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Journal Article:

Author(s) :


Knorr-Cetina, K. D.

Date of Publication :


1995 Feb

Article Title :


How superorganisms change: Consensus formation and the social ontology of high-energy physics experiments.

Journal Title :


Social Studies of Science

Volume ID :



Pages(s) :



Abstract :


This paper suggests variation in the ways in which agreement, concurrence, conformity or stability in science is brought about, and the need to think not in terms of one model of consensus formation, but in terms of many. One variant which can be witnessed in scientific practice is exemplified in experimental high-energy physics (HEP); this variant relocates the problem in the early stages of an experiment, when the technology is fixed, the groups participating in the work are selected and the stage is set for results which - whether they are 'negative' or 'positive' - cannot be ignored by the relevant scientific field. The paper argues that consensus formation/stabilization is, at least at times, intricately connected to the social ontology of a domain. it proposes the 'superorganism' metaphor to articulate the ontology of HEP experiments, and describes the form of change of these experiments as genealogical change.

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