Several, seemingly unrelated problems of empirical research in the 'sociology of scientific knowledge' can be analyzed as following from initial assumptions with respect to the status of the knowledge content of science. These problems involve: (1) the relation between the level of the scientific field and the group level; (2) the boundaries and the status of 'contexts', and (3) the emergence of so-called 'asymmetry' in discourse analysis. It is suggested that these problems can be clarified by allowing for cognitive (...) factors as independent ('heterogeneous') variables, in addition to and in interaction with (i.e., not only as attributes of) social factors. In the 'sociology of translation', 'heterogeneity' among scientists, cognitions and textual elements has been made a basic assumption. This heterogeneity is bound together in an 'actor network'. However, since the 'actor network' is an empirical category, the methodological problems remain unresolved. This has consequences for the relation between empirical data and theoretical inferences. (shrink)
Drawing upon Marxist, French structuralist and American pragmatist traditions, this lively and accessible introduction to the sociology of knowledge gives to its classic texts a fresh reading, arguing that various bodies of knowledge operate within culture to create powerful cultural dispositions, meanings, and categories. It looks at the cultural impact of the forms and images of mass media, the authority of science, medicine, and law as bodies of contemporary knowledge and practice. Finally, it considers the concept of "engendered knowledge" (...) through a consideration of the complex and often troubled relationship between women and science. The sociology of knowledge has sometimes been marginalized as a narrow academic specialization. This lucid study reclaims it as an essential tool for all serious students of culture in all its forms. (shrink)
This unusually innovative book treats reflexivity, not as a philosophical conundrum, but as a practical issue that arises in the course of scholarly research and argument. In order to demonstrate the concrete and consequential nature of reflexivity, Malcolm Ashmore concentrates on an area in which reflexive "problems" are acute: the sociology of scientific knowledge. At the forefront of recent radical changes in our understanding of science, this increasingly influential mode of analysis specializes in rigorous deconstructions of the research practices (...) and textual products of the scientific enterprise. Through a series of detailed examinations of the practices and products of the sociology of scientific knowledge, Ashmore turns its own claims and findings back onto itself and opens up a whole new era of exploration beyond the common fear of reflexive self-destruction. (shrink)
This book reformulates the sociological subdiscipline known as the sociology of knowledge. Knowledge is presented as more than ideology, including as well false consciousness, propaganda, science and art.
Much of Arnold Hauser’s work on the social history of art and the philosophy of art history is informed by a concern for the cognitive dimension of art. The present paper offers a reconstruction of this aspect of Hauser’s project and identifies areas of overlap with the sociology of knowledge—where the latter is to be understood as both a separate discipline and a going intellectual concern. Following a discussion of Hauser’s personal and intellectual background, as well as of the (...) shifting political and academic setting of his work, the paper addresses one of Hauser’s central questions, viz. how best to square a thoroughgoing commitment to the social nature of art with the reality of successive artistic styles, given that the latter seem to be characterizable on purely formal grounds. This is followed by a discussion of Hauser’s conflicted views on the relation between art, science, and technology. This injects a tension into Hauser’s work, due to his initial reluctance to explain just how the aesthetic and the cognitive realms relate. The final part of the paper, through a closer examination of the analogies and disanalogies that Hauser sees between art history and the history of science, attempts to give a positive answer—“on Hauser’s behalf”, as it were—to the question of whether art may be credited with a specific cognitive dimension of its own, and if so, what its contribution to our cognitive enterprise may consist in. (shrink)
