More documents from Mallard, Gregoire
More documents from Historical Social Research

Export to your Reference Manger

Please Copy & Paste



Bookmark and Share

Studying tensions between imaginary spaces and concrete places: the method of paired biographies applied to scientists' laboratory lives

Spannungen zwischen imaginativen Räumen und konkreten Orten: die Methode der 'gepaarten Biographie', angewandt auf das Leben von Wissenschaftlern in Laboren
[journal article]

Mallard, Gregoire

fulltextDownloadDownload full text

(598 KByte)

Citation Suggestion

Please use the following Persistent Identifier (PID) to cite this document:

Further Details
Abstract Spaces and places are at the center of the science studies scholarship. Some scholars focus on the spatial circulation of written traces; others focus on the socio-cultural hierarchies reflected in the spatial organization of the laboratories. But most privilege single-case studies as their research method. While single-case studies offer the advantage of providing rich and detailed ethnographic description of spaces, they often fail to explain how imaginary spaces of science are turned into concrete social settings, often with unexpected deviations from their creators’ initial purposes. This paper argues that a comparative approach, which I call “paired biographies,” can help us study the tensions between imaginary and real spaces of science. This method of paired biographies is applied here to trace the attempts (both failed and successful) by two prominent physicists (J.R. Oppenheimer and E.O. Lawrence) to turn their imaginary scientific spaces into concrete places. This comparative approach, based upon paired biographies of various laboratory lives taken at different points in time, highlights the tensions between imaginary spaces of science and concrete architectural forms (themselves located in broader environments), and shows which unexpected outcomes derive from these tensions.
Keywords zone; science; scientist; labor; ethnography; biography; history of science; gender
Classification Sociology of Science, Sociology of Technology, Research on Science and Technology
Free Keywords paired comparison; gendered spaces; Oppenheimer; nuclear science
Document language English
Publication Year 2014
Page/Pages p. 115-136
Journal Historical Social Research, 39 (2014) 2
Issue topic Spatial analysis
ISSN 0172-6404
Status Published Version; peer reviewed
Licence Creative Commons - Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works