Skip to main content

Advertisement

Log in

Science and neoliberal globalization: a political sociological approach

  • Published:
Theory and Society Aims and scope Submit manuscript

Abstract

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.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this article

Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.

Instant access to the full article PDF.

Similar content being viewed by others

References

  • Albert, M. (2003). Universities and the market economy: the differential impact of knowledge production in sociology and economics. Higher Education, 45(2), 147–182.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Allen, B. (2003). Uneasy alchemy: citizens and experts in Louisiana’s chemical corridor disputes. Cambridge: MIT.

    Google Scholar 

  • Association for University Technology Managers. (2000). Licensing survey, FY2000: Full report. Deerfield: Association of University Technology Managers.

    Google Scholar 

  • Barns, I. (1995). Manufacturing consensus: Reflections on the UK national consensus conference on plant biotechnology. Science as Culture, 12, 199–216.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Barreda, A. (2003). Biopiracy, bioprospecting, and resistance: Four cases in Mexico. In T. A. Wise, H. Salazar, & L. Carlsen (Eds.), Confronting globalization: Economic integration and popular resistance in Mexico. Sterling: Kumarian.

    Google Scholar 

  • Berman, E. P. (2008). The politics of patent law and its material effects: The changing relationship between universities and the marketplace. In T. Pinch & R. Swedberg (Eds.), Living in a material world: Economic sociology meets science and technology studies (pp. 191–213). Cambridge: MIT.

    Google Scholar 

  • Biermann, F. (2002). Institutions for scientific advice: Global environmental assessments and their influence in developing countries. Global Governance, 8(2), 195–219.

    Google Scholar 

  • Bonnano, A., & Constance, D. (2007). Agency and resistance in the sociology of agriculture and food. In W. Wright & G. Midderndorf (Eds.), Food fights (pp. 29–43). University Park: Penn State University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Bonnano, A., & Constance, D. (2008). Stories of globalization: Transnational corporations, resistance, and the state. College Park: Penn State University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Boroush, M. (2008). New Estimates of National R&D Expenditures Show 5–8% Growth in 2007. (www.nsf.gov/statistics/infbrief/nsf08317, accessed January 21, 2009).

  • Bourdieu, P. (2001). Science of science and reflexivity. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Bourdieu, P. (2005). The social structures of the economy. Malden: Polity.

    Google Scholar 

  • Brown, P. (2007). Toxic exposures: Contested illnesses and the environmental health movement. New York: Columbia University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Brown, P., McCormick, S., Mayer, B., Zavestoski, S., Morello-Frosh, R., Gasior-Altman, R., et al. (2006). A Lab of Our Own: Environmental causation of breast cancer and challenges to the dominant epidemiological paradigm. Science, Technology and Human Values, 31, 499–536.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Brown, P., & Zavestoski, S. (Eds.). (2007). Social movements and health. London: Blackwell.

    Google Scholar 

  • Busch, L., & Bain, C. (2004). The transformation of the global agrifood system. Rural Sociology, 69(3), 321–346.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Buttel, F., & Gould, K. (2004). Global social movement(s) at the crossroads: Some observations on the trajectory of the anti-corporate globalization movement. Journal of World Systems Research, 10(1), 37–66.

    Google Scholar 

  • Campbell, J., & Pederson, O. (Eds.). (2001). The rise of neoliberalism and institutional analysis. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Castells, M. (1996). The information age: Economy, society, and culture. Volume 1. The rise of the network society. Oxford: Blackwell.

    Google Scholar 

  • Chase-Dunn, C., & Hall, T. (1997). Rise and demise: Comparing world systems. Boulder: Westview.

    Google Scholar 

  • Clark, A. (1998). Disciplining reproduction: Modernity, American life sciences, and ‘the problems of Sex’. Berkeley: University of California Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Clarke, A., Shim, J. K., Shostak, S., & Nelson, A. (2009). Biomedicalising genetic health, diseases and identities. In P. Atkinson, P. Glasner, & M. Lock (Eds.), The handbook of genetics and society: Mapping the new genomic era. New York: Routledge.

    Google Scholar 

  • Colyvas, J., & Powell, W. (2007). From vulnerable to venerated: The institutionalization of academic entrepreneurship in the life sciences. Research in the Sociology of Organizations, 25, 219–259.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Cohen, L. (2003). A Consumer’s republic: The politics of consumption in postwar America. New York: Knopf.