This paper considers the charge that—contrary to the current widespread assumption accompanying the near-universal neglect of his work—Wilhelm Jerusalem (1854–1923) cannot count as one of the founders of the sociology of (scientific) knowledge. In order to elucidate the matter, Jerusalem’s “sociology of cognition” is here reconstructed in the context of his own work in psychology and philosophy as well as in the context of the work of some predecessors and contemporaries. It is argued that while it shows clear (...) discontinuities with the present-day understanding of the sociology of (scientific) knowledge, Jerusalem’s sociology of cognition was not only distinctive in its own day but also anticipated in nuce a much-discussed theme in current history of science. (shrink)
The article presents results of an ongoing study of centers of intellectual innovations in post-Soviet Russia. Using the European University at St. Petersburg as the main object of their analysis, the authors demonstrate how new models of academic careers, which became available in the 1980s and 1990s, were eventually institutionalized as new models of knowledge production and educational practices. Supported by American foundations, this private university had to invent a new institutional structure and to position itself within the field of (...) higher education, still mostly dominated by the state. (shrink)
Mother-blame, the propensity to explain negative outcomes for children by focusing on the failures of mothers, has a long history in the social-scientific study of adolescent deviance. We examine trends in mother-blaming over time by performing a textual analysis of scholarly accounts of the etiology of anorexia nervosa. Our reading of these expert accounts suggests that mother-blaming for child pathology is interconnected with changing ideas about proper social roles for women. Deficient mothering, that is, was often linked to a woman's (...) ambitiousness, willingness to abandon familial duties in favor of careers, or, conversely, her embracement of patriarchal proscriptions for what a woman should be. Poor maternal parenting was a consistent and dominant theme through much of the period we analyzed, however, the structural and cultural explanations appeared to change substance and form in synchrony with prevailing ideas about a woman's rightful relationship to the paid labor market. Other social explanations for changing rhetoric, including the gender composition of published accounts, are also explored. (shrink)
Mother-blame, the propensity to explain negative outcomes for children by focusing on the failures of mothers, has a long history in the social-scientific study of adolescent deviance. We examine trends in mother-blaming over time by performing a textual analysis of scholarly accounts of the etiology of anorexia nervosa. Our reading of these expert accounts suggests that mother-blaming for child pathology is interconnected with changing ideas about proper social roles for women. Deficient mothering, that is, was often linked to a woman''s (...) ambitiousness, willingness to abandon familial duties in favor of careers, or, conversely, her embracement of patriarchal proscriptions for what a woman should be. Poor maternal parenting was a consistent and dominant theme through much of the period we analyzed, however, the structural and cultural explanations appeared to change substance and form in synchrony with prevailing ideas about a woman''s rightful relationship to the paid labor market. Other social explanations for changing rhetoric, including the gender composition of published accounts, are also explored. (shrink)
The focus on discourse and communication in the recent sociology of scientific knowledge offers new perspectives for an integration of qualitative and quantitative approaches in science studies. The common point of interest is the question of how reflexive communication systems communicate. The elaboration of the mathematical theory of communication into a theory of potentially self-organizing entropical systems enables us to distinguish the various layers of communication, and to specify the dynamic changes in these configurations over time. For example, a (...) paradigmatic discourse can be considered as a virtual communication system at the supra-individual level. Communication systems, however, cannot be directly observed. One observes only their instantaneous operations. The reflexive analyst is able to attribute the observed uncertainty to hypothesized systems that interact in the events. The implications of this perspective for various programmes in the sociology of scientific knowledge are discussed. (shrink)
