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Boundary-Work and the Demarcation of Science from Non-Science: Strains and Interests in

Professional Ideologies of Scientists


Author(s): Thomas F. Gieryn
Source: American Sociological Review, Vol. 48, No. 6 (Dec., 1983), pp. 781-795
Published by: American Sociological Association
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2095325 .
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BOUNDARY-WORK AND THE DEMARCATION OF SCIENCE FROM
NON-SCIENCE: STRAINS AND INTERESTS IN PROFESSIONAL
IDEOLOGIES OF SCIENTISTS*

THOMAS F. GIERYN
Indiana University

The demarcation of science from other intellectual activities-long an analytic


problemfor philosophersand sociologists-is here examinedas a practicalproblem
for scientists. Construction of a boundary between science and varieties of
non-science is useful for scientists' pursuit of professional goals: acquisition of
intellectual authority and career opportunities; denial of these resources to
"pseudoscientists";and protection of the autonomy of scientific research from
political interference. "Boundary-work"describes an ideological style found in
scientists'attemptsto create a public imagefor science by contrastingitfavorably to
non-scientificintellectual or technical activities. Alternativesets of characteristics
availablefor ideological attributionto science reflect ambivalencesor strains within
the institution:science can be made to look empiricalor theoretical,pure or applied.
However, selection of one or another descriptiondepends on which characteristics
best achieve the demarcationin a way thatjustifies scientists' claims to authorityor
resources. Thus, "science" is no single thing:its boundariesare drawnand redrawn
inflexible, historicallychangingand sometimesambiguousways.

Philosophersand sociologists of science have a demarcation between scientific and other


long struggled with the "problem of demar- knowledgeis a poor heuristicfor the sociology
cation": how to identify unique and essen- of science (Collins, 1982:300).Characteristics
tial characteristicsof science that distinguishit once proposedas capableof distinguishingsci-
from other kinds of intellectual activities. ence fromnon-sciencearefound to be common
Comte ([1853] 1975:72)distinguishedpositive among intellectual activities not ordinarily
science from theology and metaphysics in his labeled scientific, or they are found not to be
evolutionarylaw of three stages, arguingthat typical features of science-in-practice (e.g.,
only science used "reasoningand observation" Knorret al., 1980;Elkana, 1981:41;Broadand
to establish laws of "succession and re- Wade, 1982:8-9). Some dismiss demarcation
semblance." Popper (1965:34, 41) proposed as a "pseudo-problem"(Laudan, 1983:29).
"falsifiability"as a criterionof demarcation:if Continuingdebates over the possibility or
a theory cannot, in principle, be falsified (re- desirabilityof demarcatingscience from non-
futed) by empirical data, it is not scientific. science are, in one sense, ironic. Even as
Merton (1973: Chap. 13) explains the special sociologists and philosophers argue over the
abilityof modernscience to extend "certified" uniqueness of science among intellectual ac-
knowledge as a result, in part, of the in- tivities, demarcationis routinelyaccomplished
stitutionalizationof distinctive social norms in practical, everyday settings: education ad-
(communism, universalism, disinterestedness ministrators set up curricula that include
and organized skepticism). chemistry but exclude alchemy; the National
Recent studies, however, suggest that at- Science Foundationadopts standardsto assure
tempts to demarcate science have failed that some physicists but no psychics get
(Bohme, 1979:109), and that the assumption of funded; journal editors reject some manu-
scriptsas unscientific. How is the demarcation
of science accomplishedin these practicalset-
*Direct all correspondence to: Thomas F. Gieryn, tings, far removed from apparentlyfutile at-
Department of Sociology, Indiana University, tempts by scholars to decide what is essential
Bloomington, IN 47405. and unique about science? Demarcationis not
Many people provided helpful suggestions, among just an analytical problem: because of consid-
them: David Zaret, Robert Althauser, Howard
Becker, George Bevins, William Corsaro, Elihu Ger-
erable materialopportunitiesand professional
son, Allen Grimshaw, Robert Merton, Nicholas Mul- advantagesavailable only to "scientists," it is
fins, Bernice Pescosolido, Whitney Pope, Charles no mere academic matter to decide who is
Powers, Sal Restivo, and Stephen Zehr. My devel- doing science and who is not.
opment of the concept of "boundary-work" bene- This paperrestates the problemof demarca-
fited from conversations with Steve Woolgar. tion: characteristics of science are examined
American Sociological Review 1983, Vol. 48 (December:781-795) 781
782 AMERICAN SOCIOLOGICAL REVIEW

not as inherentor possibly unique, but as part [their]privilege"through"expedientialration-


of ideologicaleffortsby scientists to distinguish alizations of . . . material interests" (Bendix,
theirwork and its productsfrom non-scientific 1963:xi,449). The two theories are sometimes
intellectual activities. The focus is on presented as mutually exclusive and compet-
boundary-workof scientists: their attribution ing: Sutton et al. (1956:12)"reject"the theory
of selected characteristicsto the institutionof that "ideologies simply reflect . . . economic
science (i.e., to its practitioners, methods, self-interest,"while Seider(1974:812)finds the
stock of knowledge, values and work organi- "Marx-Mannheimtheory was . . . more useful
zation) for purposes of constructing a social than Sutton's role-strain theory in predicting
boundarythat distinguishes some intellectual the content of public political ideology" of
activities as "non-science." Boundary-workis business leaders.
analyzed as a rhetorical style common in The effectiveness of strain and interest
"public science" (Turner, 1980:589;cf. Men- theories has been impeded by "theoretical
delsohn, 1977:6),in which scientists describe clumsiness" (Geertz, 1973:196) resulting, in
science for the public and its political au- part, from an "anarchy of linguistic dif-
thorities, sometimes hopingto enlargethe ma- ferences" (Oakeshott, 1980:viii;on the diverse
terialand symbolicresourcesof scientists or to definitionsof "ideology," cf. Mannheim,1936;
defend professional autonomy. The paper ex- Birnbaum, 1960; Lichtheim, 1967; Gouldner,
amines both style and content of professional 1976; Larrain, 1979). The two theories agree
ideologies of scientists, as illustratedin three substantially:both see ideologies as symbolic
examples: first, public addresses and popular representations(whethersets of ideas, beliefs,
writingsof John Tyndall, an effective "states- values, wishes, consciousnesses or world-
man for science" in late Victorian England; views); both suggest that ideologies selectively
second, argumentsover the scientific status of distort social "reality";both assume that ade-
phrenology in early 19th-centuryEdinburgh; quate explanationrequiresexaminationof the
third, a 1982 policy report by the National social context of ideological statements,
Academy of Sciences on scientific communi- focusing on structuralsources and functional
cation and national security. consequences of ideas. To add to the confu-
sion, followers of Parsons allow that interests
SOCIOLOGICALTHEORIES OF are "certainly an important determinant of
IDEOLOGY ideological reaction" (White, 1961:9), while
Marx traced the origins of ideology to the de-
Two long-standing theoretical orientations sire of rulingclasses to conceal contradictions
dominatesociological studies of ideology, and between the means and the social relations of
these are especially visible in analyses of occu- production(cf. Larrain, 1979:45-61).
pationalor professionalideologies(cf. Carlton, Geertzhas taken two steps towardclarifying
1977:24-28;Geertz, 1973:201).Strain theories sociological theories of ideology. First, he
are associated with Parsons (1967:139-65, rightlysuggests that strainand interesttheories
1951:331-54):ideologies provide "evaluative need not be incompatible:an ideology can, at
integration"in the face of conflictingdemands, once, smooth inconsistencies and advance
competing expectations and inevitable am- interests (Geertz, 1973:201). Second, Geertz
bivalences of social life. They are symp- recommends that sociologists examine the
toms-as well as symbolic resolutions-of rhetorical style of ideological statements (cf.
role strain, contradiction,and disequilibrium Dibble, 1973).Both strainand interesttheories
(White, 1961; Sutton et al., 1956; Johnson, directattentionto social functionsof ideologies
1968). Interest theories are associated with while largely ignoringpatternsin the symbolic
Marx(e.g., [1846]1976:28-30;cf. Seliger, 1977) formulations and figurative languages of
and Mannheim(1936): ideologies are "social ideologists. Geertz (1973:212-13)proposes the
levers"or "weapons"used by groupsto further study of "stylistic resources" used in con-
theirpoliticalor economic interestsamidstuni- structingideologies: how do ideologists use lit-
versalstrugglesfor powerand advantage.They erary devices of metaphor, hyperbole, irony,
aremanipulationsof ideasto persuadepeople to and sarcasm, or syntacticaldevices of antithe-
think and act in ways benefitingthe ideologist sis, inversion, and repetition?
(Birnbaum,1960;Winter, 1974). Thus, Geertz identifies two gaps in our
For example, the ideology of business lead- understandingof ideology, one related to its
ers has been explained alternativelyas the re- content, the other to its style of presentation.
sult of "strains . . . in the business role" such First, if both strains and interests affect the
as "conflicts between the demandsof the par- content of ideology, a more encompassing
ticularposition and the broadervalues of soci- theory will be required to articulate the in-
ety" (Sutton et al., 1956:11,vii), and as "at- teraction between them in the constructionof
tempts by leaders of enterprises to justify ideologicalstatements.Do strainsand interests
BOUNDARY-WORK IN PROFESSIONAL IDEOLOGIES OF SCIENTISTS 783

