Re-Thinking ScienceKnowledge and the Public in an Age of Uncertainty
Re-Thinking Science
Knowledge and the Public in an Age of Uncertainty
Re-Thinking Science presents an account of the dynamic relationship between society and science. Despite the mounting evidence of a much closer, interactive relationship between society and science, current debate still seems to turn on the need to maintain a 'line' to demarcate them. The view persists that there is a one-way communication flow from science to society - with scant attention given to the ways in which society communicates with science.

The authors argue that changes in society now make such communications both more likely and more numerous, and that this is transforming science not only in its research practices and the institutions that support it but also deep in its epistemological core. To explain these changes, Nowotny, Scott and Gibbons have developed an open, dynamic framework for re-thinking science.

The authors conclude that the line which formerly demarcated society from science is regularly transgressed and that the resulting closer interaction of science and society signals the emergence of a new kind of science: contextualized or context-sensitive science. The co-evolution between society and science requires a more or less complete re-thinking of the basis on which a new social contract between science and society might be constructed. In their discussion the authors present some of the elements that would comprise this new social contract.
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  • March 2001
  • 288 pages
  • 160 x 237 mm / 6 x 9 in
Available Formats
  • Hardback $83.25
  • 9780745626079
  • Paperback $36.25
  • 9780745626086
  • Open eBook $29.00
  • 9780745657073
Table of Contents

Chapter 1: The Transformation of Society.

Chapter 2: Beyond Modernity - Breaching the Frontiers.

Chapter 3: The Co-Evolution of Science and Society.

Chapter 4: The Context Speaks Back.

Chapter 5: The Transformation of Knowledge Institutions.

Chapter 6: The Role of Universities in Knowledge Production.

Chapter 7: How does Contextualization Happen?.

Chapter 8: Weakly Contextualized Knowledge.

Chapter 9: Strongly Contextualized Knowledge.

Chapter 10: Contextualization in the Middle Range.

Chapter 11: From Reliable Knowledge to Socially Robust Knowledge.

Chapter 12: The Epistemological Core?.

Chapter 13: Science Moves to the Agora.

Chapter 14: Socially Distributed Expertise.

Chapter 15: Re-Visioning Science.

Chapter 16: Re-Thinking Science is not Science Re-Thought.



About the Author
Professor Nowotny is Chair of Social Studies of Science at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zurich

Professor Scott is Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive of Kingston University

Professor Gibbons is Secretary General of the Association of Commonwealth Universities

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'What you always wanted to know about the "knowledge society", Nowotny, Scott and Gibbons are telling it in Re-Thinking Science, the sequel to their much acclaimed book The New Production of Knowledge (1994). This is a splendid book, full of empirical insight and intellectual vision. Re-Thinking Science is reliable and robust at the same time.' Wolf Lepenies, Rektor, Institute for Advanced Study, Berlin

'The authors take us beyond the dichotomies of science and society in their ovular new work, Re-Thinking Science, into a new agora of interactive forces in which old institutional boundaries of science, industry and government are transcended. Re-Thinking Science re-thinks society.' Henry Etzkowitz, Director, Science Policy Institute, State University of New York at Purchase

'This book goes far beyond The New Production of Knowledge (1994), the earlier collection of essays by Michael Gibbons, Helga Nowotny and others. That book launched the debate on the trend towards a new regime for the production of knowledge and the practice of research ... Re-Thinking Science revisits these themes in the form of a single brilliant essay in social theory ... a splendid vision of a probable future world, in which science and society will increasingly overlap and be exposed to the growing expertise and contesting forces of the agora.' Nature

'This book is packed with novel and quite complicated ideas ... We look forward to a further harvest of sharp observations and deep interpretations in the next product from this outstanding scholarly team.' Interdisciplinary Science Review

'an enourmously important book, which deserves to be widely read and discussed.' Science as Culture

The book could be influential in providing sustenance to higher education managers as they struggle to find new definitions of what it means to be a university. Political leaders too would do well to study it in order to move their policy-making away from dependence on mode 1 ideas. The vision of the science of the future outlined in the book could perhaps have gone further. However, there is a balance to be struck between being influential and being visionary. This book will clearly be influential. The vision will hopefully grow." Studies in Higher Education

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