Bloor, Latour, and the field

The debate between Bloor and Latour is based on a fundamental misunderstanding due to too narrow a view of what Bloor calls 'the field'. The boundaries of this 'field' are not defined by the sociological analysis of the content of science: SSK and Latour do not share the same object of study. Latour's approach marks a shift from the social determinants of scientific knowledge to the ontological labour performed by scientific activity. The research on the science/society interface has generated two approaches. Some works tackle the social factors which determine science. Their object is society in science. Other works address the social role of science. Their object of study is science in society. The difference in the way SSK and Latour look at science is an incarnation of this division. A re-conceptualization of 'the field' based on the acknowledgement of these two objects is perhaps the only way to allow for a diversity of approaches in the study of the science/society interface.
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    D. Bloor (1999). Anti-Latour. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 30 (1):81-112.
    Jane Freimiller (1998). Unnatural Discourse. Social Theory and Practice 24 (2):283-299.
    M. Friedman (1998). On the Sociology of Scientific Knowledge and its Philosophical Agenda. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 29 (2):239-271.

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