The Phenomenon of Soviet Science

TitleThe Phenomenon of Soviet Science
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2008
AuthorsKojevnikov, A
JournalOsiris
Volume23
Pagination115-135
ISBN Number0369-7827
KeywordsCommunism - history, History, History &amp, PHILOSOPHY OF SCIENCE, Science - history, War
Abstract

The grand "Soviet experiment" constituted an attempt to greatly accelerate and even shortcut the gradual course of historical development on the assumption of presumed knowledge of the general laws of history. This paper discusses the parts of that experiment that directly concerned scientific research and, in fact, anticipated or helped define important global changes in the functioning of science as a profession and an institution during the twentieth century. The phenomenon of Soviet, or socialist, science is analyzed here from the comparative international perspective, with attention to similarities and reciprocal influences, rather than to the contrasts and dichotomies that have traditionally interested cold war-type historiography. The problem is considered at several levels: philosophical (Soviet thought on the relationship between science and society and the social construction of scientific knowledge); institutional (the state recognition of research as a separate profession, the rise of big science and scientific research institutes); demographic (science becoming a mass profession, with ethnic and gender diversity among scientists); and political (Soviet-inspired influences on the practice of science in Europe and the United States through the social relations of science movement of the 1930s and the shock of the 1950s).

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