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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…
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.
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…
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.
This chapter compares interdisciplinary research that engages genomic science from economics, political science, and sociology. It describes, compares, and evaluates…
This chapter compares interdisciplinary research that engages genomic science from economics, political science, and sociology. It describes, compares, and evaluates concepts and research findings from new and rapidly developing research fields, and develops a conceptual taxonomy of the social environment.
A selection of programmatic and empirical articles, published mostly since 2008 in leading economics, political science, and sociology journals, were analyzed according to (a) the relationship they pose between their discipline and genomic science, (b) the specific empirical contributions they make to disciplinary research questions, and (c) their conceptualization of the “social environment” as it informs the central problematique of current inquiry: gene-environment interaction.
While all three of the social science disciplines reviewed engage genomic science, economics and political science tend to engage genomics on its own terms, and develop genomic explanations of economic and political behavior. In contrast, sociologists develop arguments that for genomic science to advance, the “environment” in gene-environment interaction needs better theorization and measurement. We develop an approach to the environment that treats it as a set of measurable institutional (rule-like) arrangements, which take the forms of neighborhoods, families, schools, nations, states, and cultures.
Interdisciplinary research that combines insights from the social sciences and genomic science should develop and apply a richer array of concepts and measures if gene-environment research – including epigenetics – is to advance.
This chapter provides a critical review and redirection of three rapidly developing areas of interdisciplinary research on gene-environment interaction and epigenetics.
This paper seeks to argue that sociology is in need of reconstruction on a theoretical and conceptual foundation of cybernetics, specifically, managerial cybernetics and…
This paper seeks to argue that sociology is in need of reconstruction on a theoretical and conceptual foundation of cybernetics, specifically, managerial cybernetics and to show how this hitherto unsuccessful task might be brought about.
The approach is one of a rigorous and deep querying of the reasons for the lack of successful fit heretofore between sociology and cybernetics. By taking a critical, historical and philosophical approach to the development of sciences it opens possibilities for the reconstruction of sociology as a “new science” based on the foundation of cybernetics, specifically the managerial cybernetics of Stafford Beer.
The work argues that the appropriate conceptual foundation for the social sciences is the realm of communication and control, ideas that were given a rigorous formulation in cybernetics, information theory and systems thinking since the 1940s. Many people have seen the prima facie appropriateness of these ideas for the study of human society and numerous attempts have been made to apply them. Almost, all of these efforts have been failures, at least from a sociological point of view. The paper suggests that the problem with all such previous attempts is that they consisted of too direct an application of cybernetics to sociology, entailing a metaphoric reduction that threatened the intellectual integrity of the discipline. Work in the history of sciences suggests that, whereas deep theoretical, foundational work may well be achieved for a realm in the abstract, so to speak, it is when attempts are made to apply these results to more phenomenal domains, to which in principle they are deemed appropriate and relevant, that problems of an apparent “lack of fit” arise. It has been found that a group of intermediating concepts is necessary to draw the two domains together in a workable fit. This process has been called “finalization of science”.
Of immediate value is the reconstruction of sociology as a cybernetically informed science of society that actually delivers theoretical, analytical, research and practical results.
The paper represents a highly original synthesis drawn from the history and philosophy of science development to yield immediate and useful results.
The current crisis of sociological theory is due to our failure to do sociology as a positive science‐our failure to accept both explanation and prediction as the goal of…
The current crisis of sociological theory is due to our failure to do sociology as a positive science‐our failure to accept both explanation and prediction as the goal of theorizing, and to use predictive power as the primary criterion for assessing theories. It is argued that sociology as a positive science can advance sociological theory. It is also argued that a positive science of sociology is possible by correcting four major fallacies‐i.e., fallacies concerning controlled experiments, realism of assumptions, subjectivity, and complexity.
