Susan Silbey

Susan Silbey
Résidents Labex RFIEA+
pas Eurias

dates de séjour

01/10/2015 - 30/11/2015



Institution d’origine

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (États-Unis)

Fonction actuelle


pays d'origine


projet de recherche

The Illusion of Accountability: Trust and Surveillance in the Cultures of Science

Is law perceived and used differently in the research world of elite scientists than it is in the daily lives of ordinary citizens? In many ways, scientific spaces are no different than most others, equally saturated with health and safety regulations, employment and financial regulations, susceptible to claims of loss and liability. Yet for scientists, who are authorized and insulated by layers of education and expertise, the law that infuses their work has been until recently largely unnoticed, irrelevant, and inconsequential. However, newly passed laws and regulations disrupt scientists’ usual practices by requiring them to change laboratory routines, complete new training and yearly retraining, and submit to periodic inspection of laboratory practices. By substituting systems of audit for collegial interactions, the law threatens the routines of scientific practice, remaking them into conduits of surveillance. The Illusion of Accountability describes how one university attempted to create safe green laboratories in an effort to provide a model of both freedom and safety.


Professor Susan S. Silbey is the Leon and Anne Goldberg Professor of Humanities, Professor of Sociology and Anthropology, and Professor of Behavioral and Policy Sciences, Sloan School of Management at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She also serves as chair of the MIT faculty from 2017-2019. Silbey is interested in the governance, regulatory and audit processes in complex organizations. Her current research focuses on the creation of management systems for containing risks, including ethical lapses, as well as environment, health and safety hazards. She is the recipient of numerous prizes and awards for her research, including several best article prizes from the American Sociological Association, a Doctor Honoris Causa from École Normale Supérieure de Cachan in France, a John Simon Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship, a Russell Sage Foundation Fellowship, the Harry Kalven Jr. Prize for advancing the sociology of law, and the Stanton Wheeler Prize, SHASS Levitan Prize, and Committed to Caring awards for mentoring graduate students. She is Past President of the Law & Society Association, and a fellow of the American Academy of Political and Social Science. She currently sits on two panels for the National Academies of Sciences, Medicine, and Engineering: Performance Based Regulation of Hazardous Materials and the Committee on Science, Technology, and Law.