, Volume 47, Issue 2, pp 171-194

First online:

Boundary-Work in the Health Research Field: Biomedical and Clinician Scientists’ Perceptions of Social Science Research

  • Mathieu AlbertAffiliated withWilson Centre, University of Toronto Email author 
  • , Suzanne LabergeAffiliated withDépartement de kinésiologie, Université de Montréal
  • , Brian D. HodgesAffiliated withWilson Centre, University of Toronto

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Funding agencies in Canada are attempting to break down the organizational boundaries between disciplines to promote interdisciplinary research and foster the integration of the social sciences into the health research field. This paper explores the extent to which biomedical and clinician scientists’ perceptions of social science research operate as a cultural boundary to the inclusion of social scientists into this field. Results indicated that cultural boundaries may impede social scientists’ entry into the health research field through three modalities: (1) biomedical and clinician scientists’ unfavourable and ambivalent posture towards social science research; (2) their opposition to a resource increase for the social sciences; and (3) clinician scientists procedural assessment criteria for social science. The paper also discusses the merits and limitations of Tom Gieryn’s concept of boundary-work for studying social dynamics within the field of science.


Boundary-work Culture Health research Interdisciplinary research Scientific field Symbolic boundary