A General Theory of Scientific/Intellectual Movements

by Scott Frickel, Neil Gross
A General Theory of Scientific/Intellectual Movements
Scott Frickel, Neil Gross
American Sociological Review
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AGeneralTheory of Scientific/Intellectual Movements

Scott Frickel Neil Gross

Tulane University Harvard University

The histories ofall modern scientific and intellectualfields are marked by dynamism. Yet, despite a welter ofcase study data, sociologists ofideas have been slow to develop general theories for explaining why and how disciplines, subfields, theory groups, bandwagons, actor networks, and other kindred formations arise to alter the intellectual landscape. Tofill this lacuna, this article presents a general theory of scientific/intellectual movements (SIMs). The theory synthesizes work in the sociology ofideas, social studies ofscience, and the literature on social movements to explain the dynamics ofSIMs, which the authors take to be central mechanisms for change in the world ofknowledge and ideas. Illustrating their arguments with a diverse sampling ofpositive and negative cases, they define SIMs, identify a set oftheoretical presuppositions, and offer four general propositions for explaining the social conditions under which SIMs are most likely to emerge, gain prestige, and achieve some level ofinstitutional stability.

he modem university sector has been chartory ofalmost every field ofstudy-from those acterized by intellectual dynamism ever already well established at the time of the scisince its inception in mid 19th-century Europe. entific revolution (e.g., philosophy) to those Having secured sufficient autonomy from relicoming of age in the mid-1800s (e.g., organic gious authorities that replacing an emphasis on chemistry) to those ofmore recent vintage-is the already known with the new spirit of disa history ofnew scientific or intellectual movecovery would not unduly compromise its supments that rose up to challenge established patport, the sector received positive reinforcement terns of inquiry, became the subject of for dynamism from a variety of sources: from controversy, won or failed to win a large numindustry, eager to profit from scientific and ber of adherents, and either became institutechnical advances; from the state, which sought tionalized for a time, until the next movement ideas on how to exert administrative control came along, or faded into oblivion.

Such a discontinuist vision of intellectual

over increasingly complex populations; from and scientific history, at odds with traditional

students, who wished for educations that would approaches to historiography which stressed

mark them as modem; and from ideologies of either the persistence of themes over long

scientific progress. As a consequence, the his-stretches oftime or the steady accumulation of knowledge, first gained notoriety in the early 1960s with the publication of Thomas Kuhn's ([ 1962] 1970) The Structure of Scientific Direct all correspondence to Scott Frickel,

Revolutions. Although Kuhn's book gave expresDepartmentofSociology,220Newcomb Hall,Tulane

sion to ideas already in the air, it was of semi

University, New Orleans, LA 70118 (sfrickel@

nal importance to sociologists who, refusing

tulane.edu). The authors are listed in alphabetical

the rationalist injunction against regarding ideas

order, but both contributed equally to the conceptu

as mixed up with the messiness of life, began

alization and writing of this article. The authors thank to explore the ways in which social processes

Jessica Berger Gross, Charles Carnic, Jerry Jacobs, Michele Lamont, and the three anonymous ASR and events shape the internal content of intel reviewers for helpful comments on an earlier draft. lectual and scientific inquiry (Fuller 2000;

AMERICAN SOCIOLOGICAL REvIEW, 2005, VOL. 70 (Apri1:204-232)

Zammito 2004). The driving forces in Kuhn's philosophy of scientific history-paradigmtransforming revolutions-were intrinsically social phenomena, comprising groups of scientists committed to a new theory, method, or conceptual framework. In the wake of Kuhn's contributions, sociologists of science investigated not only the conditions conducive to scientific growth (the subfield's main problem in the 1940s and 1950s under the influence of Robert K. Merton), but also the social processes that underlay intellectual change in particular scientific or intellectual fields, now understood in terms ofgroup, network, or institutional dynamics (Mulkay 1979; Shapin 1982).

This interest continues to animate scholars today. Sociologists of the social sciences and humanities, science studies researchers, and contextually oriented intellectual historians now routinely see the scientific and intellectual worlds as populated by such distinctly social entities as fields of research, disciplines, theory groups, bandwagons, actor networks, and invisible colleges. On the basis ofthis conceptualization, they have produced a large number ofcase studies documenting the complex social conditions and processes that made it possible for specific of such entities to gain control, if only for a limited time, of what Collins (1998) called the "intellectual attention space." These case studies range in subjectfromthe rise ofradical strains ofphilosophy and literary criticism in the United States during the Depression and their demise in later decades (Jumonville 1991) to late 20th-century transformations in biomedical research and clinical practice centered on oncogenes (Fujimura 1996) to any number ofmore modest rearrangements in the order of knowledge.

Over the course ofthe past 30 years, however, as these case studies have proliferated, the sociology of ideas, which we see as the theoretical rubric under which they all may be catalogued, has fragmented, like the rest of sociology (Carnic and Gross 2001). Niches have come to form around particular substantive specialties, and the nature of the intellectual networks has been such that those working in one specialty area (e.g., the contemporary biological sciences) generally have paid little attention to the contributions of those working on other far-removed areas such as the history of early 20th-century sociology or 19th-century


brain research. As a result, general theories of intellectual dynamism, which ideally should take shape in light of the welter of case study data from across the entire intellectual and scientific spectrum, have been slow to emerge.

Our goal in this article is to present and make a prima facie case for a theory of this sort, a "general theory ofscientific/intellectual movements," or more simply, our "general theory." The theory seeks to answer the question, under what social conditions is any particular scientific/intellectual movement, or SIM (whose nature we clarify shortly), most likely to emerge, gain adherents, win intellectual prestige, and ultimatelyacquire some level ofinstitutionalstability?

The approach we take to answering this question is both inductive and synthetic. It is inductive because our general theory consists of propositions that attempt to make sense ofmany empirical cases. In the interests of parsimony, we have reduced these propositions to four, although each conceals considerable complexity.The theory is synthetic because these propositions also are informed by the diverse theoretical contributions of those who have restricted themselves to the study ofparticular intellectual fields, contributions that we seek to bring together under a unifying theoretical umbrella.

Because we have pursued this theory-building strategy, the only novelty the theory can claim relates to the nature of the synthesis it offers. In this regard we have been guided by a single assumption: that SIMs are similar in certain respects to social movements. Therefore, insights drawn from the literature on social movements can be used to shed light on the processes through which successful and unsuccessful SIMs form.

We are not the first to note the parallels between SIMs and social movements (Bucher 1962; Bucher and Strauss 1961; Fuchs and Plass 1999; Fuller 2000; Wuthnow 1989; Zald and Berger 1978).1Indeed, one frontier ofresearch in the sociology of science consists of work that analyzes how social movements for environmental justice, say,or gay and lesbian rights, have been able to shape the agendas and

1 However, we believe we are the first to use the term SIMs, and to conceptualize them as we do here.

methods ofscience itself (Allen 2003; Epstein 1996). Such work naturally calls for comparisons between SIMs, variously understood, and social movements. At the same time, it has long been recognized that some social movements (e.g., 19th-century socialism or second-wave feminism) occur simultaneously outside and inside the intellectual arena (Messer-Davidow 2002; Wuthnow 1989). Few scholars who have noted the similarities and sometimes blurry boundaries between SIMs and social movements, however, have moved beyond discussing them in analogical terms (Ross 1976). In contrast, we draw directly on social movements theory in constructing our key propositions, which center on the importance to SIMs of grievances, opportunity structures, micromobilization contexts, and collective action framing.

To illustrate our arguments, we have selected numerous and diverse empirical cases from across the natural, social, and administrative sciences, as well as the humanities. Because our theory is designed primarily to explain SIMs in modern scientific and intellectual fields, our examples-almost all North American and Western European-are taken from the historical period beginning in the 1830s with the organizational bureaucratization ofresearch in German universities (Ben-David 1971). Whereas the vast majority of empirical work examines successful SIMs, we pay special attention to the slim body of research on those that failed because this provides counterfactual evidence to render more plausible our theoretical claims.! In presenting our theory in this way,we risk dismissal by those who would insist that each of our propositions must be confirmed through a more systematic examination of known cases. We look forward to such examination in the future, but the aim of this article is theory building. Although our general theory was inductivelyderived,wecite empirical evidence only to elaborate and flesh out our hypotheses, in hope that the resulting framework may help channel future research in useful directions.

2 On the tendency of the sociology of ideas to focus exclusively on successful SIMs, see McLaughlin (1998).


Because the SIMs studied by sociologists are diverse, we need a way of defining them that captures their important commonalities without ignoring importantdimensions ofvariation.The most abbreviated defmition is this: SIMs are collective efforts to pursue research programs or projects for thought in the face of resistance from others in the scientific or intellectual community. This definition is a shorthand way of referring to the following assumptions.

1. At their core, SIMs have a more or less coherent program for scientific or intellectual change or advance. However conceptualized and implemented, these programs involve the transformation ofthoughts or research fmdings into ideas and knowledge that are circulated widely within the intellectual community, subjected to scrutiny and contestation, embraced by some and rejected by others, and that may emerge from the process deemed credible or true. Of course, creating knowledge is something many social movements can claim to do as well. But for SIMs, the production and diffusion of ideas and knowledge is the central goal. This is not to say that all participants in a SIM will agree as to the meaning ofits ideational or knowledge core. As is also is the case with social movements, internal contention over movement identity is commonplace, a point we fold into our theory later. However, we would restrict our definition ofa SIM to a movement toward whose knowledge core participants are consciouslyoriented, regardless oftheirunderstanding of it.3

According to this definition, the late 19thand early 20th-century pragmatist movement in American philosophy and other disciplines would be a SIM because, disagreements between C. S. Peirce, William James, George Herbert Mead, and John Dewey aside, all participants in the movement recognized that they were philosophizing in broadly similar ways (Mills 1964). Our definition would rule out the

3 We leave it to other theories to explain diffuse changes in thought that few observers at the time recognized as a movement, but which have been so recognized later through historical scholarship.

long-term changes in European historiography analyzed by Hayden White (1978), as well as the human and medical science "epistemes" studied by Michel Foucault (1972), none of which involved consciously directed collective action. With respect to the cases considered by these authors, some intellectual actors may have been aware of a change taking place in their fields, but our interest is in those movements that actors can and do name.

