Soc3061 lecture 04
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SOC3061 - Lecture 04. The Sociology of Scientific Knowledge (SSK). David Bloor, Barry Barnes (The Edinburgh School). Knowledge as a natural phenomenon “Knowledge” = collectively endorsed beliefs SSK focuses on the distribution of knowledge (how it is produced, transmitted, criticised, etc.)

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SOC3061 - Lecture 04

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Soc3061 lecture 04

SOC3061 - Lecture 04

The Sociology of Scientific Knowledge (SSK)


David bloor barry barnes the edinburgh school

David Bloor, Barry Barnes (The Edinburgh School)

Knowledge as a natural phenomenon

“Knowledge” = collectively endorsed beliefs

SSK focuses on the distribution of knowledge (how it is produced, transmitted, criticised, etc.)

Against the view that rational beliefs are self-explanatory


Soc3061 lecture 04

A theory of knowledge that is:

Concrete (vs. formal, abstract)

Naturalistic (vs. normative)

Communitarian (vs. methodological individualism)

Knowledge as a collective possession of a society or a group within a society. It is transmitted as part of their tradition and sustained by their collective authority. The creation of knowledge and its use is not understandable in abstract logical terms but rather in relation to the practices of specific actors in specific contexts.


The strong programme bloor 1976

“The Strong Programme” (Bloor, 1976)

1. CAUSALITY: causes of belief, social and non-social

2. IMPARTIALITY: both true and false, rational and irrational beliefs require an explanation

3. SYMMETRY: in the style of explanation of both true and false beliefs (same type of causes)

4. REFLEXIVITY: the same kind of explanation is applicable to SSK itself.


Soc3061 lecture 04

Relativism = all beliefs are equal with repect to the causes of their credibility. These causes are specific, local, contingent.

Truth = not an explanatory notion.

True/false, rational/irrational = context-bound evaluation, internal to a cultural system.

Evidence = means something only within a context of assumptions


Soc3061 lecture 04

Systems of classification

Concept application

The SSK is built upon a “finitist” approach to the theory of meaning: every instance of concept application, in our everyday life as in science, is essentially contingent and context-bound.


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