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Knowledge Domains & Communities of Practice. Science & Technology Social Sciences. the nature of knowledge. realist. social. Science & Technology Social Sciences. Realist nature of knowledge: world is completely objective (pure realism)

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knowledge domains communities of practice

Knowledge Domains & Communities of Practice

Science & TechnologySocial Sciences

science technology social sciences
Science & TechnologySocial Sciences
  • Realist nature of knowledge: world is completely objective (pure realism)
  • Social nature of knowledge: there is no foundation to knowledge apart from the perception of humans (purely socially determined)

science objectively establishes truth, but does not control the context in which the scientific discovery will assist in the creation of knowledge

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  • If scientific truth is objective, it is also blind because it ignores the social context in which knowledge is circulated
  • How individuals’ beliefs are formed is based on information supplied by others
      • social nature of knowledge
      • may be contentious regarding the nature of ‘truth’
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  • Scientific data may be used / misused:
      • to justify social stratification and prejudice
      • so that certain groups will appear to be inferior (e.g. behavioral research, studies of heredity and human behavior, genetics, race and IQ, psychobiology, or sociobiology)
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  • S/R: Standards of evidence are not hopelessly culture-bound, though judgements of justification are always perspectival (e.g. knowledge is truth-indicative but not absolute)
  • Knowledge is built through the perspectives of disciplines (processes of cultural selection, institutional arrangements that shape knowledge)
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  • Important to understand how disciplines structure knowledge
  • Disciplinary domains are formed by communities of practice
  • how do they circulate information?
  • what are the rules of engagement?
  • need to recognize the social structure of research
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  • Knowledge entails cognitive effort within communities
  • Communities form consensus based on:
      • attribution of authority
      • division of opinion
  • Scholarly journals = public mechanism for:
      • establishing a knowledge base of the field
      • selecting what is to be communicated in the field
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  • Knowledge claims form an important part of journals’ content
  • Knowledge claims based on:
      • Epistemology: logical argument, testimony, empirical evidence
      • Rhetoric:persuasion
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Journal content analysis: reliability & attribution)

  • Reliability:
      • Source of the claim (speaker)
      • Bodies of evidence supporting claims
      • Perspectival processes shaped by social forces (gender, national origin, social structures of scholarship and research - does it embrace multiple perspectives on which knowledge claims are based)
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Science & TechnologySocial Sciences

Journal content: reliability & attribution)

  • Attribution (realized through citation of published work):
      • epistemic (new idea is incorporated)
      • procedural (author’s work is cited as proof that researcher has that knowledge -- association)
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  • Information policy literature (Rowland)
  • ISI citation indexes to define document test collection
  • Assumption: authors interact with existing knowledge through referencing behavior (use of the accumulating body of recorded literature)
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Science & TechnologySocial Sciences
  • Accumulation of a body of recorded literature varies according to subject area (how older materials are incorporated in more recent publication through citation)
      • Science and technology: select nucleus of specific journals; brief span of time covering a few current years
      • Social sciences & humanities: greater dispersion of publications in different forms, on different subjects & over a comparatively long span of time
      • Ephemeral vs. classical literature
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Science & TechnologySocial Sciences
  • Comte (1798-1857) taxonomy of sciences
      • science (physics, biochemistry)
      • soft science (social science)
      • non-science (humanities)
  • Price (1970) - Price’s index
      • how references are distributed over an archive of material
      • hard sciences cite works in the last 6 years
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  • Cole (1983)
      • fundamental differences bw disciplines lie not in citation habits but in the structure of their knowledge systems (cognitive)
      • how empirical knowledge is codified into succinct and interdependent theoretical statements
  • Cozzens (1985)
      • periods of intellectual focus
      • reception - obsolescence of literature
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  • Bradford (1934)
      • core ‘zones’
      • core - scatter determine the structure of knowledge in a discipline (older, institutionalized have core)
  • Nadel (1980)
      • catholicity of interests is a function of the maturity of a specialty (institutionalization level)
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  • Other observations
      • less / highly structured or specialized disciplines: people read widely outside their own current areas of concern (arts and humanities - information from a wide variety of sources)
      • co-authoring: sciences (apparatus for experimentation); social sciences (division of labor as strategy); humanities (coauthoring not practiced)
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  • Other observations
      • degree of institutionalization (professional associations, specialist journals)
      • institutional arrangements support & encourage research
      • debates over establishment of new forms of institutional knowledge and established academic fields