2.The aforementionedcore consists ofintellectual practices that are contentious relative to normative expectations within a given scientific or intellectual domain. To be sure, some SIMs are so successful that their ideas eventually become normative. But a movement is a SIM by our definition only if, at the time of its emergence, it significantly challenges received wisdom or dominant ways of approaching some problem or issue and thus encounters resistance.Ciradualorincrementalchanges--thestuff of Kuhn's ([1962] 1970) "normal science"--are best understood from the standpoint of institutional drift. By contrast, SIMs involve dramatic breaks with past practices.' For example, the law and society movement in legal scholarship during the 1950s and 1960s involved a concerted effort to replace the "law on the books" approach with a "law in action" approach indebted to the theories and methods of the social sciences. Contentious at the time, it battled forlegitimacy inan intellectualenvironment weddedtotraditionaljurisprudential scholarship (Tomlins 2000).

3. Precisely because the intellectual practices recommended by SIMs are contentious, SIMs are inherently political. Of course, the explicit aim of some SIMs--for example, queer theory inthe field ofcultural studies (Seidman 1996)is to make an intellectual contribution that may havethe effect ofaltering distributions ofpower or recognition in society as a whole. But it is not primarily in this sense that we speak ofSIMs as politicalbecause many SIMshaveno suchinten

4 Of course, what constitutes a dramatic break with past practices will depend on the specific intellectual context and scope ofthe case in question. For this and other instances in which we use descriptive language in building general theoretical claims, we assume that such language will be understood in context-relative terms.


tions. Instead, we describe SIMs as political in the Weberian sense of relating to "interests in the distribution, maintenance, or transfer of power" (Weber [1919] 1946:78) because every program for intellectual change involves a desire to alter the configuration of social positions within or across intellectual fields in which power, attention, and other scarce resources are unequally distributed (Bourdieu 1988; Ringer 1990). Often, movement participants hope to catapult themselves and like-minded others into positions ofgreater intellectualpowerand influence, or to shore up such positions when they are threatened, as when academic biologists in the 1960s criticized space biology or "exobiology" on the grounds that "such a chase after pure imaginings would divert resources away from earth-bound biology research" (Strick 2004:140).

We need not, however, ascribe uniformly careerist motivations to SIM participants. Some may have them, but others may aim to amass prestige and influence simply because they fervently believe in the intellectual merit of the SIM program and seek a venue from which to carry it forward. There also is no reason to assume that all SIMs aim for dominance ofthe intellectual field because this would unnecessarily exclude those, such as the movement in 19th-century Germany to institutionalize morphology as the biological study ofform (Nyhart 1995), that carve out relatively small niches for themselves, niches whose emergence, however, still involves a reconfiguration of the field.

4. Scientific/intellectual movements are constituted through organized collective action. The emergence ofnew social forms in science and academe invariably requires some level of spatial, temporal, and social coordination. The ideas of movement leaders take shape against the backdrop of their positioning in high-status intellectual networks to which they had to be admitted by someone. To become influential, those ideas then had to make their way into publication, requiring the cooperation ofpeer reviewers, editors, and publishers. New technologies such as instruments and specimens and new editions of books linked to the SIM need to be refined, produced, made commercially viable, and distributed to researchers. Jobs for SIM participants have to be found, conferences organized, special issues ofjournals edited, grant support obtained, and the like. Without all this more or less coordinated social activity, which at the most general level can be understood as involving processes of "enrollment" in the sense given to that term by actor-network theory (Latour 1987), SIMs simply would not exist. 5 We therefore take it as axiomatic that SIMs are sui generis social phenomena, and that an adequate sociohistorical understanding ofthem cannot be had by focusing exclusively on the actions or contributions of anyone individual (e.g., the intellectual leader of the movement) except insofar as those actions affect the web of social relationships that comprises the SIM.

Scientific/intellectual movements are episodic phenomena. Although historians may disagree abouttheprecise moment oftheirbirth or death, it is clear that SIMs exist as historical entities for finite periods. Nicholas Mullins's (1973) data on theory groups in American sociology, which indicate that successful SIMs require between one and two decades to stabilize as identifiable specialties, suggest a temporal pattern ofdevelopmentthat futureresearch on other disciplines mayor may not confirm. Whatever the eventual findings in this regard, the birth of a SIM often is marked by the announcement of a bold new intellectual program, and its death either by the effective disappearance of the movement from the intellectual scene or by its transformation into a more stable institutionalized form such as a school of thought, subfield, or discipline.
Finally, we note that SIMs can vary in intellectual aim and scope. Some problematize previously undiscussed or underdiscussed topics, as was the case for the field of holocaust studies as it developed in Europe, North America, and Israel from the 1960s on (Horowitz 2001). Others, like the new criticism in literary studies, which emphasized a for
5 Although we regard some minimum level of coordination as one of the defining features of a SIM,justassome minimumlevel ofcoordinationby two or more activists is a defining feature ofa social movement, by no means do we assume that all SIMs involve extensive coordination. For this reason, there is no tautology in explaining the success of a SIM, as we do in subsequent sections, partly as a function ofitsaccess toresources thatallowitgreatly toratchet up its coordination levels.

malist approach to texts and flourished in the United States during the mid-20th century, seek to introduce entirely new theoretical perspectives on established terrain (Graff 1987). Some SIMs distinguish themselves through new methods and rule-making procedures, as seen in the accounting and actuarial sciences described by Porter (1995). Other SIMs aim to alter the boundaries of existing scientific or intellectual fields, such as biochemistry or molecular biology, two of the most prominent disciplinary hybrids of the 20th century. Still others blur the boundary between science and nonscience, such as the late 19th-century British statistician Francis Galton's eugenicist program (Paul 1995) or the current calls for a new "sustainability science" organized in concordance with environmentalist values (Kates et al. 2001).

Relative to dominant intellectual practices at the time of their emergence, SIMs may be progressive, pushing the field forward in new directions,or reactionary,urging a revival ofpast ideas to counter what are perceived as pernicious current tendencies, such as Allan Bloom's (1987) calls for the reestablishment ofa classical humanities curriculum. Some SIMs may be terribly ambitious, such as the effort of Durkheim and his followers to found the discipline of sociology in France (Clark 1973), whereas others are less so. The fact that SIMs can vary so much in their aims, however, should not obscure the features they all have in common, features that mark them as objects for sociological study.


To help us steer clear of potential misunderstandings, we next briefly enumerate the theoretical presuppositions that underlie our general theory. The justifications for these presuppositions have been discussed at length by others and we do no more than point to these discussions.

1. We follow the "strong program" in the sociology ofscientific knowledge in refusing to consider the intrinsic truth of an idea as the sole cause ofits popularity (Barnes 1977; Bloor 1991). The truth ofideas must always be established and certified through social processes, and it is these that the strong program aims to recover. Our general theory of SIMs similarly assumes that every instance oftruth has a "social history" that must be explained, although we certainly recognize that the certification of an idea as true within some scientific or intellectual community may facilitate the formation and institutionalization of a SIM around it (on this point, see Shapin 1992).6

Although we assume a priori that scientific and intellectual fields are hierarchically structured sites of contestation in which agents vie with one another for scientific or intellectual prestige, we acknowledge that fields are historically emergent phenomena. Particular fields at particular points in time vary with respect to their internal social structure and academic practices, and these conditions may facilitate or hinder SIM growth and institutionalization (Whitley 1984). Thus, although we see our theory as broadly applicable to all modem scientific and intellectual fields, we recognize that processes of SIM emergence may play out differently in fields organized around different logics of material and cultural production (Knorr-Cetina 1999).
Although the fields in which SIMs develop are relatively autonomous from wider cultural and political--economic contexts, we take it as axiomatic that SIMs are influenced by direct or indirect pressures emanating from the broader cultural and political environment. Key actors within the larger environment include the state, religion, industry, education systems, and social movements. Any or all ofthese may shape the interests, needs, identities, worldviews, and topical foci of intellectual actors engaged in SIM projects, thus providing impetus for intellectual or institutional change. However, against the tendency associated with the older Mannheimian sociology of knowledge to describe the relationship between these features ofthe external environment and SIMs
6 In this article we make no effort to distinguish a 81M from a scientific or intellectual fad or fashion (Sperber 1990). Following the strong program, we regard this distinction as insufficiently impartial to serveasa frameworkonwhichthesociology ofideas can build because the judgment that a movement is "only a fad" and not a "true" SIM typically reflects the scholar's own assessment of its value. Accordingly, while recognizing that the long-term effect of a SIM on its field of production can vary considerably, we regard such variation as an outcome to be explained rather than a criterion for defining SIMs.


with vague notions such as affinity and fit (Mannheim [1936] 1991; Merton [1949] 1968:515), and against functionalist efforts, whether systems-theoretical or Marxist, to explain SIMs in terms of macro-level functional exigencies (Marcuse 1964; Parsons 1951), our general theory insists that the precise mechanisms whereby a field's external environment shapes a SIM must be specified.

4. Finally, we presuppose that the social relationships among the individual and corporate actors who collectively comprise a SIM can be measured, if only crudely; that the social conditions to which these actors are subject also can be measured; and that SIM success or failure can be measured as well. Therefore, we assume that the core propositions ofthe theory can be empirically tested.


We next outline four propositions concerning the dynamics ofSIM emergence. Although our discussion ofconcrete empirical cases as examples may appear to moveus in the direction ofgreater specificity as to how precisely these propositions would apply in different sociohistorical contexts, such an interpretation is premature. Although the theory is sufficiently concrete to point researchers in useful directions, we leave it to others to iron out the complexities, ambiguities, and historical nuances, as well as the exact scope conditions. Our general theory is intended merely as a starting point for this collective endeavor.

To this caveat we must add one more: each of our propositions contains an implied ceteris paribus clause. We take it that no special justification for this is required.



Behind every instance ofSIM emergence stands a set of experiences that triggers intellectual collective action. Although these experiences may be linked to any number of driving concerns, we contend that a feature associated with the inception of nearly all SIMs is dissatisfaction with what are perceived to be the dominant intellectual practices or expectations in a given field or set of fields." Indeed, the social-psychological experience of grievance is so universally prevalent in the relevant historical literature that we take it to be a necessary condition for the emergence of a SIM. In this, we parallel earlier work in social movements that took socially recognized grievances or relative deprivation to be a central condition for mobilization (Gurr 1970). Others studying intellectual change in science and the academy have made similar claims. Kuhn ([1962] 1970), for example, described the dissatisfactions experienced by actors as doubts concerning the truth or wisdom of prevailing approaches. He argued that new paradigms emerge in moments ofscientific crisis when research anomalies related to old paradigms have built up beyond a tolerable level. The philosopher Charles Peirce ([1877] 1986) made the similar point that scientific or intellectual doubt, no matter how abstract the subject matter, is experienced by thinkers as a psychologically disruptive irritation or crisis, and that it is in part the desire to overcome this irritation that leads to scientific and intellectual invention and innovation.

