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Beyond Deference and Demystification in the Sociology of Science and Technology: A Reply to Otero

Frederick H. Buttel
Sociological Forum
Vol. 6, No. 3 (Sep., 1991), pp. 567-577
Published by: Springer
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/684519
Page Count: 11
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Beyond Deference and Demystification in the Sociology of Science and Technology: A Reply to Otero
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Abstract

A response to Otero's criticism of the thesis of the nonrevolutionary character of biotechnology is developed within a larger consideration of the relatively small amount of attention high technologies have received within the sociology of science. It is argued that the "new sociology of science" of the past decade has been a major advance on midcentury functionalist perspectives that took an essentialist, deferential view toward science. The new sociology of science, based on the demystification of science through a relativist view of scientific knowledge production, is nonetheless limited in several respects in its applicability to contemporary issues relating to high technologies. Otero's criticisms are considered in the light of the continuing need for uniting the sociology of science and sociology of technology, and for developing a perspective on science and technology that avoids both uncritical deference and excessive relativization of these forces for social change.

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