    Google Scholar 

  • Conroy, M. (2007). Branded! How the ‘Certification Revolution’ is transforming global corporations. Gabriola Island: New Society.

    Google Scholar 

  • Croissant, J., & Smith-Doerr, L. (2007). Organizational contexts of science: Boundaries and relationships between university and industry. In J. Wajcman, E. Hackett, O. Amsterdamska, & M. Lynch (Eds.), The handbook of science and technology studies (pp. 691–718). Cambridge: MIT.

    Google Scholar 

  • Davis, M. (2006). Planet of slums. London: Verso.

    Google Scholar 

  • Della Porta, D., & Tarrow, S. (Eds.). (2005). Transnational protest and global activism: People, passions, and power. Lanham: Rowman and Littlefield.

    Google Scholar 

  • DiMaggio, P. J., & Powell, W. (1983). The iron cage revisited: institutional isomorphism and collective rationality in organizational fields. American Sociological Review, 48, 147–160.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Donoghue, F. (2008). The last professors: The corporate university and the fate of the humanities. Bronx: Fordham University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Duggan, L. (2004). The twilight of equality? Neoliberalism, cultural politics, and the attack on democracy. Boston: Beacon.

    Google Scholar 

  • DuPuis, M. E., & Goodman, D. (2005). Should we go ‘home’ to eat? Toward a reflexive politics of localism. Journal of Rural Studies, 21, 359–371.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Edelman, R. (2008). Edelman Trust Barometer 2008. (www.edelman.co.uk/files/trust-barometer-2008.pdf. Accessed January 21, 2009).

  • Epstein, S. (1996). Impure science: AIDS, activism, and the politics of knowledge. Berkeley: University of California Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Etzkowitz, H., Webster, A., & Healy, P. (1998). Capitalizing knowledge: New intersections of industry and academia. Albany: State University of New York Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Ferguson, J. (2006). Global shadows: Africa in the neoliberal world order. Durham: Duke University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Forman, P. (1987). Behind quantum electronics: national security as a basis for physical research in the U.S., 1940–1960. Historical Studies in the Physical Sciences, 18, 149–229.

    Google Scholar 

  • Foucault, M. (2008). The birth of biopolitics: Lectures at the college de France, 1978–1979. London: Palgrave-Macmillan.

    Google Scholar 

  • Fournier, M., Germain, A., Yves, & Maheu, L. (1975). The scientific field of Quebec: structure, functioning, and functions. Sociologie et Societes, 7, 119–132.

    Google Scholar 

  • Frickel, S. (2004). Chemical consequences: Environmental mutagens, scientist activism, and the rise of genetic toxicology. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Frickel, S. (2010). Shadow mobilizations for environmental health and justice. In J. Banaszak-Holl, S. Levitsky, & M. N. Zald (Eds.), Social movements and the transformation of U.S. health care (pp. 171–187). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

    Chapter  Google Scholar 

  • Frickel, S. (2011). Who are the expert activists of environmental health justice? In B. Cohen & G. Ottinger (Eds.), Engineers, scientists, and environmental justice: Transforming expert cultures through grassroots engagement. Cambridge: MIT (in press).

    Google Scholar 

  • Frickel, S., & Moore, K. (Eds.). (2006). The new political sociology of science. University of Wisconsin Press.

  • Frickel, S., Gibbon, S., Howard, J., Kempner, J., Ottinger, G., & Hess, D. (2010). Undone science: charting social movement and civil society challenges to research agenda settings. Science, Technology, and Human Values, 35(4), 444–473.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Friedman, M. (1970). The social responsibility of business is to increase its profits. New York Times Magazine, September 13, p. 32.

  • Gautney, H., Dahbour, O., Dawson, A., & Smith, N. (2009). Democracy, states, and the struggle for global justice. New York: Routledge.

    Google Scholar 

  • Gibbons, M., Limoges, C., Nowotny, H., Schwartzman, S., Scott, P., & Trow, M. (1994). The new production of knowledge: The dynamics of science and research in contemporary societies. London: Sage.

    Google Scholar 

  • Habermas, J. (1970). Toward a rational society: Student protest, science, and politics. Trans. by Jeremy Shapiro. Boston: Beacon Press.

