Science in Context (SCI CONTEXT )

Publisher: Cambridge University Press


Science in Context is devoted to the study of the sciences from the points of view of comparative epistemology and historical sociology of scientific knowledge. The journal is committed to an interdisciplinary approach to the study of science and its cultural development - it does not segregate considerations drawn from history philosophy and sociology. Controversies within scientific knowledge and debates about methodology are presented in their contexts.

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  • Website
    Science in Context website
  • Other titles
    SIC, science in context
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  • Material type
    Periodical, Internet resource
  • Document type
    Journal / Magazine / Newspaper, Internet Resource

Publisher details

Cambridge University Press

  • Pre-print
    • Author can archive a pre-print version
  • Post-print
    • Author can archive a post-print version
  • Conditions
    • On authors personal or departmental web page or institutional repository or PubMed Central
    • Pre-print to record acceptance for publication
    • Publisher copyright and source must be acknowledged
    • Must link to publisher version
    • Authors version may be deposited immediately on acceptance
    • Publishers version/PDF may be used on authors personal or departmental web page any time after publication
    • Publishers version/PDF may be used in an institutional repository or PubMed Central after 12 month embargo
    • Articles in some journals can be made Open Access on payment of additional charge
    • If funding agency rules apply, authors may post articles in PubMed Central 12 months after publication or use Cambridge Open Option
    • Permission (not to be unreasonably withheld) needs to be sought if the author is at a different institution to when the article was originally published.
  • Classification
    ​ green

