Neoliberalism and the History of STS Theory: Toward a Reflexive Sociology

Social Epistemology 27 (2):177 - 193 (2013)
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Abstract

In the sociology of science and sociology of scientific knowledge, the decline of functionalism during the 1970s opened the field to a wide range of theoretical possibilities. However, a Marxist-influenced alternative to functionalism, interests analysis, quickly disappeared, and feminist-multicultural frameworks failed to achieved a dominant position in the field. Instead, functionalism was replaced by a variety of agency-based frameworks that focused on constructive or performative processes. The shift in the sociology of science from Mertonian functionalism to the poststrong program, agency-based sociology of scientific knowledge has parallels with the broader shift in political ideologies from social liberalism to neoliberalism. The argument is made in a way that is cognizant of the criticisms raised against interests analysis and avoids the ?short circuit? of class imputation. Instead, the approach defends the potential for a more integrated approach to the structure-agency-meaning triangle in STS via the use of field sociology

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