Comments on disciplines and interactive agenda setting
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Comments on „disciplines and interactive agenda-setting“. Dietmar Braun IEPI, Université de Lausanne. Two paradigms. Scientific enterprise as a functionally differentiated activity > internal - external perspective Contextual - Constructivist View. What have we learnt until now?.

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Comments on „disciplines and interactive agenda-setting“

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Comments on disciplines and interactive agenda setting

Comments on „disciplines and interactive agenda-setting“

Dietmar Braun

IEPI, Université de Lausanne


Two paradigms

Two paradigms

  • Scientific enterprise as a functionally differentiated activity > internal - external perspective

  • Contextual - Constructivist View


What have we learnt until now

What have we learnt until now?

  • Finalisation thesis and others: cognitive opening and closure of disciplines play a role

  • Institutional environment has influence (which must still be better specified)

  • Networks, especially the density of networks with the environment matters

  • Career opportunities may be important entry point for non-academic interests (but we do not know how institutions and careers interact to shape the research agenda)


What have we learnt until now1

What have we learnt until now?

  • Disciplines differ in their orientation towards application (example psychology vs. anthropology)

  • Internally, disciplines may be structured into “core” and “peripheries”. The last ones may be suitable contact points for the environment

  • Topics and fields of enquiry seem better connected to the environment than theory and methods

  • Reputation and reward are useful categories but we do not know exactly how it works

  • Audiences seem important (but influence still to be developed)


What do we not know yet

What do we not know yet?

  • When which variable matters and to what degree

  • Are there hierarchies in importance between factors?

  • Lack of general theory binding the different elements

  • Lack of a clear systematic ordering of factors


My intention

My intention

  • Bring some order into the „narrative“ by using a “utilitarian” framework, which means actually re-interpreting the findings

  • Three questions:

    • When do new topics appear on the disciplinary agenda?

    • When are non-academic priorities integrated in the disciplinary research agenda?

    • How to establish interactive agenda-setting and make it work?


When do new topics appear on the disciplinary agenda

When do new topics appear on the disciplinary agenda?

  • Rephrasing it: When are scientists attracted to new topics/ theories/ methods?

  • Function of rational decisions of individual scientists structured by the academic field („champs“ : Bourdieu) and the availability of resources

  • Innovation is rewarded by constrained by:

    • Utility in terms of pay-offs for position, career

    • Transaction costs

    • Reputation mechanisms of discipline


The disciplinary champ

The disciplinary “champ”

Capital

High

Promising

for

application

Theoretically

promising

Capital

Low


Distribution of capital

Distribution of capital

Capital

High

Promising

for

application

Theoretically

promising

Capital

Low


And when do they disappear

…and when do they disappear?

  • Fashion and trends in the setting-up of the research agenda

  • Diffusion theory is helpful

  • New topics depend on:

    • Marginal utility of investments in existing research field

    • Degree of competition in existing area

    • Degree of “deprivation” of scientist

    • Transaction costs

    • Probability of recognition by discipline


Attention curve for new disciplinary topics

Attention-curve for new disciplinary topics

Number of scientists

Time


Putting non academic priorities on the disciplinary agenda

Putting non-academic priorities on the disciplinary agenda

Distance

(3)

(4)

Promising

for

application

Theoretically

promising

(1)

(2)

Proximity


Comments on disciplines and interactive agenda setting

…..

(1) No problem to integrate topic (as long as mentioned conditions are fulfilled). But be aware: Topic is appropriated by scientists and may not result in problem-solving: Theoretical development first.


Comments on disciplines and interactive agenda setting

(2) Additional conditions needed:

  • applicable knowledge is there

  • Time is available

  • There is no conflict with the reputation cycle of scientist: e.g. scientists with high level of scientific capital and secure career position. No elimination of reputation cycle: juxtaposition (second “audience”)

    What about disciplinary differences?


Comments on disciplines and interactive agenda setting

(3) A topic falling into this field may be interesting for disciplines but the transaction costs are usually too high to invest. It is here that incentives play a role: long-term investments (centre instrument for example). Again, problem-solving may be far away in the future.


Comments on disciplines and interactive agenda setting

(4) This is the most difficult field. Not attractive in disciplinary terms and high transaction costs. Again, this needs a lot of incentives and even the creation of new career paths (interdisciplinary etc.) to put topic on the scientific agenda. As skills must be developed this may again take some time before problem-solving is at hand.


Boundary objects

Boundary objects

The most attractive would be “boundary objects” that could be used both ways: to foster theory-building and application

Distance

Boundary

object

Promising

for

application

Theoretically

promising

Boundary

object

Proximity


How to establish interactive agenda setting and make it work

How to establish interactive agenda-setting and make it work?

Non-academic topics may appear on the disciplinary agenda in four ways:

  • by academic “screening”

  • By focusing resources in certain areas

  • By occasional meetings between users and scientists (“one-shot interaction”)

  • By common practice


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