Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS


Draw the Line! International Conference, Copenhagen 2008 - Papers, proceedings and recommendations

Project ID: 518048
Funded under: FP6-SOCIETY


Are universities workplaces like any other? In 1942, the sociologist Robert Merton formulated a set of ideals for these particular workplaces (see note 5, pages 47 and 48). Scientists explained to Merton that science should be governed by norms which emphasize humility, willingness to share and openness to all scientists, irrespective of gender, skin colour or social status, who will benefit the development of an objective science. Even in Merton's own writings these norms were described as ideals (Merton 1942). Many years later, a senior physicist told the anthropologist Sharon Traweek that Merton's description corresponded to 'an adolescent fantasy' (Traweek 1988, 80). Through numerous studies, the field of science and technology studies (STS) has shown that science is formed in the amalgamation of human desires, exclusions and prize fighting, rather than a transparent system that rewards the skilful, competent and masterful with high honours and positions. In the words of Pierre Bourdieu: "The 'pure' universe of even the 'purest' science is a social field like any other, with its distribution of power and its monopolies, its struggles and strategies, interests and profits, but it is a field in which all these invariants [original italics] take on specific forms" (Bourdieu 1999, 31).

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