Theory and Society

, Volume 40, Issue 5, pp 505-532

First online:

Science and neoliberal globalization: a political sociological approach

  • Kelly MooreAffiliated withDepartment of Sociology, Loyola University-Chicago Email author 
  • , Daniel Lee KleinmanAffiliated withDepartment of Community and Environmental Sociology, University of Wisconsin
  • , David HessAffiliated withDepartment of Sociology, Vanderbilt University
  • , Scott FrickelAffiliated withDepartment of Sociology, Washington State University

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The political ideology of neoliberalism is widely recognized as having influenced the organization of national and global economies and public policies since the 1970s. In this article, we examine the relationship between the neoliberal variant of globalization and science. To do so, we develop a framework for sociology of science that emphasizes closer ties among political sociology, the sociology of social movements, and economic and organizational sociology and that draws attention to patterns of increasing and uneven industrial influence amid several countervailing processes. Specifically, we explore three fundamental changes since the 1970s: the advent of the knowledge economy and the increasing interchange between academic and industrial research and development signified by academic capitalism and asymmetric convergence; the increasing prominence of science-based regulation of technology in global trade liberalization, marked by the heightened role of international organizations and the convergence of scientism and neoliberalism; and the epistemic modernization of the relationship between scientists and publics, represented by the proliferation of new institutions of deliberation, participation, activism, enterprise, and social movement mobilization.


Political sociology of science Scientization New knowledge economy Epistemic modernization Social movements