Field Theories and the Move Toward the Market in US Academic Science

Fields of Knowledge: Science, Politics and Publics in the Neoliberal Age

ISBN: 978-1-78350-668-2, eISBN: 978-1-78350-667-5

ISSN: 0198-8719

Publication date: 22 July 2014

Abstract

Field theory is one of the most visible approaches in the new political sociology of science, and Fligstein & McAdam’s (F&M) Theory of Fields is the most visible recent attempt to further it. This paper evaluates F&M’s theory of field transformation by comparing it with Berman’s (2012a) field-based explanation of the changes in the field of US academic science. While F&M’s general framework is quite useful, their explanation, which focuses on struggles between incumbents and challengers over whose conception of the field should dominate, does not map neatly onto the changes in academic science, which saw no such field-level struggles. This suggests that tools are also needed for explaining new settlements that do not result from intentional efforts to establish them. In particular, the case of US academic science shows that local innovations with practices based on alternative conceptions of the field can lead to field-level change. Attention to the interaction between local practice innovations and larger environments provides insights into how change ripples across fields, as well as the ongoing contention and dynamism within even relatively stable fields.

Citation

Elizabeth Popp Berman (2014). 'Field Theories and the Move Toward the Market in US Academic Science', Fields of Knowledge: Science, Politics and Publics in the Neoliberal Age (Political Power and Social Theory, Volume 27). Emerald Group Publishing Limited, pp. 193-221

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DOI

: https://doi.org/10.1108/S0198-871920140000027015

Publisher

:

Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2014 by Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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