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The Conceptualization of Scientific Specialties

Daryl E. Chubin
The Sociological Quarterly
Vol. 17, No. 4 (Autumn, 1976), pp. 448-476
Published by: Wiley on behalf of the Midwest Sociological Society
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4105548
Page Count: 29
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The Conceptualization of Scientific Specialties
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Abstract

This paper analyzes the phenomenon of research specialization in science. The format consists of two sections. The first features a state-of-the-art review of evidence from so-called specialty case studies on definitions, measurement strategies, and representations of the relations in which small groups of researchers cohere. In the second section, a theoretical perspective on the development of specialties is formulated. This perspective incorporates demographic factors into the study of specialty structures and processes, and suggests in particular that core researchers derive innovations from the margins of their specialty. It is further hypothesized that both maintenance and realignment of social structures, i.e., communication and status configurations, depend on intellectual events that occur in the course of normal scientific progress. Finally, the notions of intellectual migration as a career research style and the prevalence of transient specialties lacking institutionalized bases are explored and recommended, among others, for empirical study.

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