play different roles in the formulation of in society as a preferredtruthin descriptionsof


ideologies? Second, what causes stylistic vari- naturaland social reality. Yet none of the per-
ation in the rhetoric of ideologists? Can we spectives asks how science acquires that in-
identify specific social conditions in which an tellectual authority. Part of an answer to this
ideology might be expected to take one or an- largequestion will come from investigationsof
other stylistic form? The following analysis of professionalideologies of scientists: What im-
professional ideologies of scientists begins to ages of science do scientists present to pro-
fill these two theoreticalgaps. mote their authorityover designateddomains
of knowledge?
Curiously, ideologies of science have re-
Ideology and Science ceived only sporadic sociological attention
The relationship between "science" and (Daniels, 1967;Greenberg,1967;Reagan, 1969;
"ideology"has been described in significantly Tobey, 1971). Mulkay offers a promising
differentways (cf. Larrain, 1979:13-14). In a agenda: he analyzes Merton'sfour norms not
classic positivist tradition,the "certain"truth as constraints on scientists' behavior, but as
of scientific knowledge is the only means to "vocabularies"for ideological descriptions of
.detect discrepancies between ideological dis- science (1976, 1979:71-72, 1980:101). Espe-
tortion and the way things "really" are (e.g. cially when scientists confront the public or its
Comte, [1853]1975:72;Durkheim,1938:31-33; politicians, they endow science with charac-
Parsons, 1967:153). In the short-lived "end- teristics selected for an ability to advance pro-
of-ideology" debate (Bell, 1962), science and fessional interests. Scientistshave a numberof
ideology sometimes assumed a zero-sum re- "culturalrepertoires"available for construct-
lationship, so that "increased application of ing ideological self-descriptions, among them
scientific criteria for policy determination Merton'snorms,but also claims to the utilityof
[comes] at the expense of . .. political criteria science for advancing technology, winning
and ideological thinking" (Lane, 1966:649). wars, or deciding policy in an impartialway.
Retreatsfrom naive positivismhave taken sev- Mulkay'scontributionis largelyprogrammatic:
eral directions. Some suggest that because it remainsto demonstrateempiricallyhow sci-
ideology inevitablyintrudesinto the construc- entists in public settings move flexibly among
tion of scientific knowledge-in social science repertoiresof self-description.In other words,
(e.g., Zeitlin, 1968) and naturalscience (e.g., how do scientists construct ideologies with
MacKenzie, 1981)-the line between scientific style and content well suited to the advance-
truth and ideological distortion is difficult to ment or protection of their professional au-
locate. Otherssuggest that the languageof sci- thority?
ence is used to legitimatepalpablyideological
assertions: Braverman (1974:86) describes
Taylor's "scientific management"as ideology IN SCIENCE, RELIGIONAND MECHANICS
"masqueradingin the trappings of science." VICTORIANENGLAND
Still others define science as an ideology itself Science is often perceived today as the sole
(Marcuse, 1964);for Habermas(1970:115)the occupant of a distinctive niche in the "in-
form of scientific knowledgeembodies its own tellectual ecosystem" (Boulding, 1980). Other
values of predictionand control, and thus may knowledge-producingactivities, such as reli-
substitute for "the demolished bourgeois gion, art, politics, and folklore, are seen as
ideology"in legitimatingstructuresof domina- complements to science rather than competi-
tion and repression.Finally, to come full circle tors. But science has not always had its niche,
from Comte's positivist faith in the ability of nor are the boundaries of its present niche
science to separatetruthfrom politicallymoti- permanent. The intellectual ecosystem has
vated distortion,ideology becomes a source of with time been carved up into "separate"in-
liberationfromscience: "it is one of ideology's stitutional and professional niches through
essential social functions . . . to stand outside continuing processes of boundary-workde-
of science, and to reject the idea of science as signedto achieve an apparentdifferentiationof
self-sufficient,"and to expose "the egoism, the goals, methods, capabilities and substantive
barbarismand the limits of science" (Gould- expertise.
ner, 1976:36). Boundarydisputes still occur: the recent liti-
A commonthreadrunsthroughthese diverse gation over "creationism" suggests that for
descriptions of the relationshipbetween sci- some Christianfundamentalists,religion and
ence and ideology:all assume that science car- science continue to battle for the same in-
ries its own intellectualauthority.In order for tellectual turf. To the victor go the spoils: op-
science to expose ideological distortion, or to portunitiesto teach one's beliefs about the ori-
legitimatecapitalist structuresof domination, gin of life to biology students in Arkansaspub-
scientific knowledge must be widely accepted lic schools (Nelkin, 1982).Scientistshave often
784 AMERICAN SOCIOLOGICAL REVIEW

