Research in Science Education

, Volume 28, Issue 1, pp 119–132 | Cite as

Sociologics: An analytical tool for examining socioscientific discourse

  • Renée-Marie FountainEmail author
Discourse About the Nature of Science and Scientific Knowledge


Latour (1987) introduced the framework of sociologics to study the construction, accumulation, and mobilisation of knowledge in the face of controversy by means of unpredictable and heterogeneous networks. The framework centres around five questions: How are causes and effects attributed? What points (ideas) are linked to which other? What are the size and strength of these links? Who are the most legitimate spokespersons? and How are the elements in a network modified during the controversy? Latour calls the method of deriving answers to these five questions “sociologics”. Recognising the usual asymmetry of knowledge production, sociologics is concerned with how some knowledge is rendered more credible and powerful than others. The production of knowledge is considered contentious because knowledge is socially constructed in a world where discourse, politics, knowledge, and power are inextricably related. I argue that the framework of sociologics extends commonly used analytical frameworks in socioscientific research in education as, unlike many previous forms of analysis, sociologics foregrounds the social construction of knowledge (as evidenced in discourse) and highlights the contentious, complex, unpredictable, and dynamic nature of knowledge production prevalent in these issues.


Analytical Framework Knowledge Production Social Construction Toxic Waste Actor Network Theory 
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Copyright information

© Australian Science Research Association 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Curriculum and InstructionUniversity of WisconsinMadisonUSA

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