  • Halfon, S. (2010). Confronting the WTO: intervention strategies in GMO adjudication. Science, Technology & Human Values, 35, 307–329.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Haufler, V. (2001). A public role for the private sector: Industry self-regulation in a global economy. Washington: Carnegie Endowment.

    Google Scholar 

  • Haufler, V. (2006). Global governance and the private sector. In C. May (Ed.), Global corporate power (pp. 95–105). Boulder: Lynne Rienner.

    Google Scholar 

  • Harvey, D. (2005). A brief history of neoliberalism. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Hayden, C. (2003). When nature goes public: The making and unmaking of bioprospecting in Mexico. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Hayden, C. (2007). Taking as giving: Bio-science, exchange, and the politics of benefit sharing. Social Studies of Science, 37, 729–758.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Hendrickson, M. K., & Heffernan, W. D. (2002). Opening spaces through relocalization: Locating potential resistance in the weaknesses of the global food system. Sociologia Ruralis, 42(4), 347–369.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Hess, D. (2007). Alternative pathways in science and industry. Cambridge: MIT.

    Google Scholar 

  • Hess, D. (2009a). Localist movements in a global economy. Cambridge: MIT.

    Google Scholar 

  • Hess, D. (2009b). The potentials and limitations of civil society research: Getting undone science done. Sociological Inquiry, 79(3), 306–327.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Hess, D. (2010). The environmental, health, and safety implications of nanotechnology: environmental organizations and undone science in the United States. Science as Culture, 19(2), 181–214.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Hessen, B. (1971). The social and economic roots of Newton’s principia. New York: Howard Fertig.

    Google Scholar 

  • Hirst, P., & Thompson, G. (1999). Globalization in question: The international economy and the possibilities of governance (2nd ed.). Malden: Blackwell/Oxford.

    Google Scholar 

  • Jasanoff, S. (2004). Ordering knowledge, ordering society. In S. Jasanoff (Ed.), States of knowledge: The coproduction of science and social order. London: Routledge.

    Chapter  Google Scholar 

  • Jasanoff, S. (2007). Designs on nature: Science and democracy in Europe and the United States. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Keck, M., & Sikkink, K. (1998). Activists beyond borders. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Kevles, D. (1997). The physicists: The history of a scientific community in modern America. New York: Vintage.

    Google Scholar 

  • Kinchy, A. (2010). Anti-genetic engineering activism and scientized politics in the case of ‘Contaminated’ Mexican maize. Agriculture and Human Values, 27(4), 505–517.

    Google Scholar 

  • Kinchy, A., Kleinman, D. L., & Autry, R. (2008). Against free markets, against science? Regulating the socio-economic effects of biotechnology. Rural Sociology, 73(2), 147–180.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • King, B., & Soule, S. A. (2007). Social movements as extra-institutional entrepreneurs: The effect of protest on stock price returns. Administrative Science Quarterly, 52(3), 413–442.

    Google Scholar 

  • Kingsbury, B., Krisch, N., & Stewart, R. B. (2005). The emergence of global administrative law. Law and Contemporary Problems, 68(3–4), 15–61.

    Google Scholar 

  • Klawiter, M. (2008). The biopolitics of breast cancer: Changing cultures of disease and activism. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Kleinman, D. L. (2003). Impure cultures: University biology at the millennium. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Kleinman, D. L. (2010). The commercialization of academic culture and the future of the university. In H. Radder (Ed.), The commodification of academic research: Science and the modern university (pp. 24–43). Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Kleinman, D. L., & Kinchy, A. J. (2003). Why ban bovine growth hormone? Science, social welfare, and the divergent biotech policy landscapes in Europe and the United States. Science as Culture, 12(3), 375–414.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Kleinman, D. L., & Kinchy, A. J. (2007). Against the neoliberal steamroller? The biosafety protocol and the social regulation of agricultural biotechnology. Agriculture and Human Values, 24(2), 195–206.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Kleinman, D. L., & Vallas, S. (2001). Science, capitalism, and the rise of the ‘knowledge worker’: the changing structure of knowledge production in the United States. Theory and Society, 30, 451–492.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Kleinman, D. L., Powell, M., Grice, J., Adrian, J., & Lobes, C. (2007). A toolkit for democratizing science and technology policy: the practical mechanics of organizing a consensus conference. Bulletin of Science, Technology, and Society, 27(2), 154–169.