come up winners in the long history of such this as a "professional"conflict for "authority
boundarydisputes: "in modern societies, sci- and prestige," ratherthan strictly an academic
ence is near to being the source of cognitive debate between two "theories"of naturalhis-
authority: anyone who would be widely be- tory (cf. Turner, 1974a). The intellectual au-
lieved and trusted as an interpreterof nature thority of long-standingreligious beliefs, rein-
needs a license from the scientificcommunity" forced every Sunday from the pulpit, created
(Barnes and Edge, 1982:2).This authorityhas resistance toward scientific explanations of
been cashed in for copious materialresources natural phenomena. For example, Tyndall
and power: about $1 billionof tax revenue was found himself embroiledin the "prayergauge"
provided last year to support basic scientific debate, which was sparkedby an 1872 article
research in American universities; "expert" challengingChristiansof the nation to conduct
scientists are called before courts and.govern- an experimentto determinethe physical effi-
ment hearing rooms to provide putatively cacy of prayer. It was then the custom for the
truthful and reliable contexts for decision British PrimeMinisteror Privy Councilto ask
making;science educationis an integralpartof a highofficial of the Anglicanchurchto call for
modern curricula, opening employment op- a national day of prayer as a response to na-
portunitiesfor scientists at almostevery school tional crises. Public prayers were called as
and university. Scientists often win these pro- hoped-forsolutions to cattle plagues in 1865, a
fessional advantagesin boundarydisputesthat choleraepidemicin 1866,and a case of typhoid
resultin the loss of authorityand resources by suffered by the young Prince (Edward) of
competingnon-scientificintellectualactivities. Wales in 1871.
Public addresses and popular writings by To Tyndall, public prayers "represented a
John Tyndall (1820-1893) are a rich source of concrete form of superstitionwhereby clergy
informationon how this boundary-workwas with the approvalof the state could hinderthe
accomplished in Victorian England (for bio- dispersionof scientific explanationsof natural
graphicaldetails, cf. Eve and Creasey, 1945; phenomenaor claim credit for the eradication
MacLeod, 1976a; Burchfield, 1981). Tyndall of natural problems that were solved by the
followed Michael Faraday as Professor and methods of science . . ." (Turner, 1974b:48).
then Superintendentat the Royal Institutionin (When the young Prince recovered from
London, where he was chargedwith delivering typhoid, clergymen pointed to the effective-
lectures demonstratingto lay and scientific ness of the country's prayers.) Tyndall en-
audiencesthe progressof scientificknowledge. couraged an experiment in which a selected
At that time, career opportunitiesand re- hospital would be made the focus of national
searchfacilities availableto Britishmen of sci-prayer, with a comparison of mortality rates
ence were paltry (MacLeod, 1972; Turner, before and after the day of supplication.The
1976;Cardwell,1972).ThomasHenry Huxley, experimentwas never conducted, but the furi-
Tyndall'sfriendand Darwin's"bulldog,"com- ous debate provoked by its proposal gives a
plainedin 1874that "no amountof proficiency sense of how much "the scientific professions
in the biological sciences will 'surely be con-desired the social and cultural prestige and
vertibleinto breadand cheese' " (Mendelsohn, recognitionthat had been and to a largedegree
1964:32).Tyndall used his visible position at still was accorded the clergy" (Turner,
the Royal Institutionto promote a variety of 1974b:64).
ideological argumentsto justify scientists' re- The Church also held power over educa-
quests for greaterpublicsupport.He faced two tional institutionsand used it to stall introduc-
impediments: the intellectual authority of tion of science into the curriculum. During
Victorian religion and the practical accom- Tyndall'stenureas Presidentof the BritishAs-
plishments of Victorian engineeringand me- sociation for the Advancement of Science in
chanics. Tyndall's campaignfor science took 1874,the CatholicChurchin his native Ireland
the rhetoricalstyle of boundary-work:he at- rejected a request from laymen to include the
tributedselected characteristicsto science thatphysical sciences in the curriculum of the
effectively demarcatedit from religion or me- Catholic university. Perhaps as a response to
chanics, providinga rationalefor the superior- this, Tyndall's presidentialaddress at Belfast
ity of scientists in designated intellectualandwas an unequivocaldenial of the authorityof
technical domains. religious beliefs over naturalphenomena, and
he made "so bold a claim for the intellectual
imperialismof the modem scientific inquiry"
Scientists' Struggle for Authority
(Turner, 1981:172)that churchmenand some
The endless conflict between religion and sci- scientists were outraged.
ence reached a crescendo in the decade fol- Victorian mechanicians and engineers pre-
lowing publicationof Darwin's The Origin of sented a differentobstacle to the expansion of
Species in 1859. Turner (1978:357)describes scientificauthorityand resources. Practicalin-
BOUNDARY-WORK IN PROFESSIONAL IDEOLOGIES OF SCIENTISTS 785

ventions of Victorian craftsmen-steam en- drawingthe boundarybetween science and re-