These observations are useful, but do not go far enough. Doubt can be occasioned in a variety of ways, and not simply through the accumulation of anomalous research findings. Generational shifts may occur in the personnel who comprise an intellectual field, with cadres ofyoungerresearchersless invested inoldparadigms and more open to new interpretations of data, as was the case in debates regarding the theory ofcontinental drift among geoscientists during the first halfofthe 20th century (Stewart 1990). Or there may be a lack offit between the worldviews of aspiring young thinkers and the main intellectual tendencies of the day, forged

7 In correspondence, Charles Carnic has cautioned that careful biographical investigation involving analysis ofbehind-the-scenes documents is essential for distinguishing the emotional and intellectual energies that actually motivate intellectual action from those that actors retrospectively claim to have fueled their efforts. We acknowledge that not all the historical work informing our theory is based on this kind ofanalysis. Here, as elsewhere, we regard our proposition as a hypothesis in need of testing, not as a securely established finding.

during earlier eras. This could lead easily to complaint and doubt about how to proceed. General differences in outlook or value sets help explain the rise of radical movements among medical and urban planning professionals during the 1970s, for example (Hoffinan 1989), and among Polish physicians and other "critical intellectuals" during the 1980s (Kennedy 1990; see also Amsterdamska 1987). On other occasions, individuals with different social backgrounds and concerns may enter the academy (e.g., women and people of color beginning in the 1960s), find that the work being done there fails to resonate with their life experiences, and endeavor to create new fields such as women's studies or African American studies (Messer-Davidow 2002; Small 1999). Thinkers may become cognizant of important theoretical shifts occurring in other intellectual fields, wish to incorporate those shifts into their own work, and become dissatisfied that this is not taking place in the main centers ofdisciplinary power, as seems to be happening in sociology and anthropology currently among those who want to build on the findings ofcognitive science (D'Andrade 1995; DiMaggio 1997; Turner 2002). In some instances, new metaphors or technologies may call into question old ways of thinking about things, as seen in cybernetics, which describes both living and nonliving systems through informational metaphorsofcontrol and communication (Apter 1972), or in genetic engineering technologies that increase exponentially the availability of biological materials to experimenters (Rabinow 1996). Still other cases may involve unexpected discoveries, for example, of pulsars or quasars (Edge and Mulkay 1976), that introduce researchers to entirely new objects whose existence begs description and explanation.

Whatever the processes involved, we argue that those who develop the initial theoretical or research program of a SIM, or who join its ranks shortly thereafter, would only do so, given the professional risks involved, if they genuinely felt something was wrong or, at minimum, incomplete in terms of the way the field was proceeding currently, and came to believe that the program of the SIM, as they may have formulated it, represented a course correction. Theformulation ofaSIMtherefore alwaysrepresents an effort, whether implicit or explicit, at differentiation from prevailing intellectual practices.

With this argument, we depart somewhat from the accounts of scientific and intellectual life found in the theoretical frameworks of Bourdieu (1988; 2004) and Collins (1998). In their view, most scientists and intellectuals are looking to amass prestige or attention relative to others and, through the lens ofthe academic habitus, regard SIMs first and foremost as vehicles for the achievement of these aims. According to this theory, SIMs emerge more from opportunity than from doubt. Our view, however, is that this position unnecessarily flattens out variation in the motives of intellectual actors (Alexander 1995; Lamont 2001). Although some scientists and intellectuals get involved with SIMs for strategic reasons relating to the pursuit of career interests, we find it difficult to believe that the quest for prestige and status is the sole motive shaping intellectual innovation. Rather, as Bourdieu and Collins both acknowledged, the intellectual sphere provides a richly variegated "vocabulary of motives" (Mills 1940) that actors may draw upon in explaining their intellectual moves to themselves and others. As we see it, these vocabularies, when deeply internalized, may in fact form much of the basis for actors' orientations toward the scientific and intellectual worlds they inhabit. In modem intellectual fields, such vocabularies tend to emphasize intellectual dissatisfaction as a prerequisite for agitation aimed at altering afield's course. Our first proposition reflects the sedimentation ofthis configuration of meanings. We agree with Bourdieu and Collins that opportunities for strategic gain may sometimes subconsciously give rise to intellectual dissatisfaction, but we do not see much theoretical or empirical warrant for the claim that SIM-catalyzing dissatisfaction arises only or primarily in response to opportunities.8

8 For both Bourdieu and Collins, it is only the small subset ofintellectuals inhabiting the deep core oftheir fields who internalize the SIM viewpoint so thoroughly that they do not have to think strategically at all. They and they alone regard the SIM as a matter of principle. Although our theory draws the differences between the mindsets of core and other intellectuals more loosely, and recognizes more nonstrategicactionthan Bourdieuand Collinsdo, thisdis-


Nevertheless, grievances are ubiquitous in academe, as they are in society more generally. Just as the mere existence of disgruntled workers or students does not in itself explain mobilizations for worker's rights or student antiwar protests, neither is intellectual dissatisfaction among knowledge workers sufficient to explain the rise of SIMs. The general understanding among students of social movements that grievances are too constant a factor to explain the tremendous variation across movements in levels and success of mobilization applies also to SIMs. Accordingly, even as we depart from Bourdieu and Collins in one respect, we follow them in maintaining that SIM emergence is conditional upon complaints and doubts being felt and acted upon by high-status intellectual actors, by which we mean actors situated in high-status intellectual networks." Generally speaking, it is older intellectuals who occupy prestigious positions (often in prestigious departments) as well as their younger proteges who will be in the best position to lead aSIM.

With proven track records in research and the security oftenure behind them, established scholars are in possession of more scientific and social capital to invest in SIMs than either younger or less distinguished colleagues. Established scholars also face lower professional risks relative to other intellectuals who have less credibility to lose. These older highstatus individuals furthermore enjoy a type of access or freedom that others in the field do not: the expectation ofadministrators and colleagues that intellectuals inhabiting highly coveted occupational niches will produce maverick ideas.

tinction does have important implications for the ways in which different types of high-status intellectuals may go about building SIMs, as we note later.

9 Rare in the history ofmodern thought are prominent figures who began their careers either as autodidacts or as thinkers trained at the margins of disciplinary status structures. The case of Gregor Mendel patiently cross-breeding peas in an Alpine parsonage, his research on the mechanisms ofinheritance all but lost to biology for four decades before its rediscovery launched the era of modern genetics (Zirkle 1951), illustrates this rule. It also illustrates a counterpoint: unlike Mendel, the histories ofmost intellectuals at the margins of their fields remain unwritten.

Intellectuals at the top oftheir field are, to a certain extent, freed from normative constraints and encouraged to be playful and creative in their intellectual work (Gouldner 1965; Guetzkow,Lamont, and Mallard 2004).Thus we expect that conceptual innovations of the sort that trigger SIMs will tend to be generated from the top precisely because the top tends to accommodate conceptual innovators.

Other SIM leaders will be drawn from pools ofyounger scholars whose intellectual genealogies include connections to high-status networks, but whose professional position does not insulate them as well from the normative demands oftheir field. This is so because, especially as the procedures for entry into postcollegiate education have been rationalized, the odds have become good that those with the intellectual potential to make major contributions will have been identified at a relatively early stage in the game and channeled toward the major centers for academic training, which are precisely those that confer the highest status (Cole 1989). Additionally, because those intellectuals at the pinnacle ofdisciplinary status structures have the power to define what counts as path-breaking scholarship (through their editorship of journals, control over academic positions, and influence with funding agencies), those who have trained under them will come to possess skills-ways offormulating arguments, strategies for selecting research topics, mastery ofcutting-edgemethodologies, and the like-that give them a comparative advantage when it comes to launching their own careers and intellectual projects (Collins 1998).

Therefore, although intellectual grievances are commonplace, in our view it is when highstatus thinkers and researchers become discontented with the dominant approaches in their field that SIM emergence becomes more likely. As we note later, thinkers in lower-status positions do have crucial roles to play in SIMs. Nevertheless, a SIM is ultimately dependent on the contributions of its intellectual leaders, who articulate its program and do the intellectual or scientific work that comes to be seen as the hallmark ofthe movement.

Examples of SIMs born from the dissatisfactions and doubts ofhigh-status intellectuals abound. One is the rise ofethnomethodology in theUnitedStatesinthe 1960s,aresult ofHarold

Garfinkel's opposition to his own mentor's intellectual project, namely, that ofHarvard's Talcott Parsons, one ofthe most high-status sociologists ofhis day (Heritage 1984; Mullins 1973: chapter 8). Another is the growth of analytic philosophy at Oxford in the first half of the 20th century, as described by Kuklick (2001). The roots of British analytic philosophy lie in the contributions ofG. E. Moore, Bertrand Russell, and the young Ludwig Wittgenstein, who, opposing and experiencing doubts about the previously influential Hegelianism of British thinkers such as T. H. Green, and with it all metaphysics, "looked at philosophy as an activity that clarified ordinary talk and the structure ofscience" (p. 244). Propositions, they argued, must always be expressed through language. Therefore, they insisted, gaining insight into the nature ofpropositions demands an abiding concern with the philosophy oflanguage. Like the logical positivists ofthe Vienna Circle, early British analytic philosophers relied on symbolic logic to gain clarity in their investigations, and heaped derision upon philosophical traditions that had been largely unconcerned with logic and thus had been prone, in their view, to sloppy reasoning. After World War II, at a time when the prestige of science was at its height, and when academics in all fields sought to reconceptualize themselves as technical professionals, analytic philosophy held great appeal for talented philosophers at Oxford and elsewhere who championed its program in vigorous opposition to what they saw as lingering metaphysical currents.