Publications in this journal

  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: In the 1920s there were still very few fossil human remains to support an evolutionary explanation of human origins. Nonetheless, evolution as an explanatory framework was widely accepted. This led to a search for ancestors in several continents with fierce international competition. With so little fossil evidence available and the idea of a Missing Link as a crucial piece of evidence in human evolution still intact, many actors participated in the scientific race to identify the human ancestor. The curious case of Homo gardarensis serves as an example of how personal ambitions and national pride were deeply interconnected as scientific concerns were sometimes slighted in interwar palaeoanthropology.
    Science in Context 06/2014; 27(2):359-83.
  • Science in Context 06/2014; 27(2):307-31.
  • Science in Context 06/2014; 27(2):249-74.
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    ABSTRACT: The major catalyst of Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky’s work in economics was the behavioral economics program of the Sloan and Russell Sage Foundations, which ran from 1984 to 1992. The paper first introduces the Sloan and Sage foundations and the background of the main protagnists involved. Subsequently, it explores the behavioral economics program from start to finish.
    Science in Context 06/2012; 25(2):263-86.
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    ABSTRACT: The Germans occupying Paris arrested Emile Borel and three other members of the Académie des Sciences in October 1941 and released them about five weeks later. Drawing on German and French archives and other sources, we argue that these events illustrate the complexity of the motivations and tactics of the occupiers and the occupied. While Borel and his colleagues were genuine members of the Resistance, and those who arrested them were full participants in a brutal occupation, both sides respected a bargain, of no small importance to the Vichy regime, that allowed the university to pursue its work if its members avoided overt acts of opposition.
    Science in Context 12/2011; 24(4):587-623.
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    ABSTRACT: We expand upon the notion of the "credibility cycle" through a study of credibility engineering by the food industry. Research and development (R&D) as well as marketing contribute to the credibility of the food company Unilever and its claims. Innovation encompasses the development, marketing, and sales of products. These are directed towards three distinct audiences: scientific peers, regulators, and consumers. R&D uses scientific articles to create credit for itself amongst peers and regulators. These articles are used to support health claims on products. However, R&D, regulation, and marketing are not separate realms. A single strategy of credibility engineering connects health claims to a specific public through linking that public to a health issue and a food product.
    Science in Context 12/2011; 24(4):487-515.
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    ABSTRACT: From 1924 to 1948, developmental psychologist Arnold Gesell regularly used photographic and motion picture technologies to collect data on infant behavior. The film camera, he said, records behavior "in such coherent, authentic and measurable detail that ... the reaction patterns of infant and child become almost as tangible as tissue." This essay places his faith in the fidelity and tangibility of film, as well as his use of film as evidence, in the context of developmental psychology's professed need for legitimately scientific observational techniques. It also examines his use of these same films as educational material to promote his brand of scientific child rearing. But his analytic techniques - his methods of extracting data from the film frames - are the key to understanding the complex relationship between his theories of development and his chosen research technology.
    Science in Context 09/2011; 24(3):417-42.
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    ABSTRACT: Film scholars have long posed the question of the specificity of the film medium and the apparatus of cinema, asking what is unique to cinema, how it constrains and enables filmmakers and audiences in particular ways that other media do not. This question has rarely been considered in relation to scientific film, and here it is posed within the specific context of cell biology: What does the use oftime-based media such as film coupled with the microscope allow scientists to experience that other visualization practices do not? Examining three episodes in the twentieth-century study of the cell, this article argues that the apparatus ofmicrocinematography constitutes what might be thought of as a technical portal to another world, a door that determines the experience of the world that lies on the other side of it. In this case, the design of apparatuses to capture time-lapsed images enabled the acceleration of cellular time, bringing it into the realm of human perception and experience. Further, the experience of the cellular temporal world was part of a distinct kind of cell biology, one that was focused on behavior rather than structure, focused on the relation between cells, and between the cell and its milieu rather than on cell-intrinsic features such as chromosomes or organelles. As such, the instruments and technical design of the microcinematographic apparatus may be understood as a kind of materialized epistemology, the history of which can elucidate how cinema was and is used to produce scientific knowledge.
    Science in Context 09/2011; 24(3):381-416.
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    ABSTRACT: Discussions of the scientific uses of moving-image technologies have emphasized applications that culminated in static images, such as the chronophotographic decomposition of movement into discrete and measurable instants. The projection of movement, however, was also an important capability of moving-image technologies that scientists employed in a variety of ways. Views through the microscope provide a particularly sustained and prominent instance of the scientific uses of the moving image. The category of "education" subsumes theses various scientific uses, providing a means by which to bridge the cultures of scientific and popular scientific moving images.
    Science in Context 09/2011; 24(3):361-80.
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    ABSTRACT: This essay considers the work of projection and the hand of the projectionist as important components of the social space of the cinema as it comes into being in the nineteenth century and the early decades of the twentieth. I bring the concept ofMaurice Merleau-Ponty on the place of the body as an entity that applies itself to the world "like a hand to an instrument" into a discussion of the pre-cinematic projector as an instrument that we can interpret as evidence of the experience of the work of the projectionist in the spirit of film theory and media archaeology, moving work on instrumentation in a different direction from the analysis of the work of the black box in laboratory studies. Projection is described as a psychological as well as a mechanical process. It is suggested that we interpret the projector not simply in its activity as it projects films, but in its movement from site to site and in the workings of the hand of its operator behind the scenes. This account suggests a different perspective on the cinematic turn of the nineteenth century, a concept typically approached through the study of the image, the look, the camera, and the screen.
