Patterns of Shaping Disciplines: The Trajectories of Seven Disciplines from the Social Sciences and Humanities in Seven European Countries Plus Argentina

Saturday, 21 July 2018: 09:54
Oral Presentation
Matthias DULLER, University of Graz, Department of Sociology, Austria
Christian FLECK, University of Graz, Dept of Sociology, Austria
Historians of science are seldom expanding their attention field beyond the 'hard sciences'. Sociologists studying their own or cognate fields seldom practice this self-reflexive habit in a comparative attitude. Instead of following an STS approach to the social sciences and humanities (SSH), such as Camic's, Gross's and Lamont's (2011) practice perspective, we propose a historical sociology of the SSH, comparing several disciplines in several countries over a significant time span. This paper offers for the first time basic data on the institutionalization of a set of seven SSH disciplines (anthropology, economics, literature, philosophy, political science, psychology, and sociology) in seven European countries (UK, France, Netherlands, Sweden, Germany, Italy, Hungary) plus Argentina for the period from the immediate aftermath of World War II to the present. During these 70+ years all SSH disciplines studied here were established in the higher education systems of each country and experienced remarkable increases of the number of faculties, graduates and output. However, these growths were neither simultaneous nor linear but show quite different rhythms across countries and disciplines. Strong growth was often followed by slowdowns or even contractions, which we call de-institutionalization. While our comparative data identifies different processes of institutionalization and de-institutionalization, instances of the latter are especially in need of explanation. The highly different systems of governance, differences in the political regime can explain some of these movements, but others are embedded in the higher education system itself. We therefore offer an alternative to the traditional internalist-externalist explanation of scientific growth.