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Science, Belief and SocietyInternational Perspectives on Religion, Non-Religion and the Public Understanding of Science$
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Stephen H. Jones, Tom Kaden, and Rebecca Catto

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781529206944

Published to Policy Press Scholarship Online: January 2020

DOI: 10.1332/policypress/9781529206944.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM POLICY PRESS SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.policypress.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Policy Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in PPSO for personal use.date: 25 June 2021

From ‘Science and Religion’ to ‘Transcendence in Science’, or: What We Can Learn from the (History of) Science and Technology Studies

From ‘Science and Religion’ to ‘Transcendence in Science’, or: What We Can Learn from the (History of) Science and Technology Studies

(p.103) 5 From ‘Science and Religion’ to ‘Transcendence in Science’, or: What We Can Learn from the (History of) Science and Technology Studies
Science, Belief and Society

Silke Gülker

Policy Press

This chapter begins by identifying an imbalance in the sociology of science and technology. Across sociology, hardly anyone would object to the idea that science is a social process. Science and technology studies and the sociology of science have deconstructed scientific work and revealed how it is socially embedded in many ways. From this perspective, scientific knowledge is co-produced by scientific and non-scientific actors in a process influenced by class, gender, and culture. Few authors, however, have investigated the role that religion might play in this process of knowledge production. This is striking because this relationship was one of the most important topics in the early stages of sociology of science, which is one of the forerunner fields of science and technology studies. This chapter discusses the work of two pioneering authors in sociology of science, Robert K. Merton and Ludwik Fleck. While Merton’s work can still be inspiring for contemporary investigations of the relationship between science and religion on a meso- and macro-level, Fleck’s concept of ‘thought collectives’ and ‘thought styles’ asks for comparative empirical studies on a micro-level. Against this background, the chapter presents an idea of how to implement such micro-level empirical work beyond the science versus religion dichotomy: specifically, by analyzing transcendence constructions, demonstrated here in the field of stem cell research.

Keywords:   Science and technology studies, Sociology of science, Robert Merton, Ludwik Fleck, Stem cell research

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