Three Cultural Boundaries of Science, Institutions, and Public Policy: A Theory of Co-Production
73 Pages Posted: 13 Jul 2012 Last revised: 13 Jul 2014
Date Written: 2012
In Cultural Boundaries of Science (1999), Thomas Gieryn provides many examples of the ways in which the boundaries among science, institutions, and public policy are culturally constructed. But, because he uses a “thickly described” atheoretical account of culture, Gieryn is not able to identify different kinds of cultural boundaries of science nor can he explain why these boundaries are constructed when and where they are. This paper uses Sheila Jasanoff’s concept of co-production and Mary Douglas’s cultural theory to identify four recurring states of knowledge, specifying political cultural conditions for the co-production of science, institutions, and public policy and the co-production of scientific, cultural, institutional, and policy change. Then, re-casting Douglas’s cultural theory as a theory involving three critical social and institutional boundaries – demarcating collectives, divisions within hierarchical organizations, and the personal space of individuals – this paper shows how members of political subcultures use pollution and purity claims to align themselves and the domain of science with scientists whose constructs of nature are functional for their preferred social and institutional relations, while excluding scientists from subcultures and from the domain of science whose constructs are not functional for those relations. The plausibility of this theory is illustrated with examples from the cultural co-production of the boundaries of science surrounding forest and wildlife science and management in the Pacific Northwest.
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