Disciplining Experts

  title={Disciplining Experts},
  author={Charles R. Thorpe},
  journal={Social Studies of Science},
  pages={525 - 562}
  • C. Thorpe
  • Published 1 August 2002
  • Political Science
  • Social Studies of Science
In 1954, J. Robert Oppenheimer, who had emerged from World War II as America's foremost scientific advisor to government, faced a security hearing which stripped him of his security clearance and barred him from government work. This paper provides a novel interpretation of this event and its significance by arguing that the hearing exposed fundamental and endemic tensions in the place of science in liberal democratic politics. Science's image of impersonal objectivity makes it useful to the… 

Expertise and Political Responsibility: The Columbia Shuttle Catastrophe

One of the major conflicts between the principles of democratic politics and the practical reality of expertise in public decision making takes place in connection with responsibility. The basic

Science and Its Discontents

This excellent work, a major contribution both to the political history of mid twentieth century America and to the sociology of science, explores the self-critical, activist role of science—and

There's Power in the Blood : Religion, White Supremacy, and the Politics of Darwinism in America

Author(s): Bolar, Richard Allen | Abstract: America's contentious relationship to Darwinism is often inadequately viewed as the product of religious reaction or educative failure. I argue that

Transnational Professional Activism and the Prevention of Nuclear War in Britain

  • C. Laucht
  • Political Science
    Journal of social history
  • 2018
The concept of “transnational professional activism” is introduced to describe the ways in which scientific and medical professionals organized themselves into national interest groups situated within wider transnational networks in order to act against the perceived threat that nuclear war posed to human society.

Multicultural settler colonialism and indigenous struggle in Hawai'i: The politics of astronomy on Mauna a Wakea

This dissertation argues the struggle over Mauna Kea is emblematic of the larger struggle over Hawaiʻi. This is not a struggle for equality, participation, money, or recognition, but is instead a


  • C. Laucht
  • Political Science
    The Historical Journal
  • 2015
ABSTRACT This article uses the debate over environmental and human health effects of nuclear testing to shed light on the ambivalent relationship between scientists, the public, and the state in

Science, Technology and the Military: Priorities, Preoccupations and Possibilities

The relationships between science, technology and the military have been an important topic of public and political debate throughout the twentieth, and into the twenty-first, centuries (Edgerton,

When Boundary Organisations Fail: Identifying Scientists and Civil Servants in L’Aquila Earthquake Trial

ABSTRACT Notwithstanding the alleged crisis of expertise, scientists increasingly act as expert advisors to governments, while organisations at the boundary between science and policy multiply.

The Theatre of Scientific Advice

Two-decade’s worth of sociological and STS literature reporting the decline of expert authority in Western cultures, particularly that of scientists and engineers, provides the theoretical backdrop to these questions.

Scientific authority in policy contexts: Public attitudes about environmental scientists, medical researchers, and economists

Analysis of attitudes about the amount of influence that environmental scientists, two kinds of medical researchers, and economists should have over policy decisions reveals that in each discipline the extent to which scientists are thought to serve the nation’s best interests is the strongest determinant of attitude about scientists as policy advisors.



American Science in an Age of Anxiety: Scientists, Anticommunism and the Cold War

No professional group in the United States benefitted more from World War II than the scientific community. After the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, scientists enjoyed unprecedented

Science against modernism: the relevance of the social theory of Michael Polanyi.

  • C. Thorpe
  • Art
    The British journal of sociology
  • 2001
Polanyi's relevance for social theory is explicated, through a comparison with Weber's essay 'Science as a Vocation', and an understanding of the personal dimensions of trust and authority in science suggests practical limits to the position of Giddens on the disembedding of social relations and on the scepticism and reflexivity of modernity.

A Fragile Power: Scientists and the State

When the National Science Foundation funds research about the earth's crust and the Department of Energy supports studies on the disposal of nuclear wastes, what do they expect for their money? Most

Quantification and the Accounting Ideal in Science

Objectivity in science has normally been defined by scholars as almost synonymous with realism. It may be advantageous to think of it instead in terms of impersonality, an ideal that would replace

From Truth to Disinterestedness in the Seventeenth Century

Words have social as well as lexical meanings. This paper traces a semantic shift of the word `objective', and the issues arising from it, in the seventeenth century. A word attaching to the concept

Scientists Protect their Cognitive Authority: The Status Degradation Ceremony of Sir Cyril Burt

Our inquiry begins with an observation by historian M.D. King, put forth in 1971 and then widely ignored: The sociologist…must discover the sources of scientific authority and the manner of its

Objectivity and the Escape from Perspective

Scientific objectivity is neither monolithic nor immutable: our current usage is compounded of several meanings - metaphysical, methodological and moral - and each meaning has a distinct history, as

Chain Reaction: Expert Debate and Public Participation in American Commercial Nuclear Power, 1945-1975

Acknowledgments 1. Professionalisation and politics in twentieth-century America: from fission to fusion 2. The promise of the proministrative state: nuclear experts and national politics, 1945-1947

The Coming of Post-Industrial Society, a venture in Social Forecasting

In 1976, Daniel Bell's historical work predicted a vastly different society developing--one that will rely on the "economics of information" rather than the "economics of goods." Bell argued that the