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Sociological ambivalence and the order of scientific knowledge

Arribas-Ayllon, Michael ORCID: and Bartlett, Andrew 2014. Sociological ambivalence and the order of scientific knowledge. Sociology 48 (2) , pp. 335-351. 10.1177/0038038513477937

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Merton’s early work on the ambivalence of scientists illustrates the productivity of importing a psychological concept to sociology. For commentators on the experience of modern societies, ambivalence describes the contradictory affective dimension of late modernity. In this article, our aim is to understand the extent to which sociological ambivalence reveals the contradictory relations between two orders of scientific knowledge: the epistemic and the social order. We illustrate several sorts of ‘value tensions’ in psychiatric genetics, a domain where the search for biological causes has led to several important shifts in scientific reasoning. For scientists working at a major UK research centre, we show how these tensions have transformed the organization of the scientific community; ambivalence is both a reflexive and uncomfortable response to a new way of producing knowledge. We argue that tension and ambivalence are intrinsic aspects of science-making and may reflect processes other than revolution and totalizing transformation.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Social Sciences (Includes Criminology and Education)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Q Science > Q Science (General)
Uncontrolled Keywords: ambivalence; psychiatric genetics; scientific knowledge; transformation; value tensions
Additional Information: Online publication date: 18 November 2013.
Publisher: SAGE Publications
ISSN: 0038-0385
Last Modified: 10 Dec 2022 02:53

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