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Modern Science as a Social Problem

Sal Restivo
Social Problems
Vol. 35, No. 3, Special Issue: The Sociology of Science and Technology (Jun., 1988), pp. 206-225
DOI: 10.2307/800619
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/800619
Page Count: 20
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Modern Science as a Social Problem
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Abstract

In the social sciences as elsewhere, modern science is widely assumed to be a successful and progressive enterprise. Sociologists of science tend to be science advocates, and students of social problems implicitly treat science as a "healthy" institution. Science critics are often opposed to "distorted" versions of science but not to "true" science. A few social critics, however, have argued that modern science is the product of an alienated human spirit and a factor in rather than a solution to our individual and social problems. In line with this perspective, I draw on C. Wright Mills's conception of the Science Machine and related ideas to argue that modern science is a social problem. This argument is grounded in a constructivist (but not relativist) view of science and scientific knowledge, critiques of the myth of pure science and the idea of scientific progress, and an assessment of the limits of science criticism (including feminist criticism).

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