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Sociology of Neuroscience or Neurosociology?

Sociological Reflections on the Neurosciences

ISBN: 978-1-84855-880-9, eISBN: 978-1-84855-881-6

Publication date: 17 October 2011


A neuroscientific turn has been diagnosed in several disciplines, but sociology has not yet undertaken this turn. While other social science disciplines are engaging in a lively discussion with the ‘new brain sciences’ and have established extensive collaboration, exchange between neuroscience and sociology is almost absent. Besides a general scepticism towards “reductionist” explanations, this is largely due to sociology focusing on its traditional role as observer and critic of current developments in science. In this chapter, I argue that this ‘sociology of neuroscience’ approach should be complemented by an increased attention to actual neuroscientific findings with respect to key theoretical concepts in sociology and social theory more generally. I discuss how contemporary neuroscience research can assist in sharpening and empirically refining our understanding of a number of micro-sociological concepts that often elude investigation with more traditional social science methods. I highlight the possible benefits and pitfalls of such endeavours by discussing the ‘neurosociology’ paradigm and sketch alternative ways of mutual engagement with the new brain sciences.


von Scheve, C. (2011), "Sociology of Neuroscience or Neurosociology?", Pickersgill, M. and Van Keulen, I. (Ed.) Sociological Reflections on the Neurosciences (Advances in Medical Sociology, Vol. 13), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 255-278.



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