Sociology of science

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Citation: Joseph Ben-David, Teresa A. Sullivan (1975) Sociology of science. Annual Review of Sociology (RSS)
DOI (original publisher): 10.1146/
Semantic Scholar (metadata): 10.1146/
Sci-Hub (fulltext): 10.1146/
Internet Archive Scholar (search for fulltext): Sociology of science


Sociology of science is an extensive literature review of the sociology of science published by Joseph Ben-David (who surveyed the literature several times in his career) and Tera Sullivan. The article was published in the Annual Review of Sociology however, unlike most annual review pieces, it is largely descriptive of the field and holds back from larger-scale theorizing. It is very much a survey.

It frames the sociological literature on science as concerned, "with the social conditions and effects of science, and with the social structures and processes of scientific activity."

The article breaks its survey up into consideration of the reward systems of science (i.e., reputation and norms and the stratification that emerges), the organization of science into formal structures and organizations and the relationship between science and technology, the role of leadership, and some work that describes a complicated literature on autonomy versus productivity in science.

The article then talks about the informal structure of science including a discussion of invisible colleges. It ends with a brief discussion of the relationship between science and politics (it argues that the two are kept pretty distinct).

Theoretical and Practical Relevance

Perhaps do the lack of theorizing, the article has not been widely cited. It is primary relevant as a good (and largely comprehensive) summary of the sociological literature on science up until that point rather than an obvious source for information on future work.