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The Legacy of Thomas Kuhn

  • Thomas Brante
Publiceringsår: 2006
Språk: Engelska
Dokumenttyp: Konferensbidrag


Sweden’s reception of Thomas Kuhn’s ‘The Structure’ did not differ significantly from other countries. In general terms, its enormous impact was based on three factors. A) ‘The Structure’ justified sociological investigations of the contents of science. Thus it opened up a new area of research, called the Sociology of Scientific Knowledge, Social Studies of Science, Post-Kuhnian Sociology of Science, and more recently, Studies of Science and Technology. B) It enabled new approaches and modes of analysis of extant disciplines, esp. the in social sciences, implying that various competing schools could be identified and competition between them explained as struggles for hegemony among incommensurable paradigms. This approach also facilitated studies of so-called science-based controversies, struggles for jurisdiction between professional groups, and more. C) It demonstrated that even the ‘exact’ sciences are based on temporary traditions, thereby questioning elitist conceptions of science as in constant progress, unfortunately also opening the door to numerous extreme, relativist speculations about the epistemological status of the sciences. In addition, due to its popularity the concept of paradigm was used in ever more areas, entailing that it became increasingly vague and lost its fruitfulness as a basic analytical tool for science studies.

Current debates about Kuhn can be seen as quasi-political attempts to undermine the importance of his seminal contribution to our understanding of classic science – perhaps a result of recent efforts to steer science into more applied, efficient and inter-disciplinary, that is, inter-paradigmatic, research.In my presentation these issues will be addressed, and I will attempt to place them in a specific Swedish historical and contemporary context.


  • Sociology (excluding Social Work, Social Psychology and Social Anthropology)
  • sociology
  • sociologi
  • philosophy of science
  • internalism
  • Thomas Kuhn
  • sociology of knowledge


The Reception of Thomas Kuhn in Sweden (2006)

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