College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences Theses and Dissertations

Graduation Date

3-2011

Document Type

Thesis

College/Department Conferring Degree

Sociology

Keywords

scientific knowledge, conflict theory, capital, natural history museum, actor network theory

Abstract

When the canonization of scientific knowledge is considered as a point of sociological inquiry the interrelations of popular culture, commerce, and enterprise become crucial elements to understanding how forms of knowledge are produced and reproduced. Scientific knowledge is an integral part of our social world. We use it to better understand the natural processes behind global climates, health issues, ecology and biology. And yet most individuals outside the field of production are unaware of the processes behind obtaining this knowledge. Museums with research and collections are an arena for this topic. Their operations persist in influencing the selection of knowledge forming fields of study in both direct and indirect ways. In this study, The Field Museum of Natural History is used as a focal point to analyze ways in which the operation of an institution coincides and/or conflicts with scientific research. Data was collected through direct personal observation, interviews and published financial and historical records. Results from this analysis show that institutional operations within a museum persist in influencing the selection of knowledge forming fields of study in both direct and indirect ways and add to the literature on scientific knowledge.

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