Why we resigned from 4S Council

It is with regret that Ana Viseu and I announce our resignations from our positions as elected members of the Council of the Society for Social Studies of Science (4S).

When we joined Council in 2018, the Society was playing a key part in the on-going process of transforming the interdisciplinary field of Science, Technology & Society (STS). We support the general principles guiding this project, those of accountability and transparency, and we are deeply sympathetic to the wider vision of developing transnational connections in 4S, strengthening STS in the global South, and de-colonizing STS.

But several decisions have recently been taken in 4S that we strongly believe contravene the above commitments. New committees and positions have been created without due consideration for their impact on the authority of Council and on existing 4S offices. In the last 6 months, all 4S officers have resigned.

Crucially, changes to the Society’s Charter have been proposed that, if approved, will have the effect of further concentrating power in the 4S President. These changes include a revision of the 4S election procedure, which weakens the role of Council in this process. The revised wording does not grant any formal power to Council, such as consultation and approval of the Election slate, moving away from what has been common practice in 4S.

Last week, 4S Council endorsed these changes with a small majority, leaving us with no other way to express our dissent than by resigning. The proposed Charter changes will now be voted on by the 4S membership during the 4S Business Meeting in Toronto.

Our decision to resign is thus motivated by concern about the dismantling of distributed governance in 4S and about the Society’s future. We continue to have confidence in 4S and Council to work towards the shared objectives of accountability, transparency, transnationality and participation in STS.

Noortje Marres and Ana Viseu