SSK – Sociology of Scientific Knowledge, a.k.a. Social Studies of Knowledge


Previous to SSK:

Internalist” accounts – strictly rational, technical. The “black box.”

“Externalist  accounts not about content of science itself, merely its social “context” --about institutions, funding, personnel etc.


Thus a “biased science” theory could explain how the Mertonian norms of scientific objectivity could be violated by external influence. This means that social forces only introduce error; that science operates best when it is pure, social-free objectivity.


But SSK claims there is no rigid internal/external boundary; that science is “thoroughly” social.


A.     Predecessors  

a.      from Political Theory

Marx and Freud (19th, early 20) à Frankfurt School (Adorno, Horkheimer, Benjamin; 1920s-50s) à Habermas, Marcuse (1960s-70s)


b.     from Sociology

Ludwig Fleck, Karl Manheim, Boris Hessen (1930s)


c.      from Psychology

Lev Vygotsky (1920s)




B.     Social Construction

a.      Edinburgh School:

                                                  i.      Strong Programme: David Bloor

                                                ii.      Interests Analysis: Barry Barnes, David Edge, Donald MacKenzie.


b.     Bath School

                                                  i.      EPOR: Harry Collins


C.    Social-Technical Co-Construction (my term)

a.      Boundary Objects (Star and Griesemer)

b.     Actor-Network Theory (Latour)

c.      Non-human actants (Latour, Callon, Haraway)