The existence of hierarchies based on reputation in modern science is indisputable. A set of common scientific journals is often assumed to be instrumental in the…
The existence of hierarchies based on reputation in modern science is indisputable. A set of common scientific journals is often assumed to be instrumental in the formation of these hierarchies. However, the character of the hierarchies, how monolithic/pluralistic they are and the functions of this differentiation have been discussed and caused controversy. The article brings together results from a survey of 788 Danish researchers, mainly from the social sciences, concerning their assessments of the most influential researchers and most important journals. The rankings indicate a pluralistic picture and only a moderate degree of consensus among researchers. Comparisons with (the few) other surveys and with citation data do not suggest this to be a peculiarity of Danish social scientists, however.
Data sharing is key for replication and re-use in empirical research. Scientific journals can play a central role by establishing data policies and providing technologies…
Data sharing is key for replication and re-use in empirical research. Scientific journals can play a central role by establishing data policies and providing technologies. The purpose of this paper is to analyses the factors which influence data sharing by investigating journal data policies and the behaviour of authors in sociology.
The web sites of 140 sociology journals were consulted to check their data policy. The results are compared with similar studies from political science and economics. A broad selection of articles published in five selected journals over a period of two years are examined to determine whether authors really cite and share their data and the factors which are related to this.
Although only a few sociology journals have explicit data policies, most journals make reference to a common policy supplied by their association of publishers. Among the journals selected, relatively few articles provide data citations and even fewer make data available – this is true both for journals with and without a data policy. But authors writing for journals with higher impact factors and with data policies are more likely to cite data and to make it really accessible.
No study of journal data policies has been undertaken to date for the domain of sociology. A comparison of authors’ behaviours regarding data availability, data citation, and data accessibility for journals with or without a data policy provides useful information about the factors which improve data sharing.
Anthropologists have long discussed the ways in which their discipline has been entangled, consciously and unconsciously, with the colonized populations they study. A…
Anthropologists have long discussed the ways in which their discipline has been entangled, consciously and unconsciously, with the colonized populations they study. A foundational text in this regard was Michel Leiris' Phantom Africa (L'Afrique fantôme; Leiris, 1934), which described an African ethnographic expedition led by Marcel Griaule as a form of colonial plunder. Leiris criticized anthropologists' focus on the most isolated, rural, and traditional cultures, which could more easily be described as untouched by European influences, and he saw this as a way of disavowing the very existence of colonialism. In 1950, Leiris challenged Europeans' ability even to understand the colonized, writing that “ethnography is closely linked to the colonial fact, whether ethnographers like it or not. In general they work in the colonial or semi-colonial territories dependent on their country of origin, and even if they receive no direct support from the local representatives of their government, they are tolerated by them and more or less identified, by the people they study, as agents of the administration” (Leiris, 1950, p. 358). Similar ideas were discussed by French social scientists throughout the 1950s. Maxime Rodinson argued in the Année sociologique that “colonial conditions make even the most technically sophisticated sociological research singularly unsatisfying, from the standpoint of the desiderata of a scientific sociology” (Rodinson, 1955, p. 373). In a rejoinder to Leiris, Pierre Bourdieu acknowledged in Work and Workers in Algeria (Travail et travailleurs en Algérie) that “no behavior, attitude or ideology can be explained objectively without reference to the existential situation of the colonized as it is determined by the action of economic and social forces characteristic of the colonial system,” but he insisted that the “problems of science” needed to be separated from “the anxieties of conscience” (2003, pp. 13–14). Since Bourdieu had been involved in a study of an incredibly violent redistribution of Algerians by the French colonial army at the height of the anticolonial revolutionary war, he had good reason to be sensitive to Leiris' criticisms (Bourdieu & Sayad, 1964). Rodinson called Bourdieu's critique of Leiris' thesis “excellent’ (1965, p. 360), but Bourdieu later revised his views, noting that the works that had been available to him at the time of his research in Algeria tended “to justify the colonial order” (1990, p. 3). At the 1974 colloquium that gave rise to a book on the connections between anthropology and colonialism, Le mal de voir, Bourdieu called for an analysis of the relatively autonomous field of colonial science (1993a, p. 51). A parallel discussion took place in American anthropology somewhat later, during the 1960s. At the 1965 meetings of the American Anthropological Association, Marshall