LCHC Bio: Susan Leigh Star









Susan Leigh Star

Department of Communication
University of California, San Diego
9500 Gilman Drive La Jolla, CA 92093-0503
fax 858/534-7315

Susan Leigh Star (Leigh or L*) is Professor in the Department of Communication at UC San Diego, and Adjunct Professor of Sociology. She received her PhD in sociology of science and medicine from UC San Francisco, where she worked with Anselm Strauss. She has long been active in feminist organizing and research. Before coming to UCSD in 1999, she was Professor of Information Science at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, and on the women's studies, sociology, and computer science faculties there. She has also taught at UC Irvine and Keele University, in England, and several universities in Scandinavia as guest professor. Much of her research has been on the social implications and design of large-scale technology, especially information technology. Her point of departure is the sociology of work, including emphases on invisible work in creating representations and infrastructure.

Most recently, she has completed a major comparative study of systems of large-scale classification, reported in a book co-authored with Geoffrey Bowker, Sorting Things Out: Classification and Its Consequences(MIT, 1999)

This book examines how classification systems are constructed as working tools, and how they come to be used by various communities. Empirical examples are drawn from the International Classification of Diseases, the Nursing Intervention Classification, the International Classification of Viruses, and race classification under apartheid in South Africa. Her other recent studies have included an analysis of work practices in a distributed scientific community (c.elegans biologists); social dynamics in building a digital library for scientists and engineers (based at the University of Illinois and part of the first national Digital Library Program funded by the National Science Foundation, NASA, and ARPA); and analytic work on the ethics and politics of infrastructure.

Theoretically, she comes from a symbolic interactionist background (American Pragmatist); in recent years, she has been trying to build syntheses between symbolic interactionism and cultural-historical activity theory. She is an active member of the Society for the Social Study of Science (4S), and helps edit Mind, Culture and Activity. Among her publications are The Cultures of Computing (Blackwell, 1995); Regions of the Mind: Brain Research and the Quest for Scientific Certainty (Stanford 1989). She is volume editor for Science and Technology for the Women's Studies International Encyclopedia (edited by Cheris Kramarae and Dale Spender), forthcoming from Routledge in December 2000. Her current research concerns ethical and methodological challenges in on-line research with human subjects.

A full list of her publications can be found at her website (above).

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