gines, telegraphs-did almost as much to stall ligion, Tyndall emphasized the following dis-
the entry of science into universities as the tinguishingfeatures:
stonewall tactics of the Church.Many Britons (1) Science is practicallyuseful in inspiring
believed that technical progress in the Indus- technologicalprogressto improvethe material
trial Revolution was not dependent on scien- conditionsof the nation;religionis "useful," if
tific research, and some, like WilliamSewell, at all, for aid and comfortin emotionalmatters.
believed that science impededthe floweringof In an 1866 discourse on radiantheat Tyndall
practicaltechnology: "deep thinking[is] quite says, "that the knowledge brought to us by
out of place in a world of railroadsand steam- those prophets, priests and kings of science is
boats, printing presses and spinning-jennies" what the world calls 'useful knowledge,' the
(in Houghton, 1957:114). Many would have triumphant application of their discoveries
agreed with Victorian writer Samuel Smiles, proves" (Tyndall, 1905a:102, cf. 365). The
who wrote in 1874:"One of the most remark- contributions of religion lie elsewhere: reli-
able things about engineering in England is, gious thought is "capable of adding, in the re-
that its principleachievements have been ac- gion of poetry and emotion, inward complete-
complished,not by naturalphilosophersnor by ness and dignityto man"(Tyndall, 1905b:209).
mathematicians,but by men of humblestation, (2) Science is empirical in that its road to
for the most part self-educated . . . The great truthis experimentationwith observablefacts
mechanics . . . gatheredtheir practicalknowl- of nature;religion is metaphysicalbecause its
edge in the workshop, or acquiredit in manual truths depend on spiritual, unseen forces as-
labor" (in Robinson and Musson, 1969:1). If sumed withoutverification.In the midst of the
technologicalprogress was detached from sci- Prayer Gauge controversy, Tyndall observed
entific research, then the need for greater fi- that in science, "to check the theory we have
nancial support of scientists and enlarged sci- simply to compare the deductionsfrom it with
entific education would go unappreciatedby the facts of observation . . . But while science
the British public and its politicians. cheerfully submits to this ordeal, it seems im-
Moreover, as engineers began to "profes- possible to devise a mode of verification of
sionalize" by claiming expertise over certain theirtheories which does not rouse resentment
technical issues, they sometimes confronted in theological minds. Is it that, while the plea-
scientists who tried to assert their own techni- sure of the scientific man culminates in the
cal authority. From 1866 until his 1882 demonstrated harmony between theory and
resignation-in-protest,Tyndall served as "sci- fact, the highest pleasure of the religious man
entific" adviser to the Board of Trade on the has been already tasted in the very act of
question of how best to illuminate Britain's praying,priorto verification,any furthereffort
lighthouses. Although the operation of light- in this directionbeinga mere disturbanceof his
houses had traditionallybeen an engineering peace?" (Tyndall, 1905b:47-48).
matter, Tyndallarguedthat the engineers who (3) Science is skeptical because it respects
advised the Board "had closed their minds to no authority other than the facts of nature;
external innovation" and expressed "diffi- religion is dogmatic because it continues to
dence toward the encouragementof new sci- respect the authority of worn-out ideas and
entific ideas" (MacLeod, 1969:31,15). Tyndall their creators. "The first condition of success
believed that informed policy required more [in science] is patient industry, an honest re-
fundamentalresearch, while engineers were ceptivity, and a willingnessto abandonall pre-
apparentlycontent to reach decisions with ex- conceived notions, however cherished, if they
tant knowledge. In the end, Tyndall's recom- be found to contradict the truth" (Tyndall,
mendations were ignored in favor of the en- 1905a:307).The dogmatismimputedto theolo-
gineers', who "were already in positions of gians is a main theme in Tyndall's diatribe
high civil authority . . . Practical men who had against observationof the Sabbath:"the most
braved the brute force of nature to fashion fatalerrorthat could be committedby the lead-
pillars of stone and mortarhad a strong emo- ers of religiousthought is the attemptto force
tional case against speculative men of ideas" into their own age conceptions which have
(MacLeod, 1969:15). lived theirlife, and come to theirnaturalend in
preceding ages . . . Foolishness is far too weak
Science as Not-Religion
a word to apply to any attemptto force upon a
scientific age the edicts of a Jewish lawgiver"
Because religion and mechanics thwarted (in (Tyndall, 1898:33,36).
differentways) Tyndall's effort to expand the (4) Science is objective knowledgefree from
authorityand resources of scientists, he often emotions, private interests, bias or prejudice;
chose them as "contrast-cases" when con- religion is subjective and emotional. Tyndall
structingideologiesof science for the public. In observes that the book of Genesis should be
786 AMERICAN SOCIOLOGICAL REVIEW

read as "a poem, not [as] a scientific treatise. tion in an 1876 discourse in Glasgow on the
In the formeraspect, it is forever beautiful;in science of fermentationand the mechanicalart
the lateraspect it has been, and it will continue of brewingbeer: "it mightbe said that untilthe
to be, purely obstructive and hurtful. To present year no thorough and scientific ac-
knowledge its value has been negative count was ever given of the agencies which
(Tyndall, 1905b:224). While considering the come into play in the manufactureof beer ...
topic of miracles and special providences, Hitherto the art and practice of the brewer
Tyndall (in 1867)writes: "to kindle the fire of have resembled those of the physician, both
religion in the soul, let the affections by all being founded on empirical observation. By
means be invoked . . . [But] testimony as to this is meant the observation of facts, apart
naturalfacts is worthless when wrappedin this from the principles which explain them, and
atmosphereof the affections;the most earnest which give the mindan intelligentmasteryover
subjective truth being thus renderedperfectly them. The brewer learned from long experi-
compatiblewith the most astoundingobjective ence the conditions, not the reasons, of suc-
error" (Tyndall, 1905b:19-20). A military cess ... Over and over again his care has been
metaphorsuggests that this boundary-workfor rendered nugatory; his beer has fallen into
Tyndall was more than philosophicalspecula- acidity or rottenness, and disastrous losses
tion: "It is against the objective renderingof have been sustained, of which he has been
the.emotions-this thrustinginto the region of unable to assign the cause" (Tyndall,
fact and positive knowledgeof conceptions es- 1905b:267).
sentially ideal and poetic-that science ... (3) Science is theoretical. Mechaniciansare
wages war" (Tyndall, 1905b:393). not scientists because they do not go beyond
observed facts to discover the causal princi-
Science as Not-Mechanics ples that govern underlying unseen processes.
"Ourscience would not be worthy of its name
When Tyndall turns to build a boundarybe- and fame if it halted at facts, however practi-
tween science and mechanics, he attributesto cally useful, and neglected the laws which ac-
science a differentset of characteristicsin re- company and rule the phenomena"(Tyndall,
sponse to the different kind of obstacle pre- 1905a:95-96). "One of the most important
sented by the technical achievements and au- functions of physical science . . . is to enable
thority of engineers and industrialcraftsmen. us by means of the sensible processes of Na-
Significantly,characteristicshere attributedto ture to apprehend the insensible" (Tyndall,
science are not always consistent with those 1905a:80). Tyndall's choice of words in the
attributedto science when Tyndalldemarcated next two passages seems odd for one who
it from religion. elsewhere speaks the languageof naive empiri-
(1) Scientific inquiry is the fount of knowl-cism: "the visible world [is] converted by sci-
edge on which the technological progress of ence into the symbol of an invisible one. We
inventorsand engineersdepends. "Beforeyour can have no explanationof the objects of expe-
practical men appeared upon the scene, the rience, withoutinvokingthe aid and ministryof
force had been discovered, its laws investi- objects which lie beyond the pale of experi-
gated and made sure, the most complete mas- ence" (Tyndall, 1883:33)."The theory is the
tery of its phenomenahad been attained-nay, backward guess from fact to principle; the
its applicability to telegraphic purposes conjecture,or divinationregardingsomething,
demonstrated-by men whose sole rewardfor which lies behind the facts, and from which
their labours was the noble excitement of re- they flow in necessary sequence" (Tyndall,
search, and the joy attendanton the discovery 1894:141-42).
of naturaltruth"(Tyndall, 1901:221-22)."The (4) Scientists seek discovery of facts as ends
professed utilitarian . . . admires the flower, in themselves;mechaniciansseek inventionsto
but is ignorantof the conditions of its growth further personal profit. On the electric light,
. . . Let the self-styled practical man look to Tyndall notes: "Two orders of minds have
those from the fecundity of whose thoughthe, been implicated in the development of this
and thousandslike him, have sprunginto exis- subject: first, the investigatorand discoverer,
tence. Werethey inspiredin theirfirst inquiries whose object is purely scientific, and who
by the calculationsof utility?Not one of them" cares little for practical ends; secondly, the
(Tyndall, 1905a:312). practicalmechanician,whose object is mainly
(2) Scientists acquire knowledge through industrial . . . The one wants to gain knowl-
systematic experimentation with nature; be- edge, while the other wishes to make money
cause mechaniciansand engineersrelyon mere ..." (Tyndall, 1905b:472-73). The lust for
observation, trial-and-error, and common profit among mechanicians is said to impede
sense, they cannot explain their practicalsuc- technological progress: "The slowness with
cesses or failures. Tyndall makes this distinc- which improvements make their way among
BOUNDARY-WORK IN PROFESSIONAL IDEOLOGIES OF SCIENTISTS 787

