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Stephen Hilgartner


photo of Stephen Hilgartner

Morrill Hall, Room 323D

Educational Background

  • Ph.D., Sociology, Cornell University
  • A.M., Sociology, University of Pennsylvania
  • A.B., Summa Cum Laude, Cornell University


Stephen Hilgartner studies the social dimensions and politics of contemporary and emerging science and technology, especially in the life sciences. His research focuses on situations in which scientific knowledge is implicated in establishing, contesting, and maintaining social order -- a theme he has examined in studies of expertise, property formation, risk disputes, and biotechnology. His book on science advice, Science on Stage: Expert Advice as Public Drama, won the 2002 Rachel Carson Prize from the Society for Social Studies of Science. His most recent book, Reordering Life: Knowledge and Control in the Genomics Revolution (MIT Press, 2017), examines how new knowledge and new regimes of control were coproduced during the Human Genome Project.

Current Research Projects

  • Making Knowledge about Risk
  • Knowledge and Control in Genomics and Postgenomics
  • Social Studies of Emerging Technologies


  • Science and Technology Studies

Graduate Fields

  • Science and Technology Studies
  • Communication
  • Public Affairs





  • Reordering Life: Knowledge and Control in the Genomics Revolution, MIT Press, 2017.

  • Handbook of Genomics, Health and Society, Sahra Gibbon, Barbara Prainsack, Stephen Hilgartner, and Janelle Lamoreaux, eds., Routledge (in press - January 2018).

  • Science & Democracy: Making Knowledge and Making Power in the Biosciences and Beyond, Stephen Hilgartner, Clark Miller, and Rob Hagendijk, eds., Routledge ( 2015).

  • Science on Stage: Expert Advice as Public Drama, Stanford University Press, 2000. Chinese translation (Shanghai Jiao Tong University Press, 2015).

Articles and Chapters

  • "The Human Genome Project and the Legacy of its Ethics Programs." In Sahra Gibbon, et al., eds., Handbook of Genomics, Health, and Society. Routledge (in press - January 2018).          
  • "Governing Gene Editing: A Constitutional Conversation." In Irus Braverman, ed., Gene Editing, Law, and the Environment: Life Beyond the Human. Routledge (2017).
  • Hilgartner, S., Prainsack, B., and Hurlbut, J.B. (2017). "Ethics in Governance in Genomics and Beyond." In Ulrike Felt, et al., eds., Handbook of Science and Technology Studies. MIT Press.
  • "Reardon, Jenny, Rachel A. Ankeny, Jenny Bangham, Katherine Darline, Stephen Hilgartner, Kathryn Maxson Jones, Beth Shapiro, and Hallam Stevens (with the Genomics Open Working Group). (2016). "Bermuda 2.0: Reflections from Santa Cruz," GigaScience 5 (1): 1-4,
  • "Capturing the Imaginary: Vanguards, Visions, and the Synthetic Biology Revolution." In Hilgartner, S., Miller, C., and Hagendijk, R., eds. (2015), Science & Democracy: Making Knowledge and Making Power in the Biosciences and Beyond, pp. 33-55. Routledge.
  • "Biotechnology," International Encyclopedia of the Social and Behavioral Sciences, 2015.
  • "Constituting Large-Scale Biology: Building a Regime of Governance in the Early Years of the Human Genome Project," BioSocieties , Volume 8, December 2013 , pp. 397-416. (available online first: doi:10.1057/biosoc.2013.31).

  • "Novel Constitutions? New Regimes of Openness in Synthetic Biology." BioSocieties, Vol. 7, pp. 188-207, June 2012. | doi:10.1057/biosoc.2012.5

  • "Selective Flows of Knowledge in Technoscientific Interaction: Information Control in Genome Research," The British Journal for History of Science, 2012.
  • "Staging High-Visibility Science: Media Orientation in Genome Research," in The Sciences' Media Connection - Public Communication and Its Repercussions: Sociology of the Sciences Yearbook, (S. Rödder, M. Franzen, P. Weingart, eds.), Springer, 2011, pp. 152-175.


  • "Intellectual Property and the Politics of Emerging Technology: Inventors, Citizens, and Powers to Shape the Future." Chicago-Kent Law Review (2009), Vol. 84, No. 1, pp. 197-224.


  • "Las Dimensiones Sociales del Conocimiento Experto del Riesgo" ("The Social Dimensions of Expert Knowledge about Risk"). In Moreno Castro, Carolina, ed., Comunicar Los Riesgos (Spain: Biblioteca Nueva, 2009).


  • "The Anticipatory State: Making Policy-Relevant Knowledge about the Future," a special issue, N. Nelson, A. Geltzer, and S. Hilgartner, eds., Science & Public Policy, volume 8, no. 8, October 2008, pp. 546-606.


  • "Making the Bioeconomy Measurable: Politics of an Emerging Anticipatory Machinery" (Comment). BioSocieties 2(3): 382-6, 2007.


  • "Overflow and Containment in the Aftermath of Disaster" (Comment). Social Studies of Science, 37(1):153-58, 2007.


  • "Voting Machinery, Counting, and Public Proofs in the 2000 US Presidential Election." Michael Lynch, Stephen Hilgartner, and Carin Berkowitz, in Making Things Public: Atmospheres of Democracy, edited by Bruno Latour and Peter Weibel. MIT Press, 2005.
  • "The Social Construction of Risk Objects: Or How to Pry Open Networks of Risk." In Short James F. and Lee Clarke, eds., Organizations, Uncertainties, and Risk, Westview Press, 1992.  Reprinted in Burgess, Adam, ed., Risk, Sage Publications, 2017.
  • "The Rise and Fall of Social Problems: A Public Arenas Model," Stephen Hilgartner and Charles L. Bosk, American Journal of Sociology, 1988.