1. The Place of Intellectual Life: The University -- The University as an Institutional Solution to the Problem of Knowledge -- The Alienability of Knowledge in Our So-called Knowledge Society -- The Knowledge Society as Capitalism of the Third Order -- Will the University Survive the Era of Knowledge Management? -- Postmodernism as an Anti-university Movement -- Regaining the University's Critical Edge by Historicizing the Curriculum -- Affirmative Action as a Strategy for Redressing the Balance Between Research and Teaching -- (...) Academics Rediscover Their Soul: The Rebirth of Academic Freedom' -- 2. The Stuff of Intellectual Life: Philosophy -- Epistemology as 'Always Already' Social Epistemology -- From Social Epistemology to the Sociology of Philosophy: The Codification of Professional Prejudices? -- Interlude: Seeds of an Alternative Sociology of Philosophy -- Prolegomena to a Critical Sociology of Twentieth-century Anglophone Philosophy -- Analytic Philosophy's Ambivalence Toward the Empirical Sciences -- Professionalism as Differentiating American and British Philosophy -- Conclusion: Anglophone Philosophy as a Victim of Its Own Success -- 3. The People of Intellectual Life: Intellectuals -- Can Intellectuals Survive if the Academy Is a No-fool Zone? -- How Intellectuals Became an Endangered Species in Our Times: The Trail of Psychologism -- A Genealogy of Anti-intellectualism: From Invisible Hand to Social Contagion -- Re-defining the Intellectual as an Agent of Distributive Justice -- The Critique of Intellectuals in a Time of Pragmatist Captivity -- Pierre Bourdieu: The Academic Sociologist as Public Intellectual -- 4. The Improvisational Nature of Intellectual Life -- Academics Caught Between Plagiarism and Bullshit -- Bullshit: A Disease Whose Cure Is Always Worse -- The Scientific Method as a Search for the (Piled) Higher (and Deeper) Bullshit -- Conclusion: How to Improvize on the World-historic Stage -- Summary of the Argument. (shrink)
The paper focuses on one central aspect of Karl Mannheim’s sociology of knowledge: his exemption of the contents of mathematics and the natural sciences from sociological investigations. After emphasizing the importance of Mannheim’s contribution and his exemption-thesis to the history and development of the field and the problem of relativism, I survey several interpretations of the thesis – especially those put forward by proponents of the so-called ‘Strong Programme’. I argue that these interpretations do not get the philosophical background (...) and impetus of Mannheim’s contribution right. By distinguishing between naturalistic and anti-naturalistic strands in Mannheim’s work I propose a new reading on which Mannheim did not exempt the contents of the areas in question principally or because of a lack of nerve and will. It is argued that Mannheim’s exemption-thesis rather is a consequence of his own sketchy sociological investigations of ‘the paradigm of the natural sciences’. (shrink)
“The Strong Programme” is put forward as a metaphysical theory of sociology by the Edinburgh School (SSK) to study the social causes of knowledge. Barry Barnes and David Bloor are the proponents of the School. They call their programme “the Relativist View of Knowledge” and argue against rationalism in the philosophy of science. Does their relativist account of knowledge present a serious challenge to rationalism, which has dominated 20th century philosophy of science? I attempt to answer this question by (...) criticizing the main ideas of SSK and defending rationalism theories in modern philosophy of science. (shrink)
In the sociology of knowledge, the relationship between society and knowledge —or rather what separates them — remains an unsolved problem. A critical analysis of various solutions that we must look for to this problem suggests the plausibility of a passage between social groups, styles of argumentation and objects of knowledge. An empirical model of “decision displacements” is proposed on the basis of a corpus of texts and of observations derived from concrete analysis of a laboratory situation.
