1932

Abstract

The ongoing pandemic and quickening climate crisis make it difficult to overstate the significance of science and science policy to our world. These global catastrophes have laid bare the fragility of science's legitimacy and its dependence on broader cultural understandings and institutional norms. Challenges to science's legitimacy are numerous and daunting in the early twenty-first century but also nothing new. This review interrogates science as culture in our highly fragmented and polarized social environment, and the idea that scientific knowledge and expertise are experiencing a profound and accelerating legitimacy crisis. The challenges are internal and external to the production of scientific knowledge, emphasizing the publicly financed sector in colleges and universities worldwide. Internal threats include fraud, replicability, knowledge diffusion and equability, disciplinary fragmentation, and overproduction. Equally important are the external threats, such as polarization, authoritarianism, religious beliefs, information technology, and economic capital—commanding financial flows to organized science. While sociology is uniquely situated to study these composite issues, it faces sobering challenges and its own scientific legitimacy crisis.

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2023-07-31
2024-04-20
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