Sahlins criticized the “enlistment of scholars” in “cold war projects such as Camelot” as “servants of power in a gendarmerie relationship to the Third World.” This constituted a “sycophantic relation to the state unbefitting science or citizenship” (Sahlins, 1967, pp. 72, 76). Sahlins underscored the connections between “scientific functionalism and the natural interest of a leading world power in the status quo” and called attention to the language of contagion and disease in the documents of “Project Camelot,” adding that “waiting on call is the doctor, the US Army, fully prepared for its self-appointed ‘important mission in the positive and constructive aspects of nation-building’” a mission accompanied by “insurgency prophylaxis” (1967, pp. 77–78). At the end of the decade, Current Anthropology published a series of articles on anthropologists’ “social responsibilities,” and Human Organization published a symposium entitled “Decolonizing Applied Social Sciences.” British anthropologists followed suit, as evidenced by Talal Asad's 1973 collection Anthropology and the Colonial Encounter. During the 1980s, authors such as Gothsch (1983) began to address the question of German anthropology's involvement in colonialism. The most recent revival of this discussion was in response to the Pentagon's deployment of “embedded anthropologists” in Afghanistan and elsewhere in the Middle East. The “Network of Concerned Anthropologists” in the AAA asked “researchers to sign an online pledge not to work with the military,” arguing that they “are not all necessarily opposed to other forms of anthropological consulting for the state, or for the military, especially when such cooperation contributes to generally accepted humanitarian objectives … However, work that is covert, work that breaches relations of openness and trust with studied populations, and work that enables the occupation of one country by another violates professional standards” (“Embedded Anthropologists” 2007).3 Other disciplines, notably geography, economics, area studies, and political science, have also started to examine the involvement of their fields with empire.4
The sociology of science and technology, although a lively field (Lynch, 1993; Shapin, 1995; Pinch, 2006), continues to be little taught within American sociology departments. The practitioners are often to be found within interdisciplinary Science and Technology Studies (S&TS) programs and departments. S&TS is a newly emerging discipline. In 2007 for the first time the NRC in the US included it as an “emerging discipline” within its annual ranking exercises. This peculiarly “interdisciplinary discipline” (in other words it has interdisciplinary roots largely in sociology, philosophy, history, political science, law, anthropology, cultural studies, and feminism, but has now formed a sufficiently stable body of canonical works, handbooks, PhD programs, and the like that it is becoming institutionalized as a new discipline in its own right), takes science, technology, and medicine as its object of study and examines its knowledge, practices, and embedding in culture and society using largely humanistic and social science methods. Often the practitioners of S&TS have their first degrees in the sciences or engineering and a higher degree in the humanities and social sciences. Many S&TS departments, as well as teaching their own majors, and offering capstone courses, carry out a service role teaching engineering and science students. These latter students often take S&TS courses to meet humanities distribution requirements. In the past they may have taken courses on Shakespeare and the like but now they look for something a bit more relevant to their careers. Such courses present an unusual opportunity to teach fundamental sociological ideas to scientists and engineers. For these students it is often their first and perhaps only encounter with the world of academic sociology. In this chapter I report on the experiences of developing and teaching one such course, “What is Science?”. I offer this account in the hope that other teachers may benefit from what I have learnt in my 14-year experience of offering this course.
In this introduction, the authors outline some critical reflections on the sociology of knowledge within management and organization theory. Based on a review of various…
In this introduction, the authors outline some critical reflections on the sociology of knowledge within management and organization theory. Based on a review of various works that form a sociology of organizational knowledge, the authors identify three approaches that have become particularly prominent ways by which scholars explore how knowledge about organizations and management is produced: First, reflective and opinion essays that organization studies scholars offer on the basis of what can be learned from personal experience; second, descriptive craft-guides that are based on more-or-less comprehensive surveys on doing research; third, papers based on systematic research that are built upon rigorous collection and analysis of data about the production of knowledge. Whereas in the studies of organizing the authors prioritize the third approach, that is knowledge produced based on systematic empirical research, in examining our own work the authors tend to privilege the other two types, reflective articles and surveys. In what follows the authors highlight this gap, offer some explanations thereof, and call for a better appreciation of all three ways to offer rich understandings of organizations, work and management as well as a fruitful sociology of knowledge in our field.