Abir-Am's (1987) analysis of the "Biotheoretical Gathering" and its efforts at Cambridge to "recast the historical relationships between the physical and the biological sciences" (p. 9) provides counterfactual evidence for our first proposition. This "scientific Bloomsbury'"? convened a series offour-day meetings between 1932 and 1938 that became "a vehicle for transforming personal alienation from both the social and the scientific orders

101.D.Bernal,JosephNeedham, C.1.Waddington,

1.H.Woodger,and Dorothy Wrinch werethe group's five core founding members. Four ofthe five came from upper-middle-class families, and all held leftwing political views, some, like the communist Bernal, outspokenly.

into a springboard for collective creativity" by constructing a new discourse and promoting a new research program-awkwardly termed "mathematico-physico-chemical morphology"-that directly challenged the classical scientific order (p. 10). Whereas biochemistry and biophysics represented the incursion of chemistry and physics, respectively, into biology, the Biotheoretical Gathering sought a true synthesis that would reflect rough epistemological parity among the contributing disciplines. Their avant-garde ideas, including a commitment to the pursuit oftransdisciplinary knowledge and a team-based approach to research and administration, were at odds with classical reductionist, hierarchically ordered science and science policy defended by the "Oxbridge establishment." Initially, the group's university connections provided important advantages that allowed core members to gain institutional footholds for their program. But as young leftist researchers promoting an agenda that departed radically from established scientific practice, their connections to high-status networks eventually proved insufficient to overcome the weight of disciplinary authority. The Biotheoretical Gathering's theoretical and empirical project never gained the level ofinstitutional support needed to bear fruit, and the group disbanded.


Outside the sociological literature, SIMs are often conceptualized as more or less spontaneous phenomena. The cultural zeitgeist moves in a certain direction, the ideas of a SIM have an affinity with it, and suddenly large numbers of intellectuals become taken with the movement (e.g. Eagleton 2003). This perspective is particularly prevalent in historical accounts written by insiders, but it also has roots in the soci010gy of knowledge as formulated by figures such as Marx and Mannheim. Our view, shared by others (Camic 1983), is that this perspective presents an overly idealistic and undertheorized account ofintellectual dynamism, one that the resource mobilization theory tradition in social movement scholarship helps to counter. According to this school of thought, which arose largely in reaction to the grievance or


strain theory of social movement emergence noted earlier, participants in social movements are conceived as savvy political strategists rather than irrational or simply reactive actors. As such, they assess the opportunities available to them and their cause both inside and outside the formal political arena and work with others to transform the resources at their disposal (e.g., money, personnel, media attention) into political gains (McCarthy and Zald 1973; 1977; Tilly 1978).

Like social movements, SIMs do not just happen, but once their key ideas are formulated, they must be orchestrated, coordinated, and collectively produced. For this to occur, opportunities for gaining access to resources are imperative. At a basic level, each participant in a SIM is situated first and foremost in a local context of action, typically a research and!or teaching position at a college, university, or laboratory. This context presents her or him with certain mundane exigencies that must be resolved: deciding which lines of research to pursue, seeking grants, trying to get articles and books published, amassing credibility, navigating the difficulties ofteaching, engaging in discussion and correspondence with colleagues, attending conferences, developing a meaningful sense ofintellectual identity,and the like. Just as a social movement will be successful only insofar as it helps individuals overcome various practical barriers to movement participation (e.g., the threat oflegal sanctions or the need for transportation to a protest site), so too a SIM's success is dependent on its capacity to help scientists and intellectuals collectively "get by" given the everyday life circumstances they face. At a collective level, this means that SIMs need access to precisely those resources that are central to the everyday work lives of individual thinkers, and which therefore make it possible for them to continue their involvement with a movement. Beyond this, the intellectual activities ofindividual movement participants must be coordinated if the movement is to cohere: edited volumes have to be published, conferences organized, collective attention brought to particular intellectual problems, and so on. Coordination too requires resources.

Thus it is that SIMs, like social movements, are always busy trying to secure and mobilize both endogenous and exogenous resources. Also like social movements, SIMs are often forced to

do so in a context of resource scarcity, further intensified because of competition with other movements. Borrowing another concept from the social movements literature, we refer to the total amount and kind ofresources objectively available to a SIM and a SIM's autonomy visa-vis those resources as its opportunity structure.'! Opportunity structures that afford SIM participants broad license to use available resources with relative impunity are better, from a SIM emergence perspective, than opportunity structures that place conditions on the use of available resources, be they an experimental physics team's allotment of time on a particle accelerator (Traweek 1988), a plant pathology laboratory's ability to publish work conducted on industry-owned substances (Kleinman 2003), or Lysenko-era Soviet biologists' capacity to investigateunimpededthe factors ofMendelian inheritance (Adams 1990). Although SIMs can, to a certain degree, modify their opportunity structures over time, we hypothesize that better opportunity structures, often a function ofcontingent historical circumstance, are a major determinant of SIM success.

Two resources clearly fundamental to SIM emergence warrant brief mention. Especially in the physical and biological sciences, but also in the social sciences and the humanities, SIMs need access to financial support.'? Indeed, a conclusion that consistently emerges from the historiography ofmodem science is that, from individual researchers to large-scale international collaborations, from the earliest days of the Royal Society to the present day, money is a critical component ofknowledge production. Although SIMs certainly have failed to advance research programs despite access to funding, few in the sciences, including the quantitative social sciences (e.g., demography; see Greenhalgh 1996), have prospered long without it. Even in upstart humanities subfields, solidifying a SIM's collective identity can hinge on

lIOn the conceptualization of opportunities and opportunity structures, see Meyer and Staggenborg (1996), Kitschelt, (1986), Gamson and Meyer (1996), and Tarrow (1996).

12 Kohler (1991 :395) observed that "by 1940 grantgetting was an essential skill for making academic careers in most disciplines." On funding in U.s. science, see also Greenberg (2001), Kay (1997), and Leslie (1993). On the humanities, see D'Arms (1997).

financial resources, as a Weyerhauser

Corporation grant underwriting a year-long

interdisciplinary seminar on "Reinventing

Nature" did for the new constructivist school in

environmental history (Cronon 1996).

Neither can SIMs thrive without opportunities for publication. In science and academe, the conversion ofan individual's or group's thoughts and research findings into ideas circulated widely in the intellectual community and deemed credible is contingent on those thoughts and research findings making their way into print circulation. This process, like funding, is guided by a distinctive set ofeconomic, institutional, and cultural expectations and interests (Abel and Newlin 2002; McGinty 1999; Powell 1986). The SIMs that can insert themselves into these social logics and thereby secure the cooperation ofeditors and reviewers are more likely to find success over the long haul. We next identify and unpack three components ofthe intellectual opportunity structure that we believe deserve more detailed attention.

EMPLOYMENT FOR SIM PARTICIPANTS. Critically, SIMs need access to employment. As the university sector became institutionalized in the West, other means by which intellectuals could make a living (e.g., patronage arrangements) dried up (Coser 1965; Jacoby 1987). Of course, significantnumbers ofscientistsremain employed by industry, and a small number of humanists still manage to scratch out livings as independent writers and critics. But it is to academe that many in science and the humanities turn for salaries and benefits. Although this has brought job security to what had previously been an insecure livelihood, the centralization of employment opportunities in one institutional arena has tied the fates of intellectual fields directly to the fortunes ofhigher education. Viewed over the long term, the university sector has experienced tremendous growth. Closer inspection, however, reveals many shortterm advances and declines as well as uneven development across fields.

These vicissitudes condition SIMs in paradoxical ways. On the one hand, extremely tight academic labor markets create opportunities for SIMs because they increase levels of "disciplinary discontent" (Hargens and KellyWilson 1994) that can broaden a SIM's recruitment base. On the other hand, for the SIM to move beyond the initial recruitment stage and enter into a period of real productivity, movement members must eventually secure academic positions.

No better example of how tight academic labor market conditions may catalyze SIM activity can be found than Bourdieu's (1988) analysis of the rise of various antihumanist currents in French thought at the end ofthe 1960s. Why, in the context of the crisis of May 1968, did a political fissure open up between established professors associated with traditionalistic institutions such as the Sorbonne and lecturers and assistant lecturers occupying more marginal positions in the intellectual field? Bourdieu noted that the postwar years witnessed a substantial increase in the number of students attending French universities, and that the educational system responded by expanding the number of faculty positions. To fill these new posts, individuals were selected who, had it not been for the shortage, would have been judged unqualified to hold them. Once they were admitted into the ranks ofthe faculty, however, albeit in low-status positions, the characteristics that had previously served as the minimum qualifications for a faculty position were, in effect, devalued. There thus arose a natural antagonism between the elite old guard, whose life savings in cultural capital was losing value, and the new faculty members. In this context, many ofthe marginalized academics threw their support behind one or another antihumanist program, seeing structuralism or Barthesian semiotics as offering fresh approaches to questions that the older, more established intellectual generation treated in dry and sterile ways, and also as representing distinctive ideational vehicles requiring less classical training, by means ofwhich they could make their intellectual mark.

Labor market dynamics operate both nationally and cross-nationally, as several accounts describing the rise ofnew research fields illustrate. For example, Philip Pauly (1984) credited the appearance of biology in the United States during the late 19th century and its eventual development as a basic life science discipline to early biologists' relative lack ofties to medical science, as compared with the situation in Germany, where biological fields such as physiology were inextricably linked to the medical education system. This comparative situa-


tion attracted innovative European thinkers such as Jacques Loeb, whose "career problems [in Germany] were derived from the perceived insignificance ofhis results for that basic medical science [physiology]" (p. 369). Within a year of arriving in America, Loeb landed an assistant professorship at the University of Chicago, where "medicine exerted only a minor influence on the shape of biology" (p. 387). Similar opportunities at Johns Hopkins and Columbia provided the professional space from which biology developed as a core discipline after the turn of the century. Ben-David and Collins (1966) likewise explained the rise of psychology in 1870s Germany in terms ofacademic labor market conditions in combination withtherelativeprestige ofadjacent disciplines. In this case, a tight job market for German physiologists drove some into more plentiful but lower-status positions in philosophy. This downward move in the German academy encouraged migrant physiologists to create new identities and roles in what would become an explicitly scientific and thus higher-status field called "experimental psychology."

Only when employment opportunities eventually open up to those associated with a SIM, however, are SIMs able to attain high levels of productivity.Such openings occur for contingent historical reasons, but SIMs can also help create opportunities (Tarrow 1998). Thus Rosenberg (1967) attributed the rapid development of genetics in the United States in part to the enthusiastic reception that Mendelian laws received among plant and animal breeders at agricultural colleges and experiment stations, whose influence aided the geographical diffusion of east-coast-trained geneticists into research positions in the large state universities, and from there into smaller associated universities and colleges (see also Kimmelman 1987).

