Scientific Communication and Cognitive Codification: Social Systems Theory and the Sociology of Scientific Knowledge

European Journal of Social Theory 10 (3):375-388 (2007)
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The intellectual organization of the sciences cannot be appreciated sufficiently unless the cognitive dimension is considered as an independent source of variance. Cognitive structures interact and co-construct the organization of scholars and discourses into research programs, specialties, and disciplines. In the sociology of scientific knowledge and the sociology of translation, these heterogeneous sources of variance have been homogenized a priori in the concepts of practices and actor-networks. Practices and actor-networks, however, can be explained in terms of the self-organization of the cognitive code in scientific communication. The code selects knowledge claims by organizing them operationally in the various discourses; the claims can thus be stabilized and potentially globalized. Both the selecting codes and the variation in the knowledge claims remain constructed, but the different sub-dynamics can be expected to operate asymmetrically and to update with other frequencies.



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