This essay explores how the distinctively anthropological concept of culture provides uniquely valuable insights into the workings of science in its cultural context. Recent efforts by anthropologists to dislodge the traditional notion of culture as a homogenous, stable whole have opened up a variety of ways of imagining culture that place power differentials, flux, and contradiction at its center. Including attention to a wide variety of social domains outside the laboratory, attending to the ways nonscientists actively engage with scientific knowledge, and focusing on the complex interactions that flow both into and out of research laboratories are ways the activities of both scientists and nonscientists can be situated in the heterogeneous matrix of culture. Three images - the citadel, the rhizome, and the string figure - allow us to picture the discontinuous ways science both permeates and is permeated by cultural life.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
- Sociology and Political Science
- Economics and Econometrics
- Human-Computer Interaction