INTELLECTUAL PRESTIGE. Another resource vital for SIM success is intellectual prestige. The SIMs that offer their participants ways to secure additional prestige above and beyond that which they currently possess, to maintain prestige when it is threatened, or to regain lost prestige have a greater likelihood of success than those that do not. In her study of the processes by which the work of Jacques Derrida became defined as legitimate and important in the 1970s and 1980s, for example, Michele Lamont (1987) found that one ofthe contingenthistoricalconditions for Derrida's popularity in France was a legitimacy crisis underway in French philosophy. In the wake of the 1968 uprisings, the social sciences, alive to questions ofpower and social change, captured the attention of students and the educated public. At the same time, the national education ministry began cutting back philosophy course requirements for students enrolled in lycees or secondary schools. In this context, Derrida's insistence that the philosopher is the practitioner par excellence of deconstruction gave philosophy a critical new mission, served the function ofreestablishingits centrality for the humanities, defined deconstructionism as a high-status intellectual good available for consumption by the French upper middle classes, and bolstered the academic fortunes of Derrida's French followers.

Conversely,when opportunities structuring a field severely limit the amount ofprestige SIM participants are likely to obtain, the SIM's chances for success diminish. One context in which such constraints often occur involves the presence of competitor movements. These should not be confused with countermovements, a topic of considerable interest in the social movements literature. A countermovement is defined as "a movement that makes contrary claims simultaneously to those of the original movement" (Meyer and Staggenborg 1996:1631). Meyer and Staggenborg noted that countermovements arise when nonstate actors find their interests or identity threatened by a movement's activities. Competitor movements in scientific and intellectual arenas also compete for resources, especially prestige, and may be locked in intense battles. But rarely do they arise as strictly oppositional forms, and seldom,ifever,cancompetitormovements secure institutional standing only with the negative goalofcountering someothermovement.Tobe sure, oppositionality to those movements that represent the disciplinary status quo is a definingfeature ofSIMs.Butalmostinvariably, SIMs revolve around positive visions as to how inquiry in a field should be restructured. In science and academe, therefore, we believe it is moreappropriate tospeak ofcompetitormovements than of countermovements per see Nevertheless, competitor movements, like countermovements, both condition and form part of the opportunity structures in which SIMs must operate.

Collins (1998:75) referred to this phenomenon as "the law ofsmall numbers." "The structure of the intellectual world," he asserted, "allows only a limited number of positions to receive much attention at anyone time. There are only a small number ofslots to be filled, and once they are filled up, there are overwhelming pressures against anyone else pressing through to the top ranks." Based on his analysis of the world history of philosophy, Collins proposed that there is room in the intellectual attention space for only three to six "schools" to exist at anyone time. If the number of schools dips below three, he claimed, the intellectual rivalries will not be intense enough to generate support for anyone position. And if the number exceeds six, the amount of solidarity anyone school could generate would be so small, parceled out as it would be among all the competing schools, that no new school would beable to gain a foothold. Whether there are such specific numeric parameters associated with this phenomenon or not, it is clearly the case that when, for reasons endogenous or exogenous to the intellectual field, SIMs find themselves facing competitor movements that have been able to monopolize the available prestige, their likelihood ofsuccess will be drastically reduced, as suggested by Kusch's (1995) account of the attack on "psychologism" by early 20th-century German philosophers.

Like Ben-David and Collins (1966), Kusch (1995) examinedthe emergence ofexperimental psychology in late 19th-century Germany, spearheaded by such figures as Wilhelm Wundt, Hermann Ebbinghaus, Carl Stumpf, and Franz Brentano. Initially, experimental psychologists were housed in departments ofphilosophy, and in the context ofan institutional climate increasingly favorable to empirical research, the percentage of psychologists holding full professorships in philosophy tripled between 1892and 1913(Kusch 1995:126).Psychologists tried to justify their presence among philosophers by voicing the view that empirical psychology must serve as the foundation on which philosophy can be built. In response, "pure philosophers" as diverse as the phenomenologist Edmund Husserl and the neo-Kantian Heinrich Rickert argued that philosophy can rest only on transcendental, not empirical, foundations. Although experimental psychology would soon branch off and become its own discipline, in philosophy proper antipsychologists eventually won the day, partly because of the cultural climate that came to prevail during the Weimar Republic, as heirs to phenomenology such as Max Scheler "presented themselves as [the] true leaders" (p. 212) of the vitalist movement sweepingEurope. Deprived ofthe opportunity to secure intellectual prestige, the movementfor psychologismin philosophywent into steep decline.

This is not to suggest that movements which fi.nd their opportunities for amassing prestige hIndered by competitor SIMs will necessarily fail. It is not inevitable that SIM/competitor SIM dynamics will be zero sum. Under certain conditions (e.g., the absence of monopolization of prestige), both movements can gain.I! This is particularly so when interrelationships among SIMs are conditioned by low levels of what Richard Whitley (1984:88) called "strategic dependence,"whereby"researchers haveto persuade colleagues of the significance and importance of their problem and approach to obtain a high reputation from them." Whitley theorized that as field conditions of strategic dependencedecrease, competitionamongschools withinthe field willlikewisediminish.Thishas directapplicationto the theory of SIMs,as illustrated by the interactions among optical astronomers (an established discipline centered on the study of light waves) and radio astronomers (an emergent SIM centered on the studyofradiowaves)inthe 1950sand 1960s.As techniques developed by radio astronomers for measuringcosmicradiosourcesbecameincreasingly accurate, relationships between the two fields became interdependent on the data each wasproducing.As Mulkayand Edge (1976:181) describedit, across-fieldconsensusemergedas members of these competitor movements came to recognizethat "because light wavesand radio waves were fundamentally the same except for length,radioand opticalresearchshouldbe complementary."Thus, as radio astronomers,representingalower-status SIM,gainedprestigeinthe eyesof opticalastronomers, the strategic dependence of the former on the latter decreased. The result was that by the late 1960s,radio astrono

13 We thank Michele Lamont for this insight.


mycameto securea smallbut stablesubstratum within the larger discipline.

ORGANIZATIONAL RESOURCES. Finally, for a SIM to be successful, it needs access to organizational resources, or what scholars of social movementscallmobilizingstructures.These are the "collective vehicles, informal as well as for~al, thro~gh whichpeople mobilize and engage Incollectiveaction" (McAdam,McCarthy,and Zald1996:3). Inthescientific andintellectual arenas, these forms includeuniversitydepartments, wherethepresenceofmultipleSIMmemberscan ratchetup levelsofproductivityby allowingfor localizedinformationsharing,and whereadministrativepersonnel can be put to use in the service of the SIM (Mullins 1973).Other important organizationalresources for SIMs include institutionalizedchannelsof informationflowamong movementmemberssuchas occursthroughpublications,informalpersonaland institutionalnetworks, and scholarly organizations. As a great manysociologists ofsciencehaveargued, science and academiaare largelynetworkbased,at various levels. Invisible colleges link researchers workingonsimilarproblems(Price 1963);professional societies and conferences link people working inthesamefieldoralliedfields(Schofer 2003);andnationalacademies linkelitescientists tooneanotherandtopolicymakers ingovernment (H~~ 1982). Organizational resources not only facilitate communication andcoordinationamong similarly positioned and interested people in a field, but also increase a SIM's capacity to form linkages to key institutions beyond science. We thusexpectthemto be highlycorrelatedwithSIM success.And here wenote an importantrole for those scholars located in lower-status positions. Not onlyaretheyvitalforthesuccess ofa SIM insofar as they carry out normal science-like investigations that begin from its premises and heap statusandprestigeonthe intellectualleaders of the movement. Equally important, lowerstatus scholars often serve as organizational leadersof SIMs,devotingmuch oftheirprofessionalenergyto organizingconferencesand colloquia,carryingout editorialprojects,servingon committees, and moderating discussions, thereby making possible key mobilizing structures (Mullins 1973).The availabilityofsuch figures should make SIM success more likely.

As organizations that "embody and perpetuate disciplines" (Kohler 1982:8), university

departments often are targeted by science historians as central to the reproduction of expert labor and as institutional carriers ofdisciplinary authority, identity, and culture. What a discipline becomes, many studies tell us, is shaped by the local capacities, interests, and expectations that obtain in particular departmental settings. Thus, in the early 20th century American biochemistry became a biomedical discipline rather than a subfield ofbiology partly because opportunities and service roles at Johns Hopkins and other medical schools supported biochemists' research that was congruent with clinical scientists' interests in, for example, metabolism and nutrition. This did not happen in biology departments, where"institutionalcontextsthat favoredresearch on basic biological problems did not enable biochemists to institutionalize roles and mobilize resources" (pp.322-23). Carnic's(1995)research on early sociology at Chicago, Columbia, and Harvard makes a similar case, emphasizing how the intellectual and methodological content of incipient research programs can be influenced by local configurations ofneighboring departments.

Centered primarily in government laboratories rather than the standard institutions of postcollegiate university and medical school education, genetic toxicology provides an interesting counterexample to these and other disciplinary histories (FrickeI2004b). For sciences such as this, in which research training is not a central goal, and in which research trajectories are directed as much by national interests as by professional ones, what organizational forms accomplish the work ofdepartments? As Frickel showed, discipline builders in genetic toxicologycreated mechanisms for recruiting and training scientists, coordinating research, developing funding mechanisms, and standardizing tools and practices largely through voluntary associations. Formal organizations were central to this process, with no fewer than nine national and international professional societies created between 1969 and 1976 that promoted genetic toxicology and the study of"environmental mutagens,"!" Less formal committees and ad hoc groups of various sorts accomplished much ofthe data gathering,

14 Environmental mutagens are exogenous agents, usually chemical molecules or radiation, that alter the structure of genetic material in living organisms (Preston and Hoffman 2001).

planning, and organizational work upon which the fledging science depended. In creating new organizations and modifying existing ones, genetic toxicology advocates exploited preexisting communication and research networks, using these resources to forge new social connections with chemical and drug companies, members of Congress, and academic scientists, but not with university or medical school presidents, deans, or department chairs. The early lack of institutional footholds in universities and medical schools is reflected in the structure of the field today: whereas genetic toxicology training has entered core curricula in u.s. environmental and public health sciences, departments of genetic toxicology do not exist (although a few do in Europe, where universities played a more central role in this interdiscipline). This case illustrates that organizational resources, singly and in interaction, are a crucial dimension of SIM development. It also reaffirms the important role ofuniversity departments by showing how in their absence other organizational resources may be overdeveloped to compensate for the institutional leverage that university departments often provide.