workmen ... is also due to the greed for cultural and political elite, science was less
wealth, the desire for monopoly, the spirit of attractiveas a means to make money and more
secret intrigueexhibited amongmanufactures" attractive as the discoverer of truth and as a
(Tyndall, 1898:136). These attitudes are not source of intellectualdiscipline.
common to scientists: "The edifice of science Tyndall's choice of religion and mechanics
had been raisedby men who had unswervingly as contrast-caseswas not an idle one: each was
followed the truth as it is in nature; and in an impedimentto public support, fundingand
doing so had often sacrificed interests which educational opportunities essential for the
are usually potent in this world" (Tyndall, growth of science in Victorian England. Tyn-
1905b:403). dall demarcatedscience from these two obsta-
(5) Science' need not justify its work by cles, but the characteristicsattributedto sci-
pointing to its technological applications, for ence were differentfor each boundary:scien-
science has nobler uses as a means of in- tific knowledge is empirical when contrasted
tellectual discipline and as the epitome of with the metaphysicalknowledge of religion,
humanculture. Tyndallasks: "But is it neces- but theoretical when contrasted with the
sary that the studentof science shouldhave his common-sense, hands-onobservations of me-
labourstested by their possible practicalappli- chanicians;science is justified by its practical
cations?Whatis the practicalvalue of Homer's utility when compared to the merely poetic
Iliad? You smile, and possibly think that contributions of religion, but science is jus-
Homer's Iliad is good as a means of culture. tified by its nobler uses as a means of "pure"
There's the rub. The people who demand of culture and discipline when compared to en-
science practicaluses forget, or do not know, gineering. Alternative repertoires were avail-
that it also is great as a means of culture-that able for Tyndall's ideological self-descriptions
the knowledge of this wonderfuluniverse is a of scientists: selection of one repertoire was
thingprofitablein itself, and requiringno prac- apparentlyguided by its effectiveness in con-
tical applicationto justify its pursuit"(Tyndall, structing a boundary that rationalized scien-
1905a:101).And to an Americanaudience: "it tists' requestsfor enlargedauthorityand public
is mainlybecause I believe it to be wholesome, support.
not only as a source of knowledge but as a Still, Tyndall was not disingenuous in de-
means of discipline, that I urge the claims of scribingscience in one context as "practically
science upon your attention . . . Not as a ser- useful," and elsewhere as "pure culture." It
vant of Mammondo I ask you to take science would be reductionisticto explain these incon-
to your hearts, but as the strengthenerand sistent parts of a professionalideology merely
enlightener of the mind of man" (Tyndall, as fictions conjured up to serve scientists'
1901:217,245). interests. There is, in science, an unyielding
This last attributionseems odd. If utilitarian tension between basic and applied research,
consequences of science are often mentioned and between the empiricaland theoreticalas-
to justify increased resources for scientific re- pects of inquiry. Tyndall's "public science"
search, why does Tyndall also present an exploits this genuine ambivalenceby selecting
imageof "pure"science to be appreciatedas a for attributionto science one or anotherset of
means of high culture and intellectual disci- characteristicsmost effective in demarcating
pline? For two reasons, Tyndall demarcated science from religionon some occasions, from
the merely practical mechanician from the mechanics on others.
more-than-practicalscientist. First, if science This ideology, however inconsistent or in-
was justified only in terms of potential indus- complete, seems to have improvedthe fortunes
trial accomplishments, government officials of science in the decades immediatelyfollow-
could argue(as Gladstone-Prime Ministerfor ing Tyndall's death in 1893. Scientists "had
much of this period-often did) that profits established themselves firmly throughoutthe
from scientifically inspired innovations would educationalsystem and could pursue research
repay private industrialists who invested in and teaching free from ecclesiastical interfer-
scientific research. By emphasizing that sci- ence" (Turner, 1978:376),and by 1914 public
ence has cultural virtues beyond practical money for civil scientific research reached 2
utility-virtues not likely to be appreciatedand million pounds, or an unprecedented3.6 per-
financially supported by profit-seeking cent of the total civil expenditure(MacLeod,
industrialists-Tyndall presented an "alterna- 1976b:161,cf. 1982).
tive case" for governmentgrants to scientists.
Second, Mendelsohn(1964)has suggested that PHRENOLOGISTSAND ANATOMISTSIN
descriptionsof science as industriallypractical EARLY 19TH-CENTURYEDINBURGH
might not have persuaded Oxford and Cam-
bridge Universities to enlarge their science Boundary-work is also a useful ideological
curricula.As part of the educationof Britain's style when monopolizing professional au-
788 AMERICAN SOCIOLOGICAL REVIEW

