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William R. Freudenburg, A Life in Social Research
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78190-734-4

Book part
Publication date: 20 December 2013

Scott Frickel

“Beyond the Nature/Society Divide: Learning to Think about a Mountain” was published in 1995 (Freudenburg, Frickel, & Gramling, 1995) just as environmental sociology was…

Abstract

“Beyond the Nature/Society Divide: Learning to Think about a Mountain” was published in 1995 (Freudenburg, Frickel, & Gramling, 1995) just as environmental sociology was entering into its first internal philosophical debate, waged between materialists and social constructionists. Today the debate has moved beyond the article’s relatively modest arguments, but the work continues to be cited and earn critical attention for its contributions to that earlier conversation. This remembrance essay recalls the article’s publication history, begun in 1992, leading to its eventual publication in Sociological Forum and offers philosophical, sociological, and personal reflections on that process.

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William R. Freudenburg, A Life in Social Research
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78190-734-4

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Fields of Knowledge: Science, Politics and Publics in the Neoliberal Age
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78350-668-2

Book part
Publication date: 22 July 2014

David J. Hess and Scott Frickel

This Introduction gives a historical and theoretical overview of this volume on Fields of Knowledge: Science, Politics and Publics in the Neoliberal Age, which showcases…

Abstract

This Introduction gives a historical and theoretical overview of this volume on Fields of Knowledge: Science, Politics and Publics in the Neoliberal Age, which showcases original research in political sociology of science targeting the changes in scientific and technological policy and practice associated with the rise of neoliberal thought and policies since the 1970s. We argue that an existing family of field theoretic frameworks and empirical field analyses provides a particularly useful set of ideas and approaches for the meso-level understanding of these historical changes in ways that complement as well as challenge other theory traditions in sociology of science, broadly defined. The collected papers exhibit a dual focus on sciences’ interfield relations, connecting science and science policy to political, economic, educational, and other fields and on the institutional logics of scientific fields that pattern expert discourses, practices, and knowledge and shape relations of the scientific field to the rest of the world. By reconceptualizing the central problem for political sociology of science as a problem of field- and inter-field dynamics, and by critically engaging other theory traditions whose assumptions are in some ways undermined by the contemporary history of neoliberalism, we believe these papers collectively chart an important theoretical agenda for future research in the sociology of science.

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Fields of Knowledge: Science, Politics and Publics in the Neoliberal Age
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78350-668-2

Abstract

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Fields of Knowledge: Science, Politics and Publics in the Neoliberal Age
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78350-668-2

Book part
Publication date: 22 July 2014

Sainath Suryanarayanan and Daniel Lee Kleinman

This paper utilizes controversies over the role of a set of insecticides in mass honey bee die-offs in two different national contexts – France and the United States – in…

Abstract

This paper utilizes controversies over the role of a set of insecticides in mass honey bee die-offs in two different national contexts – France and the United States – in order to understand the science-state nexus in a comparative manner. On the one hand, the French government in 1999 and 2004 suspended the commercial use of the insecticidal products that beekeepers suspected of causing the honey bee declines. On the other hand, the US government has to date refused to heed beekeepers’ calls to limit the usage of the very same set of insecticides. We examine why the governments of France and the United States came to contrasting conclusions regarding broadly similar technoscientific issues. The divergent outcomes, we argue, are not simply the result of predetermined differences in the two states’ regulatory paradigms (with France being “precautionary,” and the United States adhering to a “sound science” approach), but are underpinned by divergent forms of beekeepers’ resistance. The paper further sheds light on non-state actors’ use of science and state to contest state (in)action by analyzing how historically influenced differences in state structures, the relational dynamics of beekeepers’ and farmers’ organizations, and the epistemic cultures of honey bee knowledge production, shaped different forms of resistance and influence in France and the United States.

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Fields of Knowledge: Science, Politics and Publics in the Neoliberal Age
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78350-668-2

Book part
Publication date: 22 July 2014

Abby Kinchy, Kirk Jalbert and Jessica Lyons

This paper responds to recent calls for deeper scrutiny of the institutional contexts of citizen science. In the last few years, at least two dozen civil society…

Abstract

This paper responds to recent calls for deeper scrutiny of the institutional contexts of citizen science. In the last few years, at least two dozen civil society organizations in New York and Pennsylvania have begun monitoring the watershed impacts of unconventional natural gas drilling, also known as “fracking.” This study examines the institutional logics that inform these citizen monitoring efforts and probes how relationships with academic science and the regulatory state affect the practices of citizen scientists. We find that the diverse practices of the organizations in the participatory water monitoring field are guided by logics of consciousness-raising, environmental policing, and science. Organizations that initiate monitoring projects typically attempt to combine two or more of these logics as they develop new practices in response to macro-level social and environmental changes. The dominant logic of the field remains unsettled, and many groups appear uncertain about whether and how their practices might have an influence. We conclude that the impacts of macro-level changes, such as the scientization of politics, the rise of neoliberal policy ideas, or even large-scale industrial transformations, are likely to be experienced in field-specific ways.

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Fields of Knowledge: Science, Politics and Publics in the Neoliberal Age
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78350-668-2

Book part
Publication date: 22 July 2014

Elizabeth Popp Berman

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…

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.

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Fields of Knowledge: Science, Politics and Publics in the Neoliberal Age
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78350-668-2

Book part
Publication date: 20 December 2013

Thomas K. Rudel

Despite their salience as tools for understanding society–environment relationships, coupled natural and human (CNH) systems approaches have consistently failed to offer…

Abstract

Despite their salience as tools for understanding society–environment relationships, coupled natural and human (CNH) systems approaches have consistently failed to offer realistic pictures of the political processes that shape efforts to create sustainable societies. Engagement with William R. Freudenburg’s work on political inequalities in the regulation of natural resources and its incorporation into CNH work would address this source of weakness. Over the course of two decades, Freudenburg introduced a set of concepts that describe the political mechanisms through which politically powerful polluters prevent environmental policy reforms. Freudenburg and Gramling’s last book, about the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, integrates Freudenburg’s political concepts into a CNH analysis and produces an explanation for the oil spill that is exceptional in its empirically accurate treatment of the role of political inequalities in shaping environmental outcomes. Future progress in CNH systems analyses hinges to a great degree on its ability to portray power dynamics in realistic ways. The Freudenburg–Gramling book on the Deepwater Horizon oil spill shows us how to do so. It represents an intellectual legacy which Bill Freudenburg would have been proud of.

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William R. Freudenburg, A Life in Social Research
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78190-734-4

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Article
Publication date: 1 June 1998

William R. Freudenburg, Scott Frickel and Rachel E. Dwyer

Examines the debate over “Higher superstition” (Gross and Levitt, 1994). Puts forward the arguments in the book and the response to the book from members of the US science…

Abstract

Examines the debate over “Higher superstition” (Gross and Levitt, 1994). Puts forward the arguments in the book and the response to the book from members of the US science and technology studies community. Asserts that increases in technical control have been at the expense of social and individual control. Mentions “diversionary reframing” – changing the subject, possibly by diverting attention away from the subject matter to the person doing the criticizing. Explores public attitudes towards science and technology, quoting a number of layman approaches to the bafflement of science. Identifies the irony in Gross and Levitt’s arguments, particularly in developing the interface between science and technology. Recommends paying more attention to the social construction of beliefs.

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International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, vol. 18 no. 5/6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0144-333X

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