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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

Mallard, Gregoire


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Weitere Angaben:
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.
Thesaurusschlagwörter zone; science; scientist; labor; ethnography; biography; history of science; gender
Klassifikation Wissenschaftssoziologie, Wissenschaftsforschung, Technikforschung, Techniksoziologie
Freie Schlagwörter paired comparison; gendered spaces; Oppenheimer; nuclear science
Sprache Dokument Englisch
Publikationsjahr 2014
Seitenangabe S. 115-136
Zeitschriftentitel Historical Social Research, 39 (2014) 2
Heftthema Spatial analysis
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.12759/hsr.39.2014.2.115-136
ISSN 0172-6404
Status Veröffentlichungsversion; begutachtet (peer reviewed)
Lizenz Creative Commons - Namensnennung, Nicht-kommerz.