Chapter 17- science environment and society
o Sociologists of science look at the interactions between science and society.
o A paradigm is the framework within which scientists operate. There are particular
paradigms for particular branches of scientific research.
o According to Thomas Kuhn, normal science is the science conducted within an
existing paradigm. During the practice of normal science, discoveries may be
made that add to or clarify, but don’t challenge, the existing paradigm.
o Thomas Kuhn theorizes that scientific revolutions, also called paradigm shifts,
occur when enough anomalies accrue during the practice of normal science to
challenge the existing paradigm.
o Normative science is the notion that science is unaffected by the personal beliefs
or values of scientists but rather follows objective rules of evidence.
o In practice, however, social factors such as funding availability, government
policies (which in turn can be affected by interest groups), and international
pressure or competition can affect choices about what scientific research is
o Boundary work refers to research conducted on the border between legitimate
and non legitimate science, either within a specific scientific discipline or between
o Anthropologists Bruno Latour and Steve Woolgar claim that scientific facts don’t
just reveal themselves through experiments and research but are socially
constructed as scientists debate findings, discuss results, and work through
disagreements, all of which is influenced by unequal power relations between
o The Matthew effect, a term coined by Robert Merton, refers to the notion that
certain scientific results get more notice and have more influence based on the
existing prestige of the researchers involved.
Agriculture and the environment
o Global warming is the rising atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide and
other greenhouse gases as well as an increased in the average global temperature
o The majority of scientists agree that the roots of global warming can be linked to
human activity such as deforestation and the burning of coal, gas, and oil.
o At the same time, global warming is predicted to have a strong impact on human
society, primarily through devastating natural disasters such as prolonged heat
waves, larger and more frequent hurricanes, and debilitating droughts.
o The term “organic” is often used as a catchall for foods that are seemingly
healthy, “natural,” or produced on a small scale. In the United States specific
guidelines have to be followed in order for food products to be labelled “organic”
or “made with organic ingredients.” o The organic food market creates stratification in two ways: Because it is expensive
to maintain an organic farm, many smaller farmers are essentially priced out of
the organic farm market, which allows megafarms to dominate the market and
use their influence to change policies and guidelines to their advantage.
Moreover, because organic products are more expensive, high-income individuals
are much more likely to purchase them and reap their benefits than low-income
o Genetically modified foods, also referred to as genetically modified organisms
(GMOs), are products whose genetic structures have been altered, usually to
make them produce higher yields.
o Proponents argue that GMOs help bring down food prices, reduce dependence on
pesticides and herbicides, reduce waste, and can even provide vitamin and
mineral content that may be missing from a population’s diet—all of which is
particularly significant for developing countries.
o Critics of GMOs argue that they create risks to the environment and human health
that have not been adequately evaluated.
o Ulrich Beck devel