethnography 132
10 "It's Just a Matter of Common Sense": Ethnography as Invisible Work 146
11 Disappearing Women in the Social World of Computing 163
12 George and Sandra's Daughter, Robert's Girl: Doing Ethnographic Research in My Parents' Field 183
App Additional Publications 197
Notes 201
Bibliography 213
Index 229
Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)