Discovering Work as a Topic in Science & Technology Studies
Following some interesting work in the 1970s and 1980s, the topic of discovery gradually faded from prominence in social studies of science. Several reasons can be given for this disinterest in the topic: the rise of social constructivist science studies in the 1980s was accompanied by skepticism about individualistic and realist conceptions of discovery. In addition, with the rise of intellectual property concerns, the sciences themselves (especially the biomedical sciences) downplayed the idea of discovery in favor of more active conceptions of innovation. Consequently, talk of discovery, moments of discovery, and natural objects awaiting their discovery were dismissed as naïve. This paper reviews the concept of discovery and problems associated with it, and suggests that Harold Garfinkel’s conception of discovering work sets up a social research agenda that avoids individualistic, mentalistic, and realist conceptions.
Campus Unteres Schloss