Research

Published and Forthcoming Work

Amironesei, Razvan and Caleb Scoville (Equal Authorship). “Groundwater in California: From Juridical and Biopolitical Governmentality to a Political Physics of Vital Processes” (Accepted at Theory, Culture and Society).

Scoville, Caleb. “Hydraulic Society and ‘A Stupid Little Fish’: Toward a Historical Ontology of Endangerment.” Theory and Society. 41.1 (2019): 1-37. [read online]

  • Jane Goodall Award for Graduate Student Scholarship, Animals & Society Section, American Sociological Association
  • Hacker-Mullins Student Paper Award, Honorable Mention, Science, Knowledge, and Technology Section, American Sociological Association
  • Herbert Blumer Prize for Best Paper Written by a Berkeley Sociology Student
  • Leo Lowenthal Prize, awarded to a UC Berkeley graduate student whose research is in the spirit of Professor Lowenthal’s work

Amironesei, Razvan and Caleb Scoville (Equal Authorship). “Opposing California’s WaterFix: The Trump Administration and the Future of Environmental Advocacy.” Ethics, Policy, and Environment 21.1 (2018): 29-33. [read online]

Scoville, Caleb and Neil Fligstein. “The Promise of Field Theory for the Study of Political Institutions.” In The New Handbook of Political Sociology: States, Parties, Movements, Citizenship and Globalization edited by Thomas Janoski, Cedric DeLeon, Joy Misra, and Isaac Martin, Forthcoming 2018, Cambridge University Press.

Scoville, Caleb. “‘We Need Social Scientists!’ The Allure and Assumptions of Economistic Optimization in Applied Environmental Science.” Science as Culture 26.4 (2017): 468-480. [read online]

Scoville, Caleb. “George Orwell and Ecological Citizenship: Moral Agency and Modern Estrangement.” Citizenship Studies 20.6-7 (2016): 830-845. [read online]

Scoville, Caleb. “Reclaiming Water Politics: California’s Drought and the Eclipse of the Public.” Berkeley Journal of Sociology 59 (2015): 35-43. [read online] [republished by The Hampton Institute]

Current Projects

“Constructing Environmental Compliance: Law, Science, and Endangered Species Conservation in California’s Delta” (Under Review)

  • Pacific Sociological Association Distinguished Graduate Student Paper Award
  • Marvin E. Olsen Student Paper Award, Environmental Sociology Section, American Sociological Association

Law and society scholarship demonstrates the crucial role of compliance professionals in the construction of law’s meaning. This article extends this literature into new terrain by conceptualizing scientists as compliance professionals in relation to environmental law. I provide a synthetic reconciliation of perspectives that present law and science as incommensurable or mutually constitutive, arguing that the visions of nature operative in scientific and legal fields can serve as the basis for several possible environmental compliance relations. The approach is developed via a thirty year historical case study of the delta smelt, a controversial and intensely studied endangered species. Three compliance relations became dominant at distinct junctures in the case’s history. First is aligned visions, a relation of coordination predicated on the construction of a boundary object between science and law. Second is judicial subordination, a relation of domination, associated with periods of acute crisis (and especially litigation), in which science serves as underlaborer to judicial reason. Third is contested visions, a relation of conflict associated with the breakdown of a constructed space of compatibility between science and law. I provide ideal typical and processual interpretations of these findings and conclude with reflections on the science-law interface in the face of environmental decline.

“Markets in Action: Social Order and Disorder in the Eurozone” with Marion Fourcade (Manuscript in Preparation)

“Sociology of or Beyond Good and Evil? Bourdieu and Foucault on Freedom” (Manuscript in Preparation)

“The Global Diffusion of Field Theory” with Neil Fligstein (Manuscript in Preparation)

“Refusals, the Government of Nature, and the Politics of Infrastructure in California’s Delta” with Razvan Amironesei (Manuscript in Preparation)

Other Collaborations

EVENT: “The Hydraulic Society, Revisited,” April 21st 2017, UC Berkeley

Coordinated with Andrew Lakoff (University of Southern California)
Friday, April 21st 2017, University of California, Berkeley
What is California’s relationship with water today? In this one-day workshop we will forge a conversation about how social scientific and humanistic research can help us address this question. Thirty-five years ago, the environmental historian Donald Worster described California as “a modern hydraulic society – a social order founded on the intensive management of water.” The issues that motivated Worster’s political, economic, and ecological analysis remain relevant: the reliance of commercial agriculture and municipal growth on ongoing diversions, the relationship between economic interests and bureaucratic imperatives, the shared fate of humans and their natural environment, and the vulnerability of a civilization dependent on technologies for importing water. However, our relation to water has also evolved significantly in recent decades. One cannot understand water in California today without addressing topics such as: the entanglement of endangered species conservation and water policy, the proliferation of new groundwater management institutions and technologies, the institutionalization of adaptive management regimes, the specters of anthropogenic climate change and seismic vulnerability, and the increasing salience and visibility of environmental justice concerns. In this workshop, we will revisit the “hydraulic society thesis” in order to assess its promises and limitations in light of our own research on water in California. With Worster’s classic formulation as a shared point of departure, we will convene a diverse group of scholars in the social sciences and humanities to forge a new multi-faceted agenda for understanding California’s relationship with water.

Cybernetic Algorithms and Biometric Processes – An Inquiry into the Contemporary Modes of Government of the Living Systems

UCHRI Multicampus Faculty Working Group with Razvan Amironesei, Babak Rahimi, Lilly Irani Davide Panagia, Kamala Visweswaran.

Politics, Ethics, Ontology: An Inquiry into the Ontologies of Nature

Collaborative Research Group at the Institute of Arts and Humanities with Razvan Amironesei, Ike Sharpless, and Jacob Hellman