    Google Scholar 

  • Knorr-Cetina, K., & Mulkay, M. (Eds.). (1983). Science observed. Beverly Hills: Sage.

    Google Scholar 

  • Levidow, L., & Carr, S. (2009). GM food on trial: Testing European democracy. London: Routledge.

    Google Scholar 

  • Lind, A. (Ed.). (2010). Development, sexual rights and global governance. New York: Routledge.

    Google Scholar 

  • Lindne, L. F. (2008). Regulating food safety: the power of alignment and drive towards convergence. Innovation: The European Journal of Social Science Research, 21, 133–143.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Livermore, M. (2006). Authority and legitimacy in global governance: Deliberation, institutional differentiation, and the Codex Alimentarius. New York University Law Review, 81, 766–801.

    Google Scholar 

  • Marginson, S., & Considine, M. (2000). The enterprise university: Power, governance, and reinvention in Australia. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • McCormick, S. (2009). Mobilizing science: Movements, participation, and the remaking of knowledge. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • McMichael, P. (2000). Development and social change: A global perspective. Thousand Oaks: Pine Forge.

    Google Scholar 

  • Merton, R. (1973). The sociology of science. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Miller, C. (2004). Climate science and the making of global political order. In S. Jasanoff (Ed.), States of knowledge (pp. 46–66). London: Routledge.

    Google Scholar 

  • Moore, K. (2008). Disrupting science: Social movements, American scientists, and the politics of the military, 1945–1975. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Mushita, A., & Thompson. C. (2008). Agricultural Biodiversity: African alternatives to a ‘Green Revolution.’ Development 488–495.

  • Nelson, A. (2011). Body and soul: The Black Panther Party and the fight against medical discrimination. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

  • Noble, D. (1977). America by design: Science, technology, and the rise of corporate capitalism. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Ong, A. (2006). Neoliberalism as exception: Mutations in citizenship and sovereignty. Durham: Duke University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Ottinger, G. (2010). Buckets of resistance: standards and the effectiveness of citizen science. Science, Technology, & Human Values, 35(2), 244–270.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Owen-Smith, J. (2005). Dockets, deals, and sagas: commensuration and the rationalization of experience in university licensing. Social Studies of Science, 35(1), 69–97.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Peck, J., & Tickel, A. (2002). Neoliberalizing space. Antipode, 34(3), 380–404.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Pellow, D. N. (2007). Resisting global toxics: Transnational movements for environmental justice. Cambridge: MIT.

    Google Scholar 

  • Portes, A. (1994). When more can Be less: Labor standards, development, and the informal economy. In C. Rakowski (Ed.), Contrapunto: The informal sector debate in Latin America (pp. 113–129). Albany: SUNY.

    Google Scholar 

  • Portes, A., & Roberts, B. (2005). The free-market city: Latin American urbanization in the years of the neoliberal experiment. Studies in Comparative International Development, 40(1), 43–82.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Post, D. (2005). Standards and regulatory capitalism: the diffusion of food safety standards in developing countries. Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Sciences, 598, 168–183.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Powell, W., Owen-Smith, J., & Colyvas, J. (2007). Innovation and emulation: lessons from the experiences of U.S. universities in selling private rights to public knowledge. Minerva, 45, 121–142.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Rabinow, P. (1996). Making PCR: A story of biotechnology. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Routledge, P., Nativel, C., & Cumbers, A. (2006). Entangled logics and grassroots imaginaries of global justice networks. Environmental Politics, 15(5), 839–859.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Sassen, S. (2000). Cities in a world economy: Sociology for a new century. Thousand Oaks: Pine Forge/Sage.

    Google Scholar 

  • Schmitt, J. (2000). Inequality and globalization: Some evidence from the United States. In D. Kalb, M. van der Lind, R. Staring, B. van Steenbergen, & N. Wilterdink (Eds.), The ends of globalization (pp. 157–168). Lanham: Rowman and Littlefield.

