Cultural accounts of scientific ideas and practices have increasingly come to be welcomed as a corrective to previous—and still widely held—theories of scientific knowledge and practices as universal. The editors caution, however, against the temptation to overgeneralize the work of culture, and to lapse into a kind of essentialism that flattens the range and variety of scientific work. The book refers to this tendency as culturalism. The contributors to the volume model a new path where historicized and cultural accounts of scientific practice retain their specificity and complexity without falling into the traps of culturalism. They examine, among other issues, the potential of using notions of culture to study behavior in financial markets; the ideology, organization, and practice of earthquake monitoring and prediction during China’s Cultural Revolution; the history of quadratic equations in China; and how studying the “glass ceiling” and employment discrimination became accepted in the social sciences. Demonstrating the need to understand the work of culture as a fluid and dynamic process that directly both shapes and is shaped by scientific practice, Cultures without Culturalism makes an important intervention in science studies.
Contributors. Bruno Belhoste, Karine Chemla, Caroline Ehrhardt, Fa-ti Fan,Kenji Ito, Evelyn Fox Keller, Guillaume Lachenal, Donald MacKenzie, Mary S. Morgan, Nancy J. Nersessian, David Rabouin, Hans-Jörg Rheinberger, Claude Rosental, Koen Vermeir