'Knowledge as communication: a review of recent literature on method and theory' [Review] Bent Flyvberg (2000) Making social science matter: why social inquiry fails and how it can succeed again; Helga Nowotny, Peter Scott and Michael Gibbons (2001) Knowledge and the public in an age of uncertainty; Peter Wagner (2001) Theorizing modernity

Delanty, Gerard (2002) 'Knowledge as communication: a review of recent literature on method and theory' [Review] Bent Flyvberg (2000) Making social science matter: why social inquiry fails and how it can succeed again; Helga Nowotny, Peter Scott and Michael Gibbons (2001) Knowledge and the public in an age of uncertainty; Peter Wagner (2001) Theorizing modernity. International Journal of Social Research Methodology, 5 (1). pp. 83-90. ISSN 1364-5579

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Abstract

A pervasive tendency in the social sciences over the last few decades is an interest in a communicative concept of knowledge. In a whole range of recent developments, science is becoming increasingly conceived as a communicative system that interacts reflexively with society. In the extreme version this is the view that there is ultimately no difference between the forms of knowledge embodied in science and in society. While positions on the relation between science and society differ, it is becoming more and more apparent that the alternative to positivism and scientism is not a highly normative critique or a special status for scientific knowledge. That science might be a form of human communication goes against some of the fundamental assumptions of modernist science, for since the Enlightenment a belief dear to modern science is the inherent superiority of science over all other forms of knowledge. This self-legislating conception of scientific knowledge ran counter to the idea of science as communication simply because the republic of science and the life-world were incommensurable. Scientific knowledge existed for its own sake or for the community of scientists and if it had a public role it was not one that had much to do with communication. In short, science could enlighten society but could not be enlightened by the non-scientific. Today it is a different matter: science is coming increasingly to be seen as a form of social action, responsive to social context, and exhibiting a new reflexive capacity that is illustrated in new science and society links. However, as the books reviewed in this essay reveal, these new links are not entirely new but have been part of social science for a long time. Wagner’s book is written primarily with epistemological issues in mind, Flyvbjerg’s concerns are more methodological, and the co-authored book by Nowotny, Scott and Gibbons, while addressing epistemological issues, is more focused on the changing institutional context of science in an age of uncertainty.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of Law, Politics and Sociology > Sociology
Depositing User: Library Cataloguing
Date Deposited: 30 May 2012 11:47
Last Modified: 01 Dec 2016 17:37
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/39473
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