"Condemned to Footnotes": Marxist Scholarship in the History of Science

Science and Society 60 (1):7 - 26 (1996)
From its inception, the academic study of the history of science and technology has been contested terrain in the debate over whether science and capitalism are in fundamental conflict. Marxist writers such as Boris Hessen, Nikolai Bukharin, and J. D. Bernal raised these issues against the backdrop of the Great Depression of the 1930s, and writers such as Dirk Struik, Bernhard Stern and Henry Sigerist applied this work to American science. This combined body of work influenced Robert Merton's work "Science, Technology and Society in Seventeenth Century England". However, in the 1950s, questions about the social aspects of science were dropped in favor of a radical idealist approach to the history of science. The situation reversed in the late 1960s and early 1970s, when once again historians and sociologists rediscovered and extended the investigation of the politics and social relations of science.
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