As SIMs develop organizational resources to mobilize collective action, they are aided or hindered by the "epistemic cultures," or repertoires of thought, action, and technique, that shape the organization of scientific and intellectual inquiry in a given field or fields (KnorrCetina 1999). In our view, one of the most important ways that epistemic cultures vary is in terms ofwhether they tend toward intellectual individualism or collectivism. Is the culture of a field an individualistic one in which the intellectual contributions deemed most valuable are those path-breaking advances that show a marked divergence from the intellectual agenda ofothers? Or does the culture tend toward collectivism, such that the mark of good scholarship lies in a willingness to make small, incremental contributions, and to work collaboratively on topics and from theoretical and methodological vantage points pioneered by other researchers? We theorize that SIMs are more likely to emerge in individualistic epistemic cultures, or better yet, in periods when a field's cultural repertoire tends toward individualism, because in this context radical innovation is valued and encouraged. However, it may be easier for SIMs to win followers and become institutionalized in fields or at moments in afield's history when its repertoire tends toward collectivism, because a collectivist cultural orientation conduces toward collective action. Each of the mobilizing structures on which SIMs must rely-departments, communications networks, and scholarly organizations-become more efficient tools for it to the extent that the individual actors who compose them have a collectivist orientation.P On these grounds, we suggest, for example, that the failure of contemporary American sociologists to agree on a single theoretical paradigm stems not from the intellectual inadequacies of current theories (see the essays in Cole 2001) so much as from a strongly individualistic disciplinary culture that tends to constrain widespread agreement and collective action across sub-fields. 16




Like social movements, SIMs, once formulated, must be able to recruit new members. Access to resources such as employment and prestige is vital to the recruitment process, as is the movement's capacity to frame its intellectual message in a way that resonates with potential recruits, as we discuss later. In addition' however, recruitment requires the existence oflocal sites in which representatives of the movement and potential recruits can come into sustained contact with one another. It is in these settings that the actual work of recruitment takes place, as representatives exert their influence, making the case either explicitly or implicitly to potential recruits that converting to the movement, and thereby turning their backs on dominant disciplinary frameworks, is intellectually and professionally the right way

15 In discussing this point, we take it as a given that fields are not reducible to disciplines, that disciplines can and do contain multiple intellectual fields, and that each ofthese may have different cultures of inquiry.

16 For some evidence suggesting a possible shift toward greater collectivism in sociology, see Jacobs (2005), Appendix Table lA.


to proceed. In the social movements literature, these settings are termed "micromobilization contexts" (McAdam, McCarthy, and Zald 1988:709-11), and we use the same concept in our discussion.

In stressing the importance of micromobilization contexts for SIM formation, we extend the interest in local influences that has characterized the new sociology of ideas and the sociology of scientific knowledge more generally (Carnic and Gross 2001; Shapin 1995; see also Farrell 2001). From science studies' ethnographies of laboratories to research on social scientists' positioning in institutional settings to studies ofnetwork influences, new sociologists of ideas often have noted that thinkers are stamped as much by their contacts with other scientists and intellectuals "down the hall" as by their grappling with great figures ofthe past or present with whom they had no direct contact. Interactions in the local environment are not only by far the most numerous. They also are likely to be the most emotionally charged, as influential others in one's local milieu come to serve as gatekeepers, debating partners, sources ofinformation about the latest scientific or intellectual developments, and collaborators. These individuals are likely to become significant figures in one's schema of intellectual object relations, especially for young scholars in the early phases of intellectual socialization, figures that one wishes either to impress or, in an act of oedipal rebellion, to vanquish. Insofar as this is so, recruitment into a SIM depends on the movement having access to settings in which influences of these kinds may occur.

Several types ofmicromobilization contexts for SIMs exist. For example, conferences and symposia offer space for the incubation ofnew ideas, findings, or problems among likeminded but geographically separated thinkers. Research retreats at locations such as Woods Hole Marine Biology Laboratory on Cape Cod or Cold Springs Harbor Laboratory on Long Island both have been central sites for the exchange ofideas and practices in the history of biology. The academic and artistic retreat center in Bellagio, Italy, sponsored by the Rockefeller Foundation is another example. In the modern academy, however, the prime micromobilization contexts for SIMs are academic departments or laboratories in which postcollegiate training occurs and student-mentor ties are formed. 17 Within any particular intellectual field, these departments are arrayed in a roughly hierarchical status relationship with one another. Generally speaking, the highest-status departments draw better qualified students and have better professional placement records than lower-status departments. The number of students these departments admit and the number ofgraduate degrees they award tend to vary over the long run. Our general theory therefore hypothesizes that SIMs will be more successful the more they are able to place representatives in leading graduate programs during periods when those programs are awarding a large number of degrees (Rorty

1982:214-5). This maximizes the chances that the SIM will be able to recruit talented new members, who will in turn be placed in programs wherein they can do additional recruiting, thus extending the life of the SIM over several generations, as exemplified by the case of Justus Liebig's organic chemistry (Krohn and Schafer 1976)orT.H.Morgan's Drosophila genetics (Kohler 1994). Another example is the "1847 Group" of German physicalist physiologists, a case that illustrates the central role of micromobilization contexts at three different stages in the lifecourse ofa SIM.

As Lenoir (1997) described it, efforts to remake German physiology into a reductionist experimentalist discipline anchored by "organic physics" were led by Emil Du Bois-Reymond, a promising and career-minded young physiology student studying under Johannes Miiller at theUniversity ofBerlin. Becauseseveral ofhis mentor's more advanced students were positioned to capture the few medical school positions then open to physiologists, Du Bois-Reymond, to succeed in academia, sought to distinguish himself from those who closely followed Muller's research path. He also understood that research on an entirely new project would further hisprofessionalgoals only ifothers recognized it as important. To that end, Du Bois-Reymond and four student colleagues

17 We regard departments qua organizational resources to be analytically distinct from departments qua micromobilization contexts. The former function concerns levels of SIM coherence; the latter concerns recruitment.

formed a scientific club-the 1847 Group, later renamed the Berlin Physical Society. In an exceptionally tight labor market, the group provided an opportunity for "mutual assistance in learning and discussing the latest developments in experimental physics and chemistry." Just as importantly, the group was "a source ofmutual support and solidarity" as the members formulated their grievances about the old physiology and devised a strategy for "[freeing] physiology from its dependent status, placing it in an institutional setting where it could pursue its own problems . . . alongside . . . other pure, research-oriented disciplines" (pp. 82-83).

A decade later, as an associate professor of physiology at his alma mater, Du Bois-Reymond took advantage of the classroom as another micromobilization context for building "a school offollowers" (Lenoir 1997:86). In 1854, seeking a mechanism for recruiting medical students into experimental physiology, Du BoisReymond imported vivisection experiments into his lectures, encouraged in the use of live animal demonstrations by a colleague who told him "the doctors want to see blood" (Carl Ludwig, quoted on p. 86). Finally, Du BoisReymond's new "school" would assert itselfas a disciplinary force in his Physiological Institute, opened with Bismarck's blessings in 1877. While several laboratories within the Institute were intended for use by general medical students, a "much smaller laboratory cluster" functioned as a third type of micromobilization context. The space included "a main laboratory for vivisectional experiments and special physiological experiments and two adjoining laboratories for precision instrument work [that] was reserved for the small number of 'more talented and especially diligent students' who intended to go on in physiological research" (p.98).

A stark counterexample to Du BoisReymond's recruitment successes is provided by the history of science pioneer George Sarton, who "almost single-handedly created the infrastructure of a new discipline yet failed to provide the readily identifiable intellectual orientations, problems, and techniques that wouldengagetheinterest ofadvanced students" (Thackray and Merton 1972:494). A Belgian national trained in mathematics, Sarton emigrated to the United States in 1915 and spent his career at Harvard as a lecturer of undergradu

ates and as a denizen of Widener Library through ongoing support from the Carnegie Institute. Sarton is best known as the founder of the journal Isis, and as the author ofthe encyclopedic three-volume Introduction to the History ofScience. But although attendance in his sparsely attended courses rose during World War II and remained high until his retirement in 1949, the Harvard administration regarded him as "a marginal although illustrious man" (p. 490). Although promoting the history ofscience in America was a career-long pursuit for Sarton, he graduated no PhDs. He also failed to convince the Carnegie Institute to continue support for the completion ofhis Introduction (planned for five volumes) after his death, or to convince Harvard President 1. B. Conant to support his vision for an institute devoted to research on the history of science. Fittingly for us, Sarton's biographers conclude that "a professional identity is not guaranteed by the formation oflearned societies and the production ofextensive propaganda, necessary though these are. It also requires the recruitment of followers and students and more especially the creation ofsatisfactory career structures" (p. 494).



As collectivities, social movements come together not simply through recognition ofgrievances arising from objectively similar material conditions or the shared social locations of movement actors, but also around common understandingsofthe nature and significance of those conditions and locations, as well as shared social values and broader worldviews. As articulated by a number of scholars in the 1980s and 1990s (e.g. Larana, Johnston, and Gusfield 1994), cultural analysis of contentious collective action begins from the understanding that social movements are generated from, and ultimately sustained by, ideas. 18 What a movement

18 Recognition of the central role of ideas in the constitution of social movements is of course longstanding (Marx and Engels [1848] 1998), but by the


becomes, these scholars argued, depends a great deal on the packaging and dissemination of "collective action frames" (Snow et at. 1986). According to Goffinan's (1974) work on frame analysis, frames are sets of ideas purposefully articulated to lend specific meaning and urgency to actors' individual and social experiences. With respect to social protest, frames operate as cultural mechanisms that inspire and guide collective action. Here, the critical issue is understanding how social movements blend new ideas with already familiar cultural motifs, understandings, and sensibilities in ways that prompt potential activists and sympathizers to embrace a set of contentious claims. 19

Infewdomains ofsocial scientificinquiry are conceptions ofrhetoric as a practical competency more highly developed than in science studies, wherein several forms ofpersuasion have been problematized. Some studies examine the rhetorical tactics scientists use to establish cultural boundaries. By means ofsuch tactics, "real science is demarcated from several categories of posers: pseudoscience, amateur science, deviant or fraudulent science, bad science, junk science, popular science" (Gieryn 1999:16). Other investigations are concerned with understanding processes of"translation" through which scientific claims are transformed into scientific facts "devoid of any trace of ownership, construction, time, and place" (Latour 1987:23). Some of these processes hinge on the demonstration of scientific technologies (Shapin and Schaffer 1985), whereas others involve following rhetorical conventions that are either general to science

1970s, although theorists ofsocial movements often regarded the development ofsustaining ideologies as prerequisites for mobilization, their analytical frameworks for understanding them had become limited (Tarrow 1998). The advent and promotion of frame analysis in relation to social movements is itselfillustrative ofa SIM that reintroduced cultural dynamism into the rationalist core of resource mobilization theory.