    Google Scholar 

  • Seifert, F., & Torgersen, H. (1997). How to keep out what we don’t want: an assessment of ‘Sociolverträglichkeit’ under the Austrian Genetic Engineering Act. Public Understanding of Science, 6(4), 301–327.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Schurman, R., & Munro, W. (2004). Fighting frankenfoods: industry structures and the efficacy of the anti-biotech movement in Western Europe. Social Problems, 51(2), 243–268.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Sklair, L. (2001). The transnational capitalist class. Oxford: Blackwell.

    Google Scholar 

  • Slaughter, S., & Leslie, L. (1997). Academic capitalism: Politics, policies, and the entrepreneurial university. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Slaughter, S., & Rhoades, G. (2004). Academic capitalism and the new economy: Markets, state, and higher education. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Smith, J., & Bandy, J. (Eds.). (2005). Coalitions across borders: Transnational protest and the neoliberal order. Boulder: Rowman & Littlefield.

    Google Scholar 

  • Smith-Doerr, L. (2004). Women’s work: Gender equality vs. hierarchy in the life science. Boulder: Lynne Rienner.

    Google Scholar 

  • Stehr, N. (2002). Knowledge and economic conduct: The social foundations of the modern economy. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Steigerwald, D. (2006). All hail the republic of choice: consumer history as contemporary thought. Journal of American History, 93, 385–403.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Stiglitz, J. (2007). Making globalization work. W.W. Norton.

  • Strathern, M. (Ed.). (2000). Audit cultures: Anthropological studies in accountability, ethics, and the academy. London and New York: Routledge.

    Google Scholar 

  • Swyngedouw, E. (2005). Governance innovation and the citizen: The Janus face of governance-beyond-the-state. Urban Studies, 42(11), 1991–2006.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Szasz, A. (2007). Shopping our way to safety. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Valdiya, S. (2010). Neoliberal Reform and Biomedical Research in India: Globalization, Industrial Change, and Science. Ph.D. dissertation, Science and Technology Studies Department, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

  • Vallas, S. P., & Kleinman, D. L. (2008). Contradiction, convergence, and the knowledge economy: the co-evolution of academic and commercial biotechnology. Socio-Economic Review, 6(2), 283–311.

    Google Scholar 

  • Vogel, D. (2008). Private global business regulation. Annual Review of Political Science., 11, 261–282.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Weber, E. (2003). Bringing society back in: Grassroots ecosystem management, accountability, and sustainable communities. Cambridge: MIT Press.

  • Weber, K., Thomas, L. G., & Rao, H. (2009). From streets to suites: how the anti-biotech movement penetrated German pharmaceutical firms. American Sociological Review, 74(2), 106–127.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Winickoff, D. E., & Bushey, D. (2010). Science and power in global food regulation: the rise of Codex Alimentarius. Science. Technology and Human Values, 35(3), 356–381.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Winickoff, D., Jasanoff, S., Busch, L., Grove-White, R., & Wynne, B. (2005). Adjudicating the GM food wars: science, risk, and democracy in world trade Law. The Yale Journal of International Law, 30(1), 82–123.

    Google Scholar 

  • Winter, M. (2003). Embeddedness, the new food economy and defensive localism. Journal of Rural Studies, 19(1), 23–32.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Wood, L. J. (2005). Bridging the chasms: the case of People’s Global Action. In J. Smith & J. Bandy (Eds.), Coalitions across borders (pp. 95–117). Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield.

    Google Scholar 

  • Wood, L. J., & Moore, K. (2002). Target practice: Community activism in a global era. In R. Hayduk & B. Shepard (Eds.), From ACT UP to the WTO: Urban protest and community building in an era of globalization. New York: Verso.

    Google Scholar 

  • Wright, W., & Midderndorf, G. (Eds.). (2007). Food fights: Producers, consumers, and activists challenge the global food system. University Park: Penn State University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Wynne, B. (2005). Risk as globalizing ‘Democratic’ discourse? Framing subjects and citizens. In M. Leach, I. Scoones, & B. Wynne (Eds.), Science and citizens: Globalization and the challenge of engagement (pp. 66–82). London: Zed.

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Kelly Moore.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Moore, K., Kleinman, D.L., Hess, D. et al. Science and neoliberal globalization: a political sociological approach. Theor Soc 40, 505–532 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11186-011-9147-3

Download citation

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11186-011-9147-3

Keywords

Navigation