Sociometers and Sensibility: Using Sociometers to Study Scientific Collaboration

John Parker visits the STS methods lab seminar 14th October

Science and technology studies has a rich tradition of examining the social production of scientific knowledge in local social contexts, including laboratories, research groups, and scientific organizations. However, STS researchers have used the same set of methods to examine interactions among scientists over the past fifty years, including ethnographic observations, interviews, and social surveys. This talk will review the feasibility of sociometers – wearable computers that measure embodied aspects of social interaction dynamically in real time – to provide new insights about social interactions among scientists. I will discuss their potential to illuminate several key social processes occurring in scientific collaborations, and present findings from two pilot studies using sociometers to correlate social interactions with scientific creativity in collaborations occurring within two national research centers and within three art-science groups. Combining sociometric, survey, and ethnographic data enables examinations of how aspects of scientists’ speech and body movement shape group creativity and illustrates how sociometric data can complement traditional qualitative and quantitative methods. I will close with critical comments about this new technology and some practical lessons to inform future research.


John N. Parker is associate professor in the Department of Sociology and Human Geography at University of Oslo. He is a sociologist of science, creativity, and work. His research focuses on understanding the social organization of science, scientific social movements, scientific creativity, and the role of emotions in knowledge production. Some of his key publications in these areas include:

Parker, John, Edgar Cardenas, Alexander Dorr, and Edward J. Hackett. 2020. ‘‘Using Sociometers to Advance Small Group Research.’’ Sociological Methods and Research. Doi:10.1177/0049124118769091

Parker, John and Beatrice Crona. (2012). On being all things to all people: Boundary organizations and the con- temporary research university. Social Studies of Science 42(5), 263-28

Parker, John N. and Edward J. Hackett 2012. “Hot Spots and Hot Moments in Scientific Collaborations and Social Movements.” American Sociological Review 77 (1): 21–44.

Published Oct. 5, 2021 4:26 PM - Last modified Oct. 6, 2021 11:55 AM