In Theories of Science in Society, Cozzens and Gieryn’s have collected an impressive set of contributed chapters detailing major theories in the sociology of science and the sociology of scientific knowledge. These essays present and explicate major sociological theories from Weberian bureaucracy theory and Anthony Giddens’ theory or structuraration, to theories of boundary work and discourse coalitions. This repertoire provides a largely-inclusive sampling of different sociological approaches to science/ scientific knowledge circa 1999.
The included chapters explore two broad issues the authors have loosely titled convergences and divergences. These headings refer to the exploration of sociological issues in science in the case of the former, and exploration of methodological and theoretical issues for stuying science, in the case of the latter. Included under the heading convergences are issues such as: 1)boundaries of science, 2)power, patronage, autonomy, and 3) rhetoric. Issues of divergences include: 1)nomothetic vs. ideographic, 2) reflexivity: involvement or detachment, and 3) units of analysis: structure or action. While this text contains quite a few great chapters, I’ve chosen only to highlight a few issues below (those that are especially relevant to the science-policy interface.)
In Rob Hagendijk’s chapter, “Structuration Theory, Constructivism and Scientific Change,” he explores the interesting concept of the discourse coalition. Discourse coalitions are temporary loci of discursive interchange between otherwise incommensurate groups. This concept maps interesting only to similar science studies concepts like Peter Gallison’s trading zones, and Randy Allen Harris’ pragmatic commensurability. The theory of discourse coalitions was developed in Bjorn Wittrock et al’s (1987) Social Science and the Modern State. This text explores discourse coalitions developed between academic social scientists and policy makers in Europe. These groups with different backgrounds and interests had similar goals in societal construction and so came together in the development of governmental policy.
In “Forms of Patronage,” Stephen P. Turner explores the historical development of different forms of political and economic patronage in Anglo-American science. He traces science from its early days in which financed patronage was the only way of having the capital necessary to engage in scientific exploration, to current government-funded sciences. Turner explores government-funded science though the lens of historical patronage, and is so doing explores the impact of funding sources of trust and bias in the sciences.