Scientific knowledge and its contingency

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The boundaries between the representation of the social world – the knowledge about the world – and the “reality” of the social world are blurring within constructivistic approaches. This changes the focus on the production of scientific knowledge.

Social success in the scientific community inherits an endless process of doubting and self-doubting: whenever knowledge claims to be science it has to document the circumstances of its making and to refer to other scientific knowledges. It refers to knowledge which has shown to be wrong or incorrect – and just through this very own “scientific” practice of testing, proving and correcting it shows not the only one, the only true insight in reality, but the possibility of drawing different versions of the same topics. Unlike the expectations the practice of generating scientific knowledge, documented in habits like peer-reviewing or arguing at conferences, shows the contingency and fragility of scientific knowledge. The overall practice of scientific knowledge production is criticising knowledge. “Science often deals more with itself than with its subject” (Nassehi, w. j., 3). Science produces therefore even more uncertainty than certainty. Scientific knowledge and learning appears to be therefore – just as other forms of learning as well – as a special form of “bricolage” (cf. Freeman, 2007).

  • FREEMAN Richard (2007), Epistemological Bricolage. How Practioners Make Sense of Learning, in Administration and Society 37, 476-496.
  • NASSEHI Armin (w. J.), Making Knowledge Observable: Short Considerations about the Practice of „Doing Knowledge“. Manuscript.

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