The Manufacture of Knowledge

An Essay on the Constructivist and Contextual Nature of Science


  • K.D. Knorr-Cetina, University of Pennsylvania, USA

The anthropological approach is the central focus of this study. Laboratories are looked upon with the innocent eye of the traveller in exotic lands, and the societies found in these places are observed with the objective yet compassionate eye of the visitor from a quite other cultural milieu. There are many surprises that await us if we enter a laboratory in this frame of mind... This study is a realistic enterprise, an attempt to truly represent the social order of life in laboratories and institutes of research, just as they are. By bringing the philosophical issues to the surface as matters not of prejudgement but as matters of concern, Karin Knorr-Cetina has developed the first really positive challenge to the philosophy of science since the days of paradigms and internal definitions of meanings
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For courses in liberal studies of science, R & D studies, philosophy of science, and sociology of science


Book information

  • Published: July 1981
  • Imprint: PERGAMON
  • ISBN: 978-0-08-025777-8


We believe that Knorr's not only interesting and stimulating, it is also an important book. Her adventure as an observer in a scientific laboratory is in itself already a rather daring undertaking. She succeeds in organising and bringing forward her data in a very original way, connecting it with the know-how and ideas in the methodological field.
Communication, Cognition

An important work in the sociology of science with special significance for the protosciences. Recommended for the specialist.
Zetetic Scholar

Table of Contents

(partial) The scientist as a practical reasoner: introduction to a constructivist and contextual theory of knowledge

The scientist as an indexical reasoner: the contextuality and the opportunism of research

The scientist as an analogical reasoner: a principle of orientation and a critique of the metaphor theory of innovation

The scientist as a socially situated reasoner: from scientific communities to transscientific fields

The scientist as a literary reasoner, or the transformation of laboratory reason

The scientist as a symbolic reasoner or 'What do we make of the distinction between the natural and the social sciences?'

Conclusion: the major theses of the book