Ben-David, Joseph. The Scientist's Role in Society. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey:


Ben-David, Joseph. The Scientist's Role in Society. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey:
Prentice-Hall, 1971.

This book pretends to explain the role of the scientist by examining what the scientist is to do for
the institution of which he is a part. Then, by examining his contribution, the author explains
what the scientist is. The only value to the work I can see is the interrelation of the scientist and
the history of colleges and universities. For the history of what the scientist is, is in part the
history of the various institutions to which his role is related. There is a history given here of the
universities in Europe and the ways in which the researcher has been a part of them. It is of
interest but tells nothing about fudge, or fraud, or deceit, or human beings.

This sort of thing is complementary to the whole Mertonian approach in that it tells us what
scientists are supposed to be doing. It also explains, in part, the relatively low status of scientists
and natural philosophers in early universities wherein theology, law, and medicine formed the
central core of the school. Scientists and researchers came only slowly to occupy important
positions and then only when they were allied with institutes (not colleges) within which they did
independent research and had independent sources of funds.

Ben-David does provide some complexities to the teaching of the sociology of science with this
classification: social conditions not only influence the behavior of scientists but also the content
of their knowledge. Then, using the interactional approach and the institutional approach, one
can derive his conceptions of the "the role of the scientist." The author provides a fairly extensive
bibliography concerning these approaches. Institutional sociology, the conditions that determine
the level of scientific activity and shape the roles and careers of scientists and the organization of
science, are the special emphases of this book.