Reference : The field laboratory in the sugar industry
Scientific congresses and symposiums : Unpublished conference/Abstract
Social & behavioral sciences, psychology : Sociology & social sciences
The field laboratory in the sugar industry
[fr] Le laboratoire de campagne dans l'industrie sucrière
Melard, François mailto [Université de Liège - ULiège > Département des sciences et gestion de l'environnement > Département des sciences et gestion de l'environnement >]
Annual Meeting of the Society of the Social Studies of Science
28-31 octobre 1999
San Diego
[en] sugar industry ; Polarimetry ; STS ; Belgium ; Laboratory
[en] Abstract for the thematic stream « Disciplines & Instruments »

The aim of my intervention concern the implication of a scientific instrument inside an industrial context of usage. The latter takes the form of various little laboratories situated in the countryside. More precisely, those laboratories are generally situated in the area surronding fields and have the objective to evaluate the weight and the content of saccharose of the sugar beets deliveries ; and this for contractual purposes. The beet testing laboratories constitute a social and technical mediator by which a mode of coordination is temporarly crafted between two groups of actors : the growers and the sugar manufactuers. The instruments of measurment, and more specifically the polariscope, which compose this technological system have the interesting particularities to be submited to the contradictory supervision of both parties. Instead of just being a private place for secret industrial practices, the beet testing laboratory is widely open to public scrutiny. The perpetual negociations that take place inside the laboratories are done according to the « correct » application of a chemical protocol. In that respect, modes of visualisation are produced in order to give form to general values like efficacity, soundness or equity inside concrete procedures. The contradictory control that make the testing of sugar beets operational is conceived here as a dynamic pattern through which the reality of both a natural resource and the commited economical actors, is produced. Measurement as form of coordination is one of the central subjects in the field of the sociology of metrological practices. I will treat some aspects of industrial practices inside those beet testing laboratories in the light of the many ethnographical works done about scientific laboratories.
Researchers ; Students

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