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Österreichische Zeitschrift für Soziologie

, Volume 40, Issue 3, pp 327–346 | Cite as

Research cultures as an explanatory factor

  • Jochen GläserEmail author
  • Jana Bielick
  • Robert Jungmann
  • Grit Laudel
  • Eric Lettkemann
  • Grit Petschick
  • Ulla Tschida
Hauptbeiträge

Abstract

In this article, we explore the potential of culture as an explanatory concept, using the sociology of science as an example. We first argue for a concept of culture that is sufficiently narrow to represent specific factors influencing human actions, and also propose such a concept. We then demonstrate that specific cultural assumptions can be derived from observations of researchers’ practices and subsumed to our concept of culture by analysing Knorr-Cetina’s comparison of epistemic cultures in high energy physics and molecular biology (Epistemic cultures: How the sciences make knowledge. 1999). In a third step, we use our own empirical material to discuss cases in which cultural factors contribute to explanations of researchers’ behaviour. We conclude that cultural factors are rarely needed as contributions to multicausal explanations of research actions. If they are required, our approach provides a workable solution in the form of heuristic guidance in the search for cultural assumptions, a framework for comparing cultures and a basis for integrating cultural assumptions with other influences on action.

Keywords

Research cultures Sociological explanations Research practices High energy physics Molecular biology 

Forschungskulturen als Erklärungsfaktor

Zusammenfassung

Das Ziel des Artikels besteht darin, das Potenzial des Kulturbegriffs in soziologischen Erklärungen am Beispiel der Wissenschaftssoziologie zu erkunden. Wir zeigen zunächst, dass ein zu Erklärungen beitragender Kulturbegriff eng genug sein muss, um spezifische Einflussfaktoren auf menschliches Handeln zu repräsentieren, und schlagen einen solchen Begriff vor. Wir benutzen diesen Begriff in einer Sekundäranalyse von Knorr-Cetinas Buch über epistemische Kulturen (Epistemic cultures: How the sciences make knowledge. 1999), in der wir aus Beobachtungen der Praktiken von Hochenergiephysikern und Molekularbiologen deren spezifische kulturelle Annahmen rekonstruieren. In einem dritten Schritt nutzen wir Fälle aus eigenen empirischen Studien, um mögliche Beiträge kultureller Faktoren zur Erklärung des Verhaltens von Wissenschaftlern zu diskutieren. Aus diesen Schritten lässt sich die Schlussfolgerung ziehen, dass kulturelle Faktoren nur selten zu Erklärungen des Forschungshandelns beitragen. Wenn sie herangezogen werden müssen, dann bietet unser Herangehen eine Heuristik für die Suche nach kulturellen Annahmen, einen Vergleichsrahmen für Forschungskulturen und eine Grundlage für die Integration von kulturellen Annahmen mit anderen handlungsbeeinflussenden Faktoren.

Schlüsselwörter

Forschungskulturen Soziologische Erklärungen Forschungspraktiken Hochenergiephysik Molekularbiologie 

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Copyright information

© Springer Fachmedien Wiesbaden 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jochen Gläser
    • 1
    Email author
  • Jana Bielick
    • 2
  • Robert Jungmann
    • 2
  • Grit Laudel
    • 2
  • Eric Lettkemann
    • 2
  • Grit Petschick
    • 2
  • Ulla Tschida
    • 1
  1. 1.Zentrum Technik und Gesellschaft, HBS1Technische Universität BerlinBerlinGermany
  2. 2.Institut für SoziologieTechnische Universität BerlinBerlinGermany

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