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Science against modernism: the relevance of the social theory of Michael Polanyi

Thorpe, C; (2001) Science against modernism: the relevance of the social theory of Michael Polanyi. British Journal of Sociology , 52 (1) 19 - 35. 10.1080/00071310020023019.

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Abstract

Science, as an institution, is widely taken by sociologists to exemplify the modern tendency towards vesting trust and authority in impersonal offices and procedures, rather than in embodied human individuals. Such views of science face an important challenge in the social philosophy of Michael Polanyi. His work provides important insights into the continuing role of embodied personal authority and tradition in science and, hence, in late modernity. I explicate Polanyi's relevance for social theory, through a comparison with Weber's essay 'Science as a Vocation'. An understanding of the personal dimensions of trust and authority in science suggests practical limits to the position of Giddens on the disembedding of social relations and on the scepticism and reflexivity of modernity.

Type:Article
Title:Science against modernism: the relevance of the social theory of Michael Polanyi
DOI:10.1080/00071310020023019
Keywords:Science Authority Modernity Michael Polanyi Max Weber Anthony Giddens
UCL classification:UCL > School of BEAMS > Faculty of Maths and Physical Sciences > Science and Technology Studies

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