thority and resources in the hands of some objectively evaluate knowledge claims (cf.
scientists by excluding others as "pseudo- Shapin, 1979:140).Alternatively, Combe pre-
scientists" (cf. Mauskopf, 1979; Wallis, 1979; sented an image of science as essentially limit-
Collins and Pinch, 1982). The debate over less: phrenological science could provide a
phrenologyillustrateshow one group of scien- sound foundation for deciding religious or
tists draws a boundaryto exclude anotheralso political questions. Early 19th-centuryscien-
claimingto be scientific. tists desired a peaceful coexistence with the
Phrenology began in the late 18th century Church, to be accomplished by a careful de-
with anatomist-and-physicianFranz Joseph marcationof scientificfrom religiousquestions
Gall, who arguedthree essential principles(cf. (cf. DeGiustino, 1975:50,104;Cannon, 1978:2).
Cantor, 1975:197):the brainis the organof the Edinburghanatomists perhaps felt threatened
mind;the brainis made up of separateorgans, by presumptionsthat science providedthe one
each related to distinct mental faculties; the truth: Combe claimed that "phrenology held
size of the organ is a measureof the power of the key to all knowledge and provided the
its associated mental faculty. The faculties in- philosophical basis for a true approach to
cluded sentiments such as combativeness, Christianity" (Cantor, 1975:204). When
self-esteem, benevolence, and veneration,and phrenologistsoffered a "scientific"theory that
intellectualfaculties such as imitation, order, religiosity was a function of the size of one's
time, number, tune, and wit. An individual organfor "veneration,"the domainof religion
with a large organ for "amativeness"was ex- had obviously been encroachedupon (Cooter,
pected to have a large appetitefor "feelings of 1976:216). Anatomists implied that because
physical love." Phrenologists claimed to be Combe placed a quasi-religiousmission ahead
able to judge a person's mental character by of the dispassionate search for knowledge
examiningthe patternof bumpson the outside about natural phenomena, he was no longer
of the skull: a proturberancein the forehead within science. Perhaps they also convinced
indicatedintellectualprowess because this-was powerfulScottish churchmenthat intrusionof
the regionfor organsof reflection.Thejourney phrenologyinto religion was not the work of
of phrenology from serious science to bona fide scientists.
sideshow legerdemain is a consequence of (2) For Combe, phrenology relied on em-
boundary-workby phrenologistsand their sci- piricalmethods like any other science: "Expe-
entific adversaries, a debate which peaked in rience alone can decide concerning the accu-
Edinburghin the early 1800s. racy or inaccuracyof our observationand in-
The Scottish controversy was fueled by an duction"(in Cantor, 1975:211). Criticsargued,
1803 article in the Edinburgh Review which however, that theories of phrenologywere so
described phrenology as "a mixture of gross vague as to remove them from "adequate"em-
errors, extravagant absurdities," "real igno- pirical testing. Francis Jeffrey, adversary of
rance, real hypocrisy," "trash, despicable Combe, could find no logical reason why there
trumpery" propagated by "two men calling was no organ for "love of horses" to accom-
themselves scientific inquirers" (in Davies, pany one proposed to explain "love of chil-
1955:9-10).This opinion was shared by Edin- dren," and concluded that phrenology
burgh'sintellectualelite, includinganatomists "aboundsin those equivocations, by which it
at the City's prestigiousmedical school. How- may often escape from direct refutation . .. [It
ever, prominent Edinburgh phrenologists- was] a series of mere evasions and gratuitous
Johann Spurzheim (a Gall student) and his assumptions"(in Cantor, 1975:213;cf. Young,
most vociferous recruit George Combe- 1970:43). William Hamilton, a philosopher,
enjoyed popularreputationsas legitimate sci- conducted experiments apparently con-
entists at least until 1820. Anatomists offered tradictingCombe's hypothesis that the cere-
public descriptionsof science that effectively bellum controlled sexual activity and that it
pushed Combe and phrenology outside its was larger in men than women. Hamilton
boundaries.Combein turnoffereda competing found the opposite but Combe did not retreat,
descriptionof science, makingit appearthat he instead defending phrenology as an "estima-
was unjustlybanishedand that he had as much tive," not an "exact" science. Hamilton'scali-
claim to the mantle of science as anatomists. brations were irrelevant for Combe because
phrenology"concerned approximatedetermi-
Alternative Images of Science nation of quantities, in particular,the size of
the cranialcontoursas gaugedby thefeel of the
The repertoires differed on three issues: (1) phrenologist . ." (in Cantor, 1975:214-15).
Anatomists tried to discredit the scientific This subjectivismwas enough for Hamiltonto
legitimacyof phrenologyby exposing its politi- dismiss phrenology as pseudo-science: "'so
cal and especially religious ambitions, which long as phrenology is a comparison of two
were said to currupt phrenologists'ability to hypothetical quantities-a science of propor-
BOUNDARY-WORK IN PROFESSIONAL IDEOLOGIES OF SCIENTISTS 789

tion withouta determinatestandardand an ac- ascertained by a scientific feel of bumps on


knowledged scale- . . . I deem it idle to dis- their heads).
pute about the applicationof a law which de- But anatomistswere successful in puttingthe
fines no phenomena,and the truthof a hypoth- boundarybetween their science and phrenol-
esis which has no legitimateconstitution"(in ogy: Combe was denied the chair of Logic at
Cantor, 1975:215). EdinburghUniversity; phrenologistswere not
(3) Anatomists accused phrenologistsof re- allowed to use lecture halls at the Edinburgh
lying on popular opinion to validate their School of Arts; phrenological issues were
theories while ignoring opinions of scientific rarelyadmittedto the properforum for scien-
"experts." Hamilton asked Combe to "pro- tific debate, the Royal Society of Edinburgh;
duce a single practical anatomist who will con- Combewas not allowed to form a "phrenologi-
sent to stake his reputation"on the truth of cal section" in the British Association for the
phrenology (in Cantor, 1975:216).Combe re- Advancement of Science (Parssinen, 1974:9;
plied that "experts" could not serve as dis- Shapin, 1975:229ff). Selected phrenological
passionatejudges of phrenologybecause most ideas from Gall were incorporated into the
had previouslyexpressed theircontemptfor it. legitimatescience of physiologicalpsychology
Combe advocated scientific populism, telling (cf. Boring, 1957:13;Smith, 1973:86-87)with-
his audiences in 1818: "Observe nature for out admittingCombe to the scientific commu-
yourselves and prove by your own repeated nity, thus avoiding threats to professionalau-
observationsthe truthor falsehood of phrenol- thorityand resourcesof Edinburghanatomists.
ogy" (in Shapin, 1975:236). Hamilton coun- Combe's ideology of science (as expandable
tered: "no useful purpose would be served by into religious questions, as estimative or sub-
submittingthe points at issue to an ignorant jective in methodology,and as capableof being
and non-vocalpublicwho could not clearly see evaluatedby non-specialists)instead served as

the finer points under discussion" (Cantor,


1975:216).Both sides claimed that their posi-
a vehicle for his exclusion from science as al-
ternativelydefined by anatomists.The bound-
tion was "morescientific." Combeplaced him- ary dispute between anatomists and
self with Galileo, Harvey, and Newton, whose phrenologistswas a contest for the authorityto
truthswere at first denied by established"sci- call oneself a scientist and to claim scientific
entific" experts. Anatomists argued that only legitimacy for one's beliefs. Phrenology lost:
those with sufficient trainingand skills could 'science" assumed boundaries that left no
evaluate technical claims about the structure room for it within.
and function of the brain.
Why did anatomists exclude phrenologists
from science? First, phrenology challenged "NATIONAL SECURITY"AND THE
AUTONOMYOF MODERN SCIENCE
orthodox theories and methods, and
anatomistsmay have sufferedlosses to profes- Once scientists accumulate abundant in-
sional reputations and opportunities had tellectual authority and convert it to public-
Combe been successful in his claim to science supported research programs, a different
(Shapin, 1979:169). Traditional divisions of problem faces the profession: how to retain
laborwithin the university(anatomistsstudied controlover the use of these materialresources
the structureof the body, moral philosophers by keeping science autonomousfrom controls
studied its mental and behavioralfunctioning) by governmentor industry.Publicand political
were threatened by phrenologists'claim that pleas for regulationof science often resultfrom
"theirswas the only complete science of man" dissatisfaction with its practical accom-
(Cooter, 1976:214). Second, Combe's demo- plishments:either scientists fail to provide the
cratic ideal of certifyingtruthby popularopin- technological fix that the public desires, or
ion challenged the authority of scientific ex- they producetechnologicalcapabilitiesthat the
perts. Third, as we have seen, phrenologists' public fears or loathes. Boundary-workis an
desire to meld science and Christianitycould effective ideological style for protecting pro-
have inspireda religiousbacklashagainstother fessional autonomy:public scientists construct
scientists, at a time when religion may have a boundarybetween the productionof scien-
had greater hold on public sympathythan sci- tific knowledge and its consumptionby non-
ence. On the other side, Combe sought scien- scientists (engineers, technicians, people in
tific legitimacy in part to advance his business and government).The goal is immu-
phrenologically inspired social and political nity from blamefor undesirableconsequences
reforms(cf. Shapin, 1975:233).He successfully of non-scientists' consumption of scientific
lobbied for rehabilitativeprogramsin prisons knowledge.
(cf. Parssinen, 1974:6) on grounds that pris- An illustrationcomes froma September1982
oners must be preparedfor occupationssuited report entitled Scientific Communication and
to their innate capacities (which were to be National Security, produced by the Committee
790 AMERICAN SOCIOLOGICAL REVIEW