19 The accumulated research on collective action frames is not without its critics. Some have recently charged that such analyses tend to conflate processes ofmovement ideology construction with processes of framing per se (Oliver and Johnston 2000), and that frame analyses largely ignore the emotive, nonstrategic dimension ofideational work (Schurman and Munro 2004).

(as in Gieryn's [1983] studies ofboundary work vis-A-vis "nonscience") or specific to a particular discipline such as biology (Myers 1990) or sociology (Agger 2000) or a subfield such as human ecology (Gaziano 1996). Still other work examines the role that metaphors play in science (McCloskey 1985) or the discursive tactics that scientists adopt when they want to colonize new areas ofresearch (Chamak 1999), or more generally, the self-presentational strategies scientists use to establish their credibility (Shapin 1994).

Although these all are very important, they are not what we have in mind by framing. Instead, and in concert with social movement scholarship, we aim to denote the processes by which SIM participants collectively represent the movement to insiders and outsiders. Frames ofa SIM can appear in many different kinds of venues such as scholarly books and articles, grant applications, conference proposals, lectures, informal communications with colleagues and students, and histories ofthe field, and they operate along at least four related dimensions.

Fundamental to framing, and underlying and connecting to the three other dimensions we describe shortly,isthe notion ofintellectualidentity. We see intellectual identity as one of the crucial links between micro, meso, and macro levels of analysis in the sociology of ideas. Intellectuals are not just career-minded strategizers. They also are identity-bearing agents, and not all of their identities are reducible to their intellectual field positions. Nor are such identities restricted to those associated with major social groupings such as class, race, and gender. Rather, drawing on Gross's (2002, see also 2003) study of intellectual self-concept, we suggest that intellectualsexperiencethemselvesand other intellectuals in typified ways. That is, they cannot help but regard themselves and the other thinkers they encounter as intellectuals or scientists of such and such a type, and the types in question may be characterological, dispositional, theoretical, political, religious, stylistic, and so forth.Thesetypesare ineffectsocialcategories that acquire their meaning within particular intellectual communities. They have an important effect on ideas because, especially given prevailing cultural notions ofauthenticity, thinkers are motivated to do intellectual work that resonates and feels to them consistent with their sense ofthe kind ofintellectual they are.

The distribution ofintellectual self-concepts is a function of other social processes both endogenous and exogenous to the intellectual field. For a wide variety ofreasons (e.g., the rise ofpolitical or cultural movements, new phases in capitalist expansion, a perceived sense of cultural crisis), one or another set ofintellectual self-concepts may become more popular at particular historical junctures. Scientific/intellectual movements can then ride this wave of popularity provided they have been framed as ideational vehicles for the expression of these self-concepts in ways that resonate with potential recruits as appropriate or legitimate.P In this way, macrolevel changes, which may reshuflle intellectual self-concepts, shape microlevel processes (the desire for self-concept resonance among intellectuals) that may spur mesolevel transformations (the rise or fall of various SIMs).

To be sure, processes that involve framing around various intellectual self-concepts do not alone determine a SIM's success or failure, and efforts at framing may try to link the SIM not only with intellectual self-concepts, but also with broader values and worldviews. Nevertheless, our general theory regards framing around intellectual self-concepts as a crucial feature ofSIM existence and as a key factor in SIM success or failure. Moreover, intellectual identity formation reciprocally shapes three additional dimensions of SIM framing: rhetorical constructions ofthe movement's collective identity, its historical origins, and its relationship to various competitor movements.

In framing a SIM, thinkers are offering some kindofstatementas to its collectiveidentity, its defining ideas. Collective identity claims occur in many different contexts, from those involving a "core set" ofresearchers that forms around the interpretation of a series of experiments (Collins 1974) to moments during which entire disciplines debate their professional responsibilities to their subjects and the larger society, as physicists did in the 1950s (Kevles 1978) and as anthropologists and geneticists do today (Marks 2002). A common middling scenario, one nearly universal in the social sciences and humanities, is for much of a movement's dis

20 On frame resonance, see Snow and Benford (1988), Williams and Kubal (1999), and Babb (1996).

cursive activities to revolve around the fundamental problem ofpolysemousness, or the fact that movement participants and others disagree as to the meaning and interpretation of its knowledge core. These disagreements and the attempts at clarification they engender are not superfluousaspects ofSIM life.Rather,attempts at defining a movement often have a critical political dimension, if for no other reason than that movement participants have an interest in defining the movement in ways they believe will help it grow and prosper.I!

Francois Cusset's (2003) analysis detailing the American creation of "French theory" illustrates the point. He described how thinkers as intellectually diverse as Michel Foucault, Jacques Derrida, and Gilles Deleuze came to be interpreted by American intellectuals as composing a more or less unified body of thought. This rhetorical move-not simply a product of the 1970s, when these and other French intellectuals first made their appearance on the American scene, but one continuing to be made today-is all the more surprising in the current intellectual context because none of these thinkers is at the center of attention in France anymore. Cusset linked the intellectual packaging and importation of French ideas to the effortsofsomeAmerican academicsanddepartments to shore up their own professional reputations. A distinguishing feature of American university life, according to Cusset's reading, is that it remains worlds apart from the universe of public discourse and permanently colored by the theme of adolescent rebellion. In the 1970s and 1980s, the intellectual playfulness that this situation engendered combined with the increasingly coordinated demands of women, people of color, and lesbians and gays who sought recognition for their identities in the academic sphere. The result was the creation of demand for a theoretical approach, especially in the humanities, that would call into question taken-for-granted claims to objectivity in textual interpretation and canonization and make space for an analysis of the subtle ways in which power operates. In this context, academics such as Judith Butler, Gayatri Spivak, Stanley Fish,

21 The specific strategies for achieving this will of course vary. See Fricke! (2004a) for a detailed case study of SIM framing.


and Edward Said could become "stars de campus" by bringing the thought of Derrida, Foucault, and others to bear on theoretical questions in the humanities. The interpretive process involved stripping the ideas of French thinkers from their original intellectual context and creating a new entity called "French theory" centered onthe subtleties ofpower.This entitywas constituted through constant repetition and summation of key ideas, the publication of edited volumes, and the hosting ofconferences. These framing efforts served as preconditions, Cusset claimed, for the institutionalization ofthis form of theoretical discourse in the 1990s.

Another and related dimension of framing recognizes that participants in a SIM must construct historical narratives of it. Who are the legitimate founders of the movement? Who were their intellectual ancestors and predecessors? For what reasons did the movement arise? And through what processes? Historical narratives that answer such questions are routinely invoked across the sciences and humanities to legitimate work done under the banner of some particular SIM (Graham, Lepenies, and Weingart 1983). In this also, framing matters, so much so that recruitment into the movement and the sustaining of its intellectual energy is partially dependent on the capacity ofmovement participants to depict themselves as caught up insomegrandsweep ofintellectual history.The more successful movements are those that effectively frame their SIM as the natural outgrowth of and the heir to some set of values, beliefs, assumptions, and identities widely held among the intellectuals who compose its potential recruitment base, or among those who control access to key resources such as foundation funding or publication space. As Fisher's (1966) study investigating the demise of"the theory of invariants" as a subfield in theoretical mathematics shows, the failure properly to frame a historical place for a set of ideas can result in the disappearance ofthe research network that had earlier formed in relation to it.

The case ofthe Chicago school ofsociology, as analyzed by Abbott (1999), is a positive example of the role that historical narratives may play in a SIM's constitution. Abbott acknowledged that Chicago sociologists in the years 1915 to 1935 shared a characteristic set of themes and concerns: a focus on the city as a social form, a social-ecological perspective, a case study methodology, and so on. But after the waning ofthe department's influence in the late 1930s, there was a good 15-to 20-year period when it was rarely spoken of as a "school."There wereseveralreasons for this historical neglect: "From the 1940s onward much ofsociology came to think ofitselfas a science, uninterested in what it defined as a prescientific past. Moreover, the quantitative party that led this change was strongly associated with another department (Columbia).... [T]he invisibility also reflected the manufacture, by Talcott Parsons particularly, of a Weber-Durkheim genealogy" (Abbott 1999:9).

In the 1960s, however, a new generation of Chicago sociologists-what Gary Fine (1995) has called a "second Chicago school"-many working under the influence ofsymbolic interactionism as it was then being elaborated by Herbert Blumer, came to the fore. Working to secure intellectual prestige in a field crowded with competitors, it became important for Chicago sociologists to develop a "cohesive ideology" (Abbott 1999:10).This they did by situating themselves in an intellectual tradition they helped to invent called "the Chicago school ofsociology."The key historical texts produced in this regard were R. E. L. Faris's (1967) Chicago Sociology and James Carey's (1975) Sociology and Public Affairs, which highlighted the personalities,thematics,and moral virtues of the Chicago school. Challenging these narratives were historical texts written by representativesofcompeting sociologicalapproaches such as Marxism, which "spent considerable time branding the Chicago school as a lackey ofcapitalism" (Abbott 1999:11). In later years, as symbolic interactionism became institutionalized in the Society for the Study of Symbolic Interaction, scholars produced "revisionist" histories of the Chicago school that aimed to expand its contemporary relevance even more.

As Abbott's analysis also demonstrates, the framing of a SIM additionally involves the attempt to position it vis-a-vis various competitor movements. Social movement theorists have done much of late to emphasize that collective action frames result from movement interaction (McAdam, Tarrow,and Tilly 2001), and so it is with SIMs. Intellectual life is constituted around oppositionality through differentiation from competing intellectual positions (Abbott 2001). Indeed, we have defined a SIM

as a project for intellectual change. Whether implicitly or explicitly, then, all SIMs offer characterizations and critiques of the intellectual positions for which they claim to be alternatives. But movements can vary with respect to how they go about formulating these characterizations and critiques. This can be done polemically, as a rallying cry within the intellectual community, although such a strategy risks undermining the SIM's credibility. Alternatively, competitor movements can be discussed in a sophisticated fashion that signals a movement's association with high-status thinkers and makes its critique ofthe status quo appear particularly serious. The political or ethical ramifications of a competitor movement may be played up, or the claim made, whether accurate or not, that large numbers ofintellectuals already are fleeing from the competitor movement, and that others would be well advised to do so soon. Depending on the prevailing intellectual climate, and the ebb and flowofthe competition'sresponse, these depictions may resonate with large numbers of thinkers, increasing support for the SIM, or fall on deaf ears. We theorize that movement success is partly dependent on the efficacy ofthese rhetorical moves, as illustrated by the interdisciplinary revival of interest in American pragmatism.

