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The Sociology of Scientific Knowledge Essay examples

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Sociology of Scientific Knowledge is a relatively new addition to sociology, emerging only several decades ago in the late 1970’s, and focuses on the theories and methods of science. It is seen as a notable success within the fields of sociology and sociology of science. In its infancy, SSK was primarily a British academic endeavor. These days, it is studied and practiced all over the world, with heavy influences in Germany, Scandinavia, Israel, the Netherlands, France, Australia, and North America.
David Hess tells us that in science, a black box is any device for which the input and output are specified but the internal mechanisms are not. “Sometimes the study of this content is described as ‘opening a black box’” (Whitley 1972). Advocates of SSK have criticized the Institutional Sociology of Science of leaving a black box of content unopened, and examining only the exogenous, institutional aspects of science and technology. Traditionally, studying the content of science from a sociological perspective had been very controversial.
Hess tells us that one way to characterize this study of the content of science and technology is with constructivism. He succinctly boils down the term and designates it as any approach which attempts to trace the incidences which shape the content of science and technology. However Hess also notes that “one can analyze the social factors that influence the content of scientific knowledge or technological design and yet also conclude that the constraints of observations or efficacy (the real world) play an equal or greater shaping role in what eventually becomes the consensus.” To understand this idea further, we can look at the term “social constructivism.” In simple terms, these are studies which ...


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..., symmetry and impartiality. Collins argues that by studying scientific controversies one can determine how scientific knowledge is created, disseminated, and validated.
There are three main components of the EPOR: Interpretive flexibility where the results of scientific experiments can be interpreted in different ways. Closure mechanisms where debates in science are not closed strictly on the basis of evidence, as this evidence is contested, rather microsociological factors close debates. And the third component implies that microsociological factors can, in principle, be linked to macrosociological factors.


Works Cited

Collins, H.M. 1981 Introduction: Stages in the Empirical Programme of Relativism, Social Studies of Science pp. 3-10
Sismondo, S. 2004 An Introduction to Science and Technology Studies
Hess, D. 1997 Science Studies: An Advanced Introduction


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