on Science, Engineering and Public Policy of knowledge as its own end, not as a means for
the National Academy of Sciences (NAS, material production; open scientific communi-
1982). Some U.S. government officials now cation transmits theoretical and empirical
worry that rapid increases in Soviet military knowledge about nature, not "know-how" or
strength are due, in part, to their exploitation "recipes" immediately transferable to produc-
of American science and technology. Members tion of hardware (NAS, 1982:45, 62).
of the Reagan Administration have responded (2) This core of university-housed, "basic"
by proposing and, at times, implementing scientific research is not a significant source of
stricter controls on the open circulation of sci- "technology transfer" benefiting Soviet mili-
entific and technical knowledge.' The restric- tary strength, and thus "no restrictions of any
tions elicited outrage from the scientific com- kind limiting access or communication should
munity, captured in the title of a Science edito- be applied to any area of university research
rial: "Hand-Cuffing Science" (cf. Culliton, ..." (49). "While there has been extensive
1983). transfer of U.S. technology of direct military
In response to efforts to expand government relevance to the Soviet Union from a variety of
control over the circulation of scientific knowl- sources, there is strong consensus that scien-
edge, an NAS Panel on Scientific Communica- tific communication, including that involving
tion and National Security was created to ex- the university community, appears to have
amine the question "What is the effect on na- been a very small part of this transfer
tional security of technology transfer to adver- (13-14). The source of the problem lies
sary nations by means of open scientific com- elsewhere: "legal equipment purchases, out-
munication, either through scientific literature right espionage, illegal conduct by some indi-
or by person-to-person communications?" viduals and corporations in international trade,
(NAS, 1982:91). The Panel was made up of and secondary transfers through legal or illegal
representatives of organized science, industry, recipients abroad to the hands of U.S. adver-
and government. Whether its recom- saries" (41).
mendations are in the best interests of national (3) Government controls on open scientific
security is a matter for the public and its legis- communication would have deleterious side
lators to debate. However, the professional effects. First, scientists would be deterred
interests of science seem well served, for the from choosing to do research in militarily "sen-
Report recommends, in effect, that the over- sitive" areas, thus hampering American efforts
whelming majority of scientific communica- to produce its own innovative military hard-
tions should remain free from government re- ware (45). Second, if controls limited interna-
straints, and that national security will be more tional exchanges between American and Soviet
effectively attained not through controls on scientists, then progress of American science
science but through preserved autonomy and might be impeded in those research areas
enlarged resources to enable American science where the Soviets are especially strong, for
and technology to retain its international example, plasma physics, condensed-matter
preeminence. physics and fundamental properties of matter
To justify these recommendations, the Panel (25). Third, the progress of American science
presents four arguments: in general would suffer: "Free communication
(1) The Report isolates a "core" of science among scientists is viewed as an essential fac-
by demarcating the production of scientific tor in scientific advance. Such communication
knowledge from its consumption. Selected enables critical new findings or new theories to
characteristics are attributed to science in be readily and systematically subjected to the
order to distinguish it from technological appli- scrutiny of others and thereby verified or de-
cations: scientific work is housed mainly in bunked" (24). Fourth, constraints on scientific
universities, not in industrial firms or gov- communication would slow the rate of tech-
ernmental agencies; the goal of science is the nological innovation, both military and civil-
creation, dissemination and evaluation of ian: "The technological leadership of the
United States is based in no small part on a
scientific foundation whose vitality in turn de-
1 The Department of Defense recently blocked
pends on effective communication among sci-
presentation of about 150 of the 626 papers to be read entists and between scientists and engineers"
at the 26th annual meeting of the Society of Photo-
Optical Engineers in San Diego (August 1982). They (43).
acted on grounds that certain papers (federally sup- (4) American military supremacy, in an age
ported but "unclassified") on optical technologies of high-tech weaponry, is better achieved not
used in laser communication had potential military by controls on scientific communication, but
applications, and that the meetings were attended by by providing enlarged resources and improved
scientists from the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe facilities to scientists. "Current proponents of
(NAS, 1982:12, note 1). stricter controls advocate a strategy of security
BOUNDARY-WORK IN PROFESSIONAL IDEOLOGIES OF SCIENTISTS 791

throughsecrecy. In the view of the Panel, se- professionalgoals: autonomy and public sup-
curity by accomplishment may have more to port.
offer as a general national strategy. The long- The persuasivenessof this Reporthinges on
term security of the United States depends in the effectiveness of its boundary-work.If the
largeparton its economic, technical, scientific, Panel succeeds in demarcatingthe university-
and intellectualvitality, which in turn depends based productionof "basic" scientific knowl-
on the vigorous research and developmentef- edge from its technological consumption and
fort that openness helps to nurture"(45). The application, then legislators may accept its
Panel does not miss an opportunityto hint at conclusion and follow its recommendations.
the inadequacyof Governmentsupportof sci- Because the responsibilityand blamefor leaks
ence: "Federal funding at universities, mea- of militarily useful technology to the Soviet
sured in constant dollars, leveled off about 15 Union is not to be placed on science but on
years ago, and thus recent growth in the sys- individualsor corporations outside the com-
tem has been slight, makingit more difficultto munity of American university-based scien-
replace obsolete equipment and to undertake tists, the case for increased governmentcon-
new, and more expensive, enterprises trols on scientific communicationis less com-
(23). pelling. The continued autonomy of scientists
The boundary-workhere is subtle and com- may depend on the effectiveness of this ideol-
plex: on one hand, the Panel asserts that ogy.2
university-basedscience yields "basic" rather
than "applied"knowledge;on the other, they CONCLUSION:THE AMBIGUOUS
assert that university-basedscience is essential BOUNDARIES OF "SCIENCE"
for technologicalprogress. The two assertions
are not necessarily contradictory: "basic" At first glance, Tyndall'sexhortationsfor pub-
knowledge can be transformedinto "applied" lic support of science seem remote from the
knowledge and, with time, yield military and Edinburgh phrenology debates or from the
industrial products. The sociologically in- militaryexploitationof scientificknowledge,at
teresting point is this: a boundary between least until the concept of "boundary-work"is
basic and appliedscience is clearly established introduced.The three examples of ideologies
when the Panel wants to cordon "science" of science have a common rhetoricalstyle: at-
(i.e., basic research at universities)from gov- tributionsof selected characteristicsto the in-
ernment controls on communication;but the stitution of science for purposes of construct-
boundaryis obscured, if not dissolved, when ing a social boundarythat distinguishes"non-
the Panelwishes to remindlegislatorsthateven scientific" intellectual or professional activi-
basic science makes importantcontributionsto ties. Geertz's suggestion to examine the
technological progress. The Panel notes: "in "stylistic resources" of ideologists has proved
manyfields, at the cuttingedge of science, the fruitful: "boundary-work"is a sociological
distinctionbetween basic and appliedresearch parallel to the familiar literary device of the
was becoming less relevant" (101-102). But "foil." Just as readers come to know Holmes
elsewhere, it is relevant and possible for the better throughcontrasts to his foil Watson, so
Panel to distinguish basic research from its does the public better learn about "science"
technologicalpotential, and to argue that the throughcontrasts to "non-science."
Soviets acquire militarily useful information Moreover,the analysis begins to identifyoc-
from non-scientific applications of scientific casions where boundary-work is a likely
knowledge. stylistic resourcefor ideologistsof a profession
Since Tyndall,the ideology of "the practical or occupation:(a) when the goal is expansion
benefits of pure science" has been used to jus- of authorityor expertise into domainsclaimed
tify public supportfor scientific research.With by other professions or occupations,
the ReaganAdministrationproposingcutbacks boundary-workheightensthe contrastbetween
in the budget of the U.S. National Science
Foundation,it may be politicallyexpedient to
emphasize once again the utilitarianjustifica- 2 More recent political developments must worry

