Routledge International Handbook of Ignorance Studies  book cover
1st Edition

Routledge International Handbook of Ignorance Studies

ISBN 9781138596290
Published April 25, 2018 by Routledge
408 Pages

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Book Description

Once treated as the absence of knowledge, ignorance today has become a highly influential topic in its own right, commanding growing attention across the natural and social sciences where a wide range of scholars have begun to explore the social life and political issues involved in the distribution and strategic use of not knowing. The field is growing fast and this handbook reflects this interdisciplinary field of study by drawing contributions from economics, sociology, history, philosophy, cultural studies, anthropology, feminist studies, and related fields in order to serve as a seminal guide to the political, legal and social uses of ignorance in social and political life.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction, Matthias Gross and Linsey McGoey  Part 1: Historical Treatments of Ignorance in Philosophy, Literature and the Human Sciences  2. Ignorance and Investigation, Jens Haas and Katja Vogt  3. Learned Ignorance: The apophatic tradition of cultivating the virtue of unknowing, William Franke  4. Literary Ignorance, Andrew Bennett  5. Popper, Ignorance, and the Emptiness of Fallibilism, Shterna Friedman  6. From Descartes to Rumsfeld: The rise and decline of ignorance-of-ignorance, Jerome Ravetz  7. The Anatomy of Ignorance: Literature as a diagnostic tool, Devjani Roy and Richard Zeckhauser  Part 2: Registering the Unknown: ignorance as methodology  8. The Production of Forbidden Knowledge, Joanna Kempner  9. Ignorance and the Epistemic Choreography of Method, Mike Michael  10. Sharing the Resources of Ignorance, Stuart Firestein  11. Expect the Unexpected: Experimental music, or the ignorance of sound design, Basile Zimmermann  12. Purveyors of Ignorance: Journalists as agents in the social construction of scientific ignorance, S. Holly Stocking and Lisa Holstein  13. Ignorance and the Brain: Are there distinct kinds of unknowns?, Michael Smithson and Helen Pushkarskaya  14. Linguistics and Ignorance, Nina Janich and Anne Simmerling  15. Undone Science and Social Movements: A review and typology, David Hess  Part 3: Valuing and Managing the Unknown in Science, Technology and Medicine  16. Science— For better or worse, a source of ignorance as well as knowledge, Janet A. Kourany  17. Selective Ignorance in Environmental Research, Kevin Elliott  18. Lost in Space: Geographies of ignorance in science and technology studies, Scott Frickel and Abby Kinchy  19. Ignorance and Industry: Agrichemicals and Honey Bee Deaths, Daniel Lee Kleinman and Sainath Suryanarayanan  20. Doubt, Ignorance and Trust: On the unwarranted fears raised by the doubt-mongers’ pursuit, Albert Ogien  21. Decision-Making Under the Condition of Uncertainty and Non-Knowledge: The deliberative turn in genetic counselling, Alexander Bogner  22. Fighting a Losing Battle? The right not to know and the dynamics of biomedical knowledge production, Peter Wehling  Part 4: Power and Ignorance: Oppression, emancipation, and shifting subjectivities  23. Global White Ignorance, Charles Mills  24. Intersubjective Vulnerability, Ignorance, and Sexual Violence, Erinn Cunniff  25. Vulnerability, Ignorance and the Experience of Radical Surprises, Christian Kuhlicke  26. Anthropological Perspectives on Ritual and Religious Ignorance, Liana Chua  27. Criminal Ignorance, Darren Thiel  28. Targeting Ignorance To Change Behaviour, Deborah Prentice  29. Rational Ignorance, Ilya Somin  30. Democracy and Practices of Ignorance, Lev Marder  Part 5: Ignorance in Economic Theory, Risk Management, and Security Studies  31. The Production and the Function of the Under-Reporting of Farm-Workers' Pesticide Poisoning in French and Californian Regulations, François Dedieu, Jean-Noël Jouzel, Giovanni Prete  32. To Know or Not to Know? A note on ignorance as a rhetorical resource in geoengineering debates, Steve Rayner  33. Unfolding the Map: Making knowledge and ignorance mobilization dynamics visible in science evaluation and policymaking, Joanne Gaudet  34. Ignorance is Strength?: Intelligence, security and national secrets, Brian Rappert and Brian Balmer  35. Ignorance and the Sociology of Economics, Oliver Kessler  36. Decision-theoretic Approaches to Non-Knowledge in Economics, Ekaterina Svetlova and Henk Van Elst  37. Organizational Ignorance, Joanne Roberts  38. Managing with Ignorance: The new ideal, Allison Stewart  39. Taking it Personally: Medical ignorance, Ann Kerwin  40. Afterword Ignorance Studies: Interdisciplinary, multidisciplinary, and transdisciplinary, Michael Smithson

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Matthias Gross is full professor in the Institute of Sociology, University of Jena and, by joint appointment, at Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research – UFZ, Leipzig, Germany. His research focusses on the sociology of energy, risk and ignorance, and experimental practices in science and society. His most recent monograph is Renewable Energies (with R. Mautz, 2014, Routledge).

Linsey McGoey is Senior Lecturer in Sociology at the University of Essex. Recent articles appear in the British Journal of Sociology, History of the Human Sciences, and Economy and Society. She is editor of An Introduction to the Sociology of Ignorance: Essays on the Limits of Knowing (Routledge, 2014).


The epistemological and political relevance of ignorance has increased in recent years and this has been mirrored in a growing but diverse body of literature concerning relevant phenomena and conceptual perspectives. This Handbook is a milestone in this course of study…shedding light on different approaches and offering an indispensable compass for further investigation. - Stefan Böschen, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), Germany

It is surprising that when philosophers and sociologists have spilled so much ink on the production of knowledge, they have devoted such sporadic attention to the social life of ignorance. In asking us to rectify our ignorance about ignorance, this volume does nothing less than map out a new field of interdisciplinary inquiry. - Andrew Barry, University College London, UK

"[This handbook] contributes with bravura to the rehabilitation of the field of ignorance studies, and it helps to respond to Karl Weick’s (1998) suggestion to organizations and their administrators: ‘in lieu of seeking more knowledge, organizations should be defined by what they ignore’." Miguel Pina e Cunha, Prometheus: Critical Studies in Innovation, 33:3,pp. 330-334, August 2016.