Pragmatism, enormously popular both inside and outside the American academy in the first three decades ofthe 20th century,saw its stature greatly diminished in the 1940s, 1950s, and early 1960s, only to reappear again in the late 1970s. What explains its revival? While also pointing to a variety of structural and institutional factors, Gross (2005) argued that part of the answer lies in how neopragmatists framed their movement as a response to the intellectual and cultural politics of the previous decade. Although the tone ofmuch American activism in the 1960s had been stridently anti-American, a significant number of activists and intellectuals at the time identified themselves with an America ofdecades past, that is, with an era of Progressivism, when America seemed to stand for democracy, inclusion, and a commitment to experimentation and creativity in public life. That demands for social reform could effectively be framed as attempts to keep America true to itselfwas a theme that resurfaced as the socialmovements ofthe 1960swaned,andinthe context of events such as the bicentennial celebrations of 1976. For thinkers who had such an American intellectual self-concept, who believed in democracy and its possibilities and the capacity of humankind to solve collective problems creatively, the antiseptic rigorism of analytic philosophy as well as the nihilism and antihumanism characteristic of much Continental thought were anathema. As intellectual and organizational leaders of the interdisciplinary pragmatist movement went about trying to bring pragmatism back to the center of intellectual attention, they made continual, if sometimes veiled, appeals to pragmatism's essential Americanness, juxtaposing its commonsense views with the obscurantism of French theory and appealing to a host of intellectuals-not all of them born in the United States-who identified with a Progressive American heritage.


This article introduces SIMs as important objects forsociologicalanalysis.Scientific/intellectual movements are constituted through collective action aimed at the institutionalization of new social forms across the sciences and humanities. As such, SIMs represent major forces for initiating changes, large and small, in the organization, production, diffusion, and transformation of ideas and their associated roles and practices. The general model of SIM emergence that we describe draws its primary features from the literature on social movements, which we take to be kindred phenomena. Like social movements, SIMs represent contentious challenges to normative practices and institutions and, as such, are inherently political. Requiring ongoing coordination at variouslevels oforganization, SIMsareepisodic creatures that eventually and inevitably disappear, either through failure and disintegration, orthrough successand institutionalstabilization.

But if SIMs resemble social movements in several crucial respects, they also differ in important ways. One difference involves scale. Although they can vary greatly in size and reach, social movements often become nationallevel phenomena. By contrast, SIMs tend to be smaller in both absolute and relative terms. Although it is convenient for historians and sociologists to describe SIMs in national units,


as in studies of "German" genetics (Harwood 1993) or national disciplinary frameworks in economics (Fourcade-Gourinchas 2001), in full flower most SIMs tend to involve far fewer people and organizations than most social movements. As a result, SIMs are likely to face structural disadvantages attributable to a relative lack of organizational density, control of fewer resources, less public visibility, and the like, factors that we expect to have systematic impacts on SIM development.

A second and related difference involves the scope of change that describes a SIM's raison d'etre. At their extreme, social and scientific/intellectual changes can become revolutionary, but in most cases, SIMs are not likelyto reverberate in the lives ofmost people. The broader social impacts ofgenetic toxicology or pragmatism, to use the two SIMs we have studied most closely, are obviously far more constrained than, say, the civil rights and peace movements. Thus we might also expect the dynamics of social change to be less complex and of narrower reach than is typical of social movements.

A third set ofdistinctions involves the nature ofwhat is at stake for SIM participants and the social character of the contention or activism that SIMs engage in relative to social movements. Notwithstanding a few famous exceptions, most notably involving some early 17th-century Italian astronomers and some mid20th-century Soviet geneticists, scientists who become involved in movements that challenge or defend (as in the Soviet case) the scientific/intellectual status quo seldom risk their lives or their freedom. More typically, SIM participants-leaders more so than followers-risk raising doubts about their professional judgment. Although these dangers are quite real, because questions about one '8 credibility can easily lead to economic and professional sanction by university administrations, granting agencies, or one's peer community, the risks of being wrong or ignored are outcomes quite different from political sanction, curtailed civil liberties, imprisonment, or death. We see the different matrices of risk faced by participants of socialmovements and SIMs as reflections ofthe ideological differences in the institutions they target for change. States value social order and reward political and civil conformity. The academy, notwithstanding the normative hold that some approaches may come to have, values intellectualadvance,and onceinitialdoubtsare overcome, tends to reward novelty and innovation. One implication is that actions associated with SIMs are rarely contentious in the same waythat politicalactivismis contentious.Public confrontations with institutional structures of power are not typical strategies for mobilizing and advancing SIMs.22 Instead,successfulSIM tactics tend to involve mundane actions directed at contentious ends, and we would expect to find a far more subtle blurring of boundaries between collective action that is normative and that which is quietly transformative.

A fourth related but more clearly delineated difference involves the status positions of SIM leadership.Whereas truly lower-classor working-class leaders ofmost historically important social movements are rare, more rare are leaders from the social elite. Instead, the revolutionary charismatic leadership provided by the likes of Lenin, Mao, Bakunin, Castro, and Robespierre has tended to originate in the middle classes and minor aristocracy. In contrast, SIMs seem far more likely to emerge under the leadershipofhigh-status individuals,theintellectual equivalent of the upper class. This follows from our understanding that one's social origins outside the intellectual field matter less than one's network origins inside the field (although we recognize that these may be related).23 Accordingly, those people with tenure security, a proven research record, and considerableintellectual capitalfacelowerrisksshould their SIM fail, and a higher probability of success given that their reputations will increase their movement'smobilizationpotential.Lowerranked academicians without tenure or comparable prestige face relatively greater risks and correspondingly lowerprobabilities ofsuccess,

22 However, they are not unknown, as illustrated by protest episodes within the pluralist movement in

U.S. philosophy in the late 1970s (Gross 2003), and among radicalized physicists in the early 1970s (Moore and Hala 2002), or by efforts of students and faculty to establish ethnic studies programs and multiculturalism requirements in American universities (Yamane 2001).

23 Here we are essentially paraphrasing the very useful comments ofReviewer C, whom we thank for putting the point so well.

although for some the relative payoff should they succeed may prove too tempting to ignore.

The preceding observation highlights a final important distinction,betweenSIMs that can be analyticallyunderstoodas more or less internal to the scientific and intellectual field and those tiedmoredirectlytosocialmovements. Weexpect that SIMs of the former variety are more often ledbyyoungerscholars, whoseradicalclaimsare nevertheless fullyinlinewithdisciplinaryexpectations for distinction through intellectual innovation, whereas resistance often comes from older professionals whose accumulated social and intellectualcapitalisinvestedin established ideasand modelsofearliergenerations. In the latter instance, the roles will tend to reverse. The assertion that science is political violates disciplinary expectationson a grand scale,and young scholarswithouttenurerun gravecareerrisksin putting forward such claims. Older scholars, however, haverelativelylesstoloseprofessionally and can be more assured that their demands will garner the attention of peers. In this and other instances, ambiguous links connecting socialmovementsand SIMsare likelyto provide rich contexts in which to explore the further delineationofdistinctionsacross the vast range of actually occurring SIMs, which we believe is our general theory's singular strength.

The model provides a basic framework that scholars interested in SIMs can test empirically through case study and comparative research that builds upon, deepens, and specifies our general set of starting claims. Future research might add to the social movement-inspired armature of our general theory by examining, for example, whether the academy is prone to occasional boom periods, when many SIMs make theirappearancein concentratedand interactive fashion, much as national states periodically endure peaks ofprotest cycles, and when intensifiedinteractiongeneratesspillovereffects (Meyer and Whittier 1994; Tarrow 1989).

Researchalsomight furtherexplorehowspecific field conditions influence SIM mobilization processes or frame construction (Knorr-Cetina 1999; Whitley 1984), whether, for example, interdisciplinary SIMs such as deconstructionism or neuroscience are more likely to become more institutionalized around some disciplines than others.

Stillotherresearchcouldmovetowardfurther specification ofthe general theory by building

into it pieces that we have by necessity left out. For example, our theory identifies only two main outcomes-success or failure-but there are clearly intermediary ones, from the establishmentofnew fields tothecreationoflow-status niches within established fields, that warrant exploration.Twointeresting outcomes suggested by reviewers are "stealth SIMs," which pursue change while emphasizing continuity, and cooptation, in which the language ofthe movement is folded into mainstream discourse without affecting real change.P' Our theory also does not address epistemological issues that have been an abidingconcern among sociologists ofscientific knowledge, but surely there are theoretical complementarities between network and interestfactor models of knowledge construction and our heavily structural theory of SIMs that can be mined to understand better the role that representations ofnature or notions of objectivity or credibility struggles play in shaping the dynamic among SIMs and competitor movements. On the other hand, and bearing in mind our interest in tempering the overinstrumentalism that characterizes some approaches, our theory provides sociologists of ideas a set of tools for examining both more precisely and more generally how, where, and under what conditions science is "politics by other means" (Latour 1988:229).

Scott Frickel is Assistant Professor ofSociology at Tulane University. His primary areas of research are environmental sociology, science studies, and social movements. He is the author of Chemical Consequences: Environmental Mutagens, Scientist Activism, and the Rise of Genetic Toxicology

(Rutgers University Press, 2004) and co-editor with Kelly Moore of The New Political Sociology of Science: Institutions, Networks, and Power

(University ofWisconsin Press, 2005).

Neil Gross is Assistant Professor of Sociology at Harvard University. He studies sociological theory, the sociology ofideas, and the sociology ofculture, and is working on a book about Richard Rorty. With Robert Alun Jones he edited Durkheim's Philosophy Lectures: Notes from the Lycee de Sens Course,

1883-4 (Cambridge University Press, 2004). Forthcoming pieces include "The Detraditionalization of Intimacy Reconsidered" (Sociological

24 We thank the editor and Reviewer B for this point.


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