Alex Soojung-Kim Pang, Ph.D.

I study people, technology, and the worlds they make

Scientific communities and networks

This probably just reveals my ignorance, but: have any historians of science made use of the literature on social networks and open exchange systems– e.g., Woody Powell’s work on networks, Yochai Benkler’s studies of open source, etc.?

Heaven knows there’s tons of stuff written on scientific communities, and lots of work that talk about networks; but when historians of science say “networks,” they usually mean “people who know each other” or “people who are linked together in some way” or “people who share some common goals, and work together to reach them.”

I’ve been reading Powell’s “Neither Markets nor Hierarchies,” and it strikes me that one could profitably think about scientific communities as networks in the way that Powell describes– or perhaps, as sometimes organizing into networks (e.g. amateur astronomers) and hierarchies (e.g. astronomers at Greenwich). Maybe.

Just a thought.

1 Comment

  1. It’s not work I’ve followed up myself, but this guy seems to be doing something similar to what you intimated

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