Steve Woolgar

Steve Woolgar

Emeritus Professor of Marketing


  • Steve.Woolgar@sbs.ox.ac.uk

Saïd Business School University of Oxford Park End Street Oxford OX1 1HP

Profile

Alongside his role at Saïd Business School, Steve is a Professor at Linköpings University. 

His areas of expertise within the field of Science and Technology Studies (STS) include governance and accountability relations, mundane objects and ordinary technologies, provocation and intervention, visualisation and evidence, social theory and the use of neuroscience in business and management.

Steve’s considerable contributions to the field of STS are characterised by a stubborn refusal to offer stable interpretations and accept existing preconceptions and assumptions. ‘What I love about this field is that it is never at rest with itself and has profound implications on ideas throughout social sciences and humanities’, he says.

Steve’s current work focuses on the areas of mundane governance, neuromarketing and web-based rating and ranking schemes.

His research on mundane governance looks at the ways in which very ordinary objects and technologies are involved in controlling and regulating our lives. Steve’s neuromarketing work examines this new development in  marketing from an ethnographic perspective to determine how neuromarketing is being used and whether and how it  will be accepted and institutionalised by the industry. This is also part of a larger study examining the effects of the neurosciences on social sciences and humanities throughout Europe. Steve and his research team are also exploring web-based rating and ranking schemes to understand the impact of these systems in a world where seemingly every aspect of life can be rated or evaluated.

Steve served as the Director of the Economic and Social Research Council’s (ESRC) ‘Virtual Society?’ programme  for five years, overseeing  more than twenty research projects throughout the UK that examined the wide range of social impacts of new electronic technologies. ‘Virtual Society?’ was a key part of a STS movement that showed the unintended effects of implementing new technology systems.

Steve has also served as a strategic advisor for numerous international organisations including Philips (Netherlands), Elsevier (Oxford) and the World Executive Institute (Beijing). Since 2006 he has advised World Brand Lab, a brand valuation consultancy. He has recently begun work with foundations in Russia to help develop new initiatives to stimulate science and technology innovations in the country.

As a member of the Council of the Consumers’ Association (Which?), Europe’s largest consumer rights organisation, Woolgar helps oversee the development and management of Which? product offerings, most recently the creation of Which? Mortgage Advisers.

He has served as an advisor to the Research Councils of Denmark, Netherlands and Norway and also as a member of the Minister’s Advisory Groups for the UK Department of Trade and Industry’s Consumer Affairs Directorate and the Cabinet Office’s E-commerce and Small Businesses Group.

Before joining Saïd Business School in 2000 as Professor of Marketing, Steve was Professor of Sociology at Brunel University and the Director of the University’s Centre for Research into Innovation, Culture and Technology (CRICT).  Steve is the recipient of a Fulbright Scholarship and a Fulbright Senior Scholar award.  He was awarded the JD Bernal Prize for Research Distinction in 2008, and was elected to the Academy of Social Sciences in 2010. He earned a BA (First Class Honours), MA and PhD from Cambridge University.

Areas of expertise include:

  • Governance and accountability relations
  • Mundane objects and ordinary technologies
  • Provocation and intervention
  • Visualisation and evidence
  • Social theory
  • Neuromarketing
  • The use of neuroscience in business and management

 

 

Research

Steve has published widely within the fields of Science and Technology Studies (STS), social problems and social theory.

His current research in STS focuses on mundane governance, neuromarketing and web-based rating and ranking schemes.

Engagement

Steve is a pioneer in the field of Science and Technology Studies (STS).

He has worked with government agencies and international organisations to understand the impact of technologies on business and society.

As the Director of the Economic and Social Research Council’s (ESRC) ‘Virtual Society?’ programme Steve oversaw more than twenty research projects throughout the UK that examined the wide range of social impacts of new electronic technologies. ‘Virtual Society?’ was a key part of a STS movement that showed the unintended effects of implementing new technology systems.

Steve has also served as a strategic advisor for numerous international organisations including Philips (Netherlands), Elsevier (Oxford) and the World Executive Institute (Beijing). Since 2006 he has worked with World Brand Lab, a brand valuation consultancy, advising the organisation on the most beneficial industries to evaluate. He also frequently speaks at World Brand Lab events. Steve recently began work with foundations in Russia to help develop new initiatives to stimulate science and technology innovations in the country.

As a member of the Council of the Consumers’ Association (Which?), Europe’s largest consumer rights organisation, Woolgar helps oversee the development and management of Which?  product offerings and most recently the creation of Which?  Mortgage Advisers. He has served as an advisor to the Research Councils of Denmark, Netherlands and Norway and is also a member of the Minister’s Advisory Groups for the UK Department of Trade and Industry’s Consumer Affairs Directorate and the Cabinet Office’s E-commerce and Small Businesses group.

Steve regularly delivers keynote speeches, presentations and lectures to a wide variety of government, business and industry bodies. He is an editorial board member of a number of academic journals including Cultural Anthropology, Social Epistemology, Journal of Intelligent Systems and Knowledge and Society. He also serves as an editorial adviser for Social Studies of Science and Science, Technology and Human Values.

Steve is the recipient of a Fulbright Scholarship and a Fulbright Senior Scholar award.  He was a Visiting Scholar in the Department of Sociology at UC San Diego. In 2008 he was awarded the JD Bernal Prize for his contribution to the social studies of science, and was elected to the Academy of Social Sciences in 2010.

Teaching

Steve has supervised more than a dozen DPhil students and postdoctoral fellows at Oxford. He encourages his students to learn by doing.