tion of science. But in the context of "national the scientific community: Science (4 February
security"it may not help to play that song too 1983:473) reports that the Reagan Administration has
review of ways to control the
loudly,for to avoid governmentrestrictionson "launched aofhigh-level
scientific papers that contain certain
publication
scientific communication, some distance be- unclassified but militarily sensitive information . . .
tween basic and appliedscience mustbe estab- The review will be more concerned with how, rather
lished. Thus, the boundary between the pro- than whether, publication of such information should
duction and consumption of scientific knowl- be controlled." Boundary-work is not always suc-
edge remains ambiguous in the Report, but cessful, though this case is far from decided (cf.
usefullyso for scientists'pursuitof two distinct Chalk, 1983).
792 AMERICAN SOCIOLOGICAL REVIEW
rivals in ways flattering to the ideologists' side; cal fruits are placed "inside"science when the
(b) when the goal is monopolization of profes- goal is justification of public support for sci-
sional authority and resources, boundary-work ence, but they are excluded when the goal is
excludes rivals from within by defining them as protection of the autonomy of scientists from
outsiders with labels such as "pseudo," "de- governmentregulation.
viant," or "amateur"; (c) when the goal is pro- Both "strains" and "interests" help to ex-
tection of autonomy over professional activi- plain the ambiguous content of scientists'
ties, boundary-work exempts members from ideologies. Merton([1963]1976:33)arguesthat
responsibility for consequences of their work science, like any social institution, is "pat-
by putting the blame on scapegoats from out- terned in terms of potentiallyconflictingpairs
side. Because expansion, monopolization and of norms"(cf. Mitroff,1974).Scientists cannot
protection of autonomy are generic features of avoid ambivalence: for example, they should
"professionalization," it is not surprising to be "original" (by striving to be first to an-
find the boundary-work style in ideologies of nounce a significantdiscovery) but "humble"
artists and craftsmen (Becker, 1978) and physi- (by not fighting for one's priority if the dis-
cians (Freidson, 1970; Starr, 1982). The utility covery is announced by multiple inves-
of boundary-work is not limited to demarca- tigators). These juxtapositions of norm and
tions of science from non-science. The same counter-normdo more than create "innercon-
rhetorical style is no doubt useful for ideologi- flict among scientists who have internalized
cal demarcations of disciplines, specialties or both of them" (Merton, [1963] 1976:36):they
theoretical orientations within science. also provide ideologists with alternative re-
Kohler's recent study of biochemistry notes: pertoires for public descriptions of science.
"Disciplines are political institutions that de- Internalinconsistencies in what scientists are
marcate areas of academic territory, allocate expected to be provide diverse ideological re-
the privileges and responsibilities of expertise, sources for use in boundary-work.The three
and structure claims on resources" (1982:1). examples illustrate several antinomies in the
Analysis of the content of these ideologies institutionof science: scientificknowledgeis at
suggests that ""science" is no single thing: once theoretical and empirical, pure and
characteristics attributed to science vary applied, objective and subjective, exact and
widely depending upon the specific intellectual estimative,democratic(openfor all to confirm)
or professional activity designated as "non- and elitist (experts alone confirm), limitless
science," and upon particular goals of the and limited(to certaindomainsof knowledge).
boundary-work. The boundaries of science are If "strains" enable alternative repertoires,
ambiguous, flexible, historically changing, "interests" guide the selection of one or an-
contextually variable, internally inconsistent, other repertoire for public presentation.
and sometimes disputed. These ambiguities Ideologistsare able to endow science withjust
have several structural sources. First, charac- those characteristicsneeded to achieve profes-
teristics attributed to science are sometimes sional and institutionalgoals, and to change
inconsistent with each other because of scien- these attributed characteristics as circum-
tists' need to erect separate boundaries in re- stances warrant.Still, no one can accuse Tyn-
sponse to challenges from different obstacles dall, Edinburghanatomists, or the NAS Panel
to their pursuit of authority and resources. For of "bad faith": science is both pure and
Tyndall, the empirical and usefulfact was the applied, theoretical and empirical. To reduce
keystone of science as not-religion, but the ab- ideologies of science to illusions concocted
stract and pure theory was the keystone of sci- only to serve professionalinterestsassumes an
ence as not-mechanics. Second, the bound- unrealisticallygulliblepublic and a cynical and
aries are sometimes contested by scientists merely instrumentalistscientific community.
with different professional ambitions. Edin- But to reduce the ideologies to reflections or
burgh anatomists protected their claim to ex- resolutionsof strainsforgets that scientists too
pertise and authority by arguing that only spe- struggle for authority, power, and resources.
cialists could evaluate claims to scientific Neither strains nor interests are themselves
knowledge; Combe argued that scientific sufficient to explain the successful ideologies
claims were open to confirmation by anybody, of science.
an attempt to sell phrenology as "science" and This paperoffers one escape from seemingly
thus to surround his quasi-religious and politi- interminabledebates over the uniquenessand
cal reforms with "scientific" legitimacy. Third, superiority of science among knowledge-
ambiguity results from the simultaneous pur- producingactivities. Demarcationis as mucha
suit of separate professional goals, each re- practicalproblemfor scientists as an analytical
quiring a boundary to be built in different problemfor sociologists and philosophers.De-
ways. For the NAS Panel on scientific com- scriptions of science as distinctively truthful,
munication and national security, technologi- useful, objective or rationalmay best be ana-
BOUNDARY-WORKIN PROFESSIONALIDEOLOGIESOF SCIENTISTS 793
lyzed as ideologies: incompleteand ambiguous Collins, Harry and Trevor Pinch
images of science nevertheless useful for sci- 1982 Frames of Meaning: The Social Construc-
entists' pursuit of authority and material re- tion of Extraordinary Science. Boston:
sources. Routledge.
Comte, Auguste
[1853] Auguste Comte and Positivism: The Essen-
1975 tial Writings. Edited by Gertrud Lenzer. New
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Becker, Howard S. Culliton, Barbara J.
1978 "Arts and crafts." American Journal of 1983 "Science and secrecy." Science 220: 1257.
Sociology 83:862-89. Daniels, George H.
Bell, Daniel 1967 "The pure-science ideal and democratic
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