, 49:295 | Cite as

Field Analysis and Interdisciplinary Science: Scientific Capital Exchange in Behavior Genetics

  • Aaron L. PanofskyEmail author


This paper uses Pierre Bourdieu’s field theory to develop tools for analyzing interdisciplinary scientific fields. Interdisciplinary fields are scientific spaces where no single form of scientific capital has a monopoly and therefore multiple forms of scientific capital constitute the structures and stakes of scientific competition. Scientists compete to accumulate and define forms of scientific capital and also to set the rates of exchange between them. The paper illustrates this framework by applying it to the interdisciplinary field of behavior genetics. Most behavior geneticists envision their participation in the field as a means to compete for scientific capital in other fields. However, the scientific capital of behavior genetics has different values for scientists attempting to deploy it in different neighboring fields. These values depend on situations in each field and the ways behavior genetics mediates relationships among them. The pattern of relationships of exchange helps explain the social hierarchy and several features of knowledge production within behavior genetics.


Bourdieu Field theory Scientific capital Interdisciplinary science Behavior genetics Knowledge production 



I would like to thank Mathieu Albert, Daniel Kleinman, and two reviewers whose suggestions improved this paper. This research was supported by the National Science Foundation (SES 0328563).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.UCLA Department of Public Policy and Center for Society and GeneticsLos AngelesUSA

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