The article presents the sociology of knowledge approach to discourse (SKAD). SKAD, which has been in the process of development since the middle of the 1990s, is now a widely used framework among social scientists in discourse research in the German-speaking area. It links arguments from the social constructionist tradition, following Berger and Luckmann, with assumptions based in symbolic interactionism, hermeneutic sociology of knowledge, and the concepts of Michel Foucault. It argues thereby for a consistent theoretical and methodological (...) grounding of a genuine social sciences perspective on discourse interested in the social production, circulation and transformation of knowledge, that is in social relations and politics of knowledge in the so-called ‘knowledge societies’. Distancing itself from Critical Discourse Analysis, Linguistics, Ethnomethodology inspired discourse analysis and the Analysis of Hegemonies, following Laclau and Mouffe, SKAD’s framework has been built up around research questions and concerns located in the social sciences, referring to public discourse and arenas as well as to more specific fields of (scientific, religious, etc.) discursive struggles and controversies around problematizations (Foucault). (shrink)
After the setbacks suffered in the 1970s as a result of the ‘Lighthill Report’ (Lighthill, 1973), the science of Artificial Intelligence (AI) has undergone a dramatic revival of fortunes in the 1980s. But despite the obvious enormity and complexity of the problems tackled by AI, it still remains rather parochial in relation to the import of alternative though potentially fruitful ideas from other disciplines. With this in mind, the aim of the present paper is to utilise ideas from the (...) class='Hi'>sociology of science in order to explore some current issues in AI and, in particular, the branch of expert systems.It is argued that the sociology of sciences shares a common focus of enquiry along with AI — namely, the nature of knowledge — and has a role to play in the understanding, design and future development of expert systems. (shrink)
When something serves a function, it is easy to overlook its origins. The tendency is to proceed directly to function and retroactively construct a story about origin based on the function it fills. In this article, I address this problem of origins as it appears in the sociology of knowledge, using a case study of the publication of the 3rd edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-III) in 1980. The manual revolutionized American psychiatry and the (...) treatment of mental illness, because it served the function of classification that had become critical to the field of mental health by this time. But this function must be bracketed in order to reveal the “extra-functional” origins of the DSM-III. Using field theory, I argue that the manual was necessary for reasons other than the function it filled as a classification. Specifically, its origin lies in a series of conflicts among psychiatrists, psychoanalysts, and clinical psychologists within the field of mental health, which followed in the wake of the collapse of psychoanalysis as the dominant treatment type for mental illness. I reveal the generative formula behind the production of the DSM-III, capturing a variety of social processes that influenced the format of the manual and made it a useful classification, but which are not reducible to function. In this way, I reproduce its raison d’etre in a manner similar to how the DSM-III appeared for the people who produced it. This focus on generative formulas offers the sociology of knowledge a way to capture the epistemic importance of a range of different social processes. Most importantly, it avoids the functional fallacy of reducing origin to function, and ignoring the idea that innovations might appear necessary even without clear recognition of their functional consequences. (shrink)
Advocates of the "strong programme" in the sociology of knowledge have argued that, because scientific theories are "underdetermined" by data, sociological factors must be invoked to explain why scientists believe the theories they do. I examine this argument, and the responses to it by J.R. Brown (1989) and L. Laudan (1996). I distinguish between a number of different versions of the underdetermination thesis, some trivial, some substantive. I show that Brown's and Laudan's attempts to refute the sociologists' argument fail. (...) Nonetheless, the sociologists' argument falls to a different criticism, for the version of the underdetermination thesis that the argument requires, has not been shown to be true. (shrink)
Epistemology, I will argue, is of crucial importance to the sociology of knowledge not just by way of definition of the phenomenon under study, but also because approaches to the sociology of knowledge rely on too-often implicit epistemological stances. I will make this argument through a series of categorizations: first, I will classify the field of epistemology into its three main forms; second, I will classify the sociology of knowledge into epistemological categories; third, I will classify the (...)sociology of science into these same categories. All the while, I will be making an argument for an empirical epistemology and "agnostic" studies of knowledge. This article does not cover the field of epistemology exhaustively, but tries to offer an orderly overview of classic positions for the benefit of social scientists. (shrink)
Abstract In this paper the basic aim of the so?called ?strong programme? in the sociology of knowledge is examined. The ?strong programme? is considered (and rightly so) as an extreme version of the anti?realist view of science. While the problem of scientific realism has normally been dealt with from the point of view of the ?context of justification? of theories, the paper focuses on the issues raised by law?discovery. In this context Herbert Simon's views about the existence of a (...) ?logic of scientific discovery? are discussed and criticized. The main thesis of the paper is that if the structure of both discovery and prediction is properly understood, then the basic anti?realist claims become untenable. A fortiori, the ?strong programme? appears to be unable to explain some basic features of the structure of science. (shrink)
A basic question confronting programs in the sociology of science is: "Can the thesis that cognitive claims are socially determined be interpreted in a way that preserves the credibility of the sociology of science, when that thesis is reflexively applied to the sociology of science?" That question is approached here by means of a critical comparison of two versions of the "strong programme" in the sociology of knowledge. The key difference is the effort in one (...) of the two versions (B. Barnes') to develop a context within which to articulate the distinction of science and ideology. (shrink)
Advocates of the strong programme in the sociology of knowledge contend that its four defining tenets entail the elimination and replacement tout court of epistemology by strong sociology of knowledge. I advance a naturalistic conception of both substantive and meta-level epistemological inquiry which fully complies with these four tenets and thereby shows that the strong programme neither entails nor even augurs the demise of epistemology.
