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The Writings of Professor Robert M. Young

'How Societies Constitute their Knowledge: Prolegomena to a Labour Process Perspective'183k

I wrote this in 1979, as an attempt to provide an overview and proposal covering the whole sweep of social approaches to knowledge and to scientific knowledge, in particular. I was then asked to contribute to a collection edited by Karin Knorr-Cetina and Michael Mulkay, which was published as Science Observed (Sage), so I revised it for that setting. It is an ambitious piece, and I managed to say what I set out to say. Also, my father died soon after it was finished, so I dedicated it to him.Mulkay said it was too long, I felt unwilling to truncate it, and he agreed to publish it if I could get it into 40-50 pages. I did, but and after some deliberation he decided not to include it in the volume. I thought that a pity, since mine was, I think, the only radical point of view among the contributors. I then wrote to him to ask for his support in approaching the publisher with the idea for a separate volume. When he had not responded for a time I reminded him. I got a reply which is unique in my experience, saying that he thought I would take his failure to reply as declining to help,'which is what it was intended to be'. I have always thought of this as a striking example of a peculiarly English mode of insolence, I sometimes wonder if the labour process perspective would have had more impact in academic circles if the piece had appeared in that volume. In the event I was taken up with my television work and am only now making it public. I venture to say that it has aged well. I went to a conference on the future if the sociology of science, and these ideas seemed to me still well worth considering.

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Ian Pitchford and Robert M. Young - Last updated: 28 May, 2005 02:29 PM

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