    Science in Context 09/2011; 24(3):443-64.
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    ABSTRACT: In 1895 when the Lumière brothers unveiled their cinematographic camera, many scientists were elated. Scientists hoped that the machine would fulfill a desire that had driven research for nearly half a century: that of capturing the world in its own image. But their elation was surprisingly short-lived, and many researchers quickly distanced themselves from the new medium. The cinematographic camera was soon split into two machines, one for recording and one for projecting, enabling it to further escape from the laboratory. The philosopher Henri Bergson joined scientists, such as Etienne-Jules Marey, who found problems with the new cinematographic order. Those who had worked to make the dream come true found that their efforts had been subverted. This essay focuses on the desire to build a cinematographic camera, with the purpose of elucidating how dreams and reality mix in the development of science and technology. It is about desired machines and their often unexpected results. The interplay between what "is" (the technical), what "ought" (the ethical), and what "could" be (the fantastical) drives scientific research.
    Science in Context 09/2011; 24(3):329-59.
  • Science in Context 09/2011; 24(3):311-28.
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    ABSTRACT: Standards of botanical practice in Sweden between 1850 and 1950 were set, not only in schools and universities, but also in naturalist societies and botanical exchange clubs, and were articulated in handbooks and manuals produced for schoolboys. These standards were maintained among volunteer naturalists in the environmental movement in the 1970s, long after the decline and disappearance of collecting from the curriculum. School science provides a link between the laboratory, the classroom, and the norms and practices of everyday life: between the various insides" and "outsides" of educational and research settings.
    Science in Context 06/2011; 24(2):239-58.
  • Science in Context 06/2011; 24(2):127-41.
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    ABSTRACT: By the mid-eighteenth century, governors of the major European states promoted the study of nature as part of natural-resource based schemes for improvement and economic self-sufficiency. Procuring beneficial knowledge about nature, however, required observers, collectors, and compilers who could produce usable and useful descriptions of nature. The ways governments promoted scientific explorations varied according to the form of government, the makeup of the civil society, the state's economic ideologies and practices, and the geographical situation. This article argues that the roots of a major natural history initiative in Denmark-Norway were firmly planted in the state-church organization. Through the clergymen and their activities, a bishop, supported by the government in Copenhagen, could gather an impressive collection of natural objects, receive observations and descriptions of natural phenomena, and produce natural historical publications that described for the first time many of the species of the north. Devout naturalists were a common species in the eighteenth century, when clergymen and missionaries involved themselves in the investigation of nature in Europe and far beyond. The specific interest here is in how natural history was supported and enforced as part of clerical practice, how specimen exchange was grafted on to pre-existing institutions of gift exchange, and how this influenced the character of the knowledge produced.
    Science in Context 06/2011; 24(2):143-66.
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    ABSTRACT: A number of issues related to vaccines and vaccinations in society are discussed in this paper. Our purpose is to merge an analysis of some recent changes in the vaccine market with social science research on the relationship between citizens and authorities. The article has two empirical parts. The first shows how the vaccine market, which for many years has had immense financial problems, nowadays seems to becoming economically vitalized, mostly due to the production of new and profitable vaccines. However prosperous the future may appear, certain reactions from the public regarding vaccination initiatives offer insight into inherent problems of vaccine policies in many Western countries. In the second part of the article, these problems are exemplified with the recent controversy over the MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) vaccine. We conclude that in spite of the improving profit-margins, the vaccine market remains vulnerable and insecure. Vaccines are permeated by society, even more so than pharmaceutics that are used to cure or alleviate illnesses. Radical changes in financial conditions with promises of a more profitable market will not, we argue, solve other even more fundamental problems.
    Science in Context 03/2011; 24(1):107-25.
  • Science in Context 12/2010; 23(4):581-6.
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    ABSTRACT: We examine the creation and functioning of the "Pasteur Institute in Palestine" focusing on the relationship between biological science, health policy, and the creation of a "new society" within the framework of Zionism. Similar to other bacteriological institutes founded by colonial powers, this laboratory was developed in response to public health needs. But it also had a political role. Dr. Leo Böhm, a Zionist physician, strived to establish his institution along the lines of the Zionist aspiration to develop a national entity based on strong scientific foundations. Even though the institute enjoyed several fruitful years of operation, mainly during World War I, it achieved no lasting national or scientific importance in the country. Böhm failed to adapt to new ways of knowledge production, scientifically and socially. The case study of the "Pasteur Institute in Palestine" serves as a prism to view the role of the public health laboratory in the history of Palestine with its ongoing changes of scientific, organizational, and political context.
    Science in Context 12/2010; 23(4):401-25.
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    ABSTRACT: Few chapters in the historiography of psychoanalysis are as densely packed with trans-cultural, ideological, institutional, and moral issues as the coming of psychoanalysis to Jewish Palestine--a geopolitical space which bears some of the deepest scars of twentieth-century European, and in particular German, history. From the historical as well as the critical perspective, this article reconstructs the intricate connections between migration, separation and loss, continuity and new beginning which resonate in the formative years of psychoanalysis in pre-state Israel.
    Science in Context 12/2010; 23(4):473-506.

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