Business ethics is the study of ethics as it applies to a particular sphere of human activity. As such, business ethics presupposes a difference between an individual's experience within a business organization and his or her experience outside the organization. But how do we examine this difference? How do we discuss an individual's experience of everyday reality? What processes create and sustain this reality, and how does one's version of reality affect what is, and what is not, ethical? This paper (...) outlines an approach to these questions based on theory from the sociology of knowledge, an approach which makes some progress towards making business ethics more existential. The sociology of knowledge, and particularly the social constructionist perspective, is concerned with how an institution creates knowledge and how this knowledge affects the cognitive processes of the individuals who make up the institution. The dialectic nature of the interdependent processes which shape both the individual and the organization are important in understanding how business ethics, as one kind of social knowledge, are enacted. Examining these processes leads to several interesting hypotheses about the nature of both the study and practice of business ethics. XXXOnly individuals have a sense of responsibility. — Friedrich Nietzsche. (shrink)
James Maffie claims that weak continuity reliabilism is compatible with the principles, as well as the insights, of the Strong Programme in the Sociology of Knowledge (SPSK). There are three possible readings of weak continuity reliabilism: I argue that the first two are unsound, while the third is actually inconsistent with the principles of SPSK. SPSK is instead compatible with an identicist epistemology, one that does not aim to distinguish scientific epistemology from our everyday epistemic practice.
This paper proposes a reconsideration of Karl Mannheim and his work from the viewpoint of the needs of sociological theory. It points out certain affinities between Mannheim and some contemporary theorists, such as Gramsci and Foucault, and then reflects on certain problems in Mannheim's work, particularly the response to "relativism" and the hope of creating new "syntheses" through the sociology of knowledge. Finally, it proposes ways to draw on the sociology of intellectuals, inspired by Mannheim, in order to (...) advance the understanding of social theory. (shrink)
This volume comprises original articles by leading authors – from philosophy as well as sociology – in the debate around relativism in the sociology of (scientific) knowledge. Its aim has been to bring together several threads from the relevant disciplines and to cover the discussion from historical and systematic points of view. Among the contributors are Maria Baghramian, Barry Barnes, Martin Endreß, Hubert Knoblauch, Richard Schantz and Harvey Siegel.
(Draft copy published as “Science Made Up: Constructivist Sociology of Scientific Knowledge.” In P. Galison and D. Stump (eds.) The Disunity of Science: Boundaries, Contexts, and Power. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1996, pp. 231-54.).
In this paper I reconstruct the central concept of the young Lukács’s and Mannheim’s sociology of knowledge, as they present it in their writings in the early decades of the twentieth century. I argue that this concept, namely Weltanschauung , is used to refer to some conceptually unstructured totality of feelings, which they take to be a condition of possibility of intellectual production, and this understanding is contrasted to an alternative construal of the term that presents it as logically (...) structured, quasi-theoretical background knowledge. This concept has Kantian reminiscences: it is a condition of possibility of intellectual production in general. The young Mannheim and Lukács rely on ‘ Weltanschauung ’ so understood as a phenomenon mediating between the facts of society and individual intellectual production and reception: it is seen as being conditioned by sociological facts and therefore as a historical and sociological category through which, and therefore indirectly, society enters into intellectual production. (shrink)