social studies of science
social studies of sciencethe interdisciplinary study of the social context in the production of SCIENCE. As such the approach overlaps with both the SOCIOLOGY OF SCIENCE and the SOCIOLOGY OF KNOWLEDGE, as well as the history and the PHILOSOPHY OF SCIENCE, although those most associated with the approach have increasingly sought to distance themselves from the latter, above all wishing to instate the primacy of an ‘empirical’ approach in social studies of science. Adopting the doctrine of the so-called 'strong version of the sociology of science’ (i.e. that 'science’ has to be explained by the same route as other forms of knowledge or belief, and can have no privileged status as ‘truth’ or be exempt from social explanation), has sometimes led those associated with the approach to be accused of relativism’. However, their intention is simply to place a study of science on the same basis as any other social phenomenon. Advocates of the approach are no more concerned to establish philosophical RELATIVISM than they have been to preserve traditional EPISTEMOLOGY.
Collins Dictionary of Sociology, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2000