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A Fractured Profession

Commercialism and Conflict in Academic Science

David R. Johnson

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Exploring the growing division among academic scientists over a profit motive in research.

The commercialization of research is one of the most significant contemporary features of US higher education, yet we know surprisingly little about how scientists perceive and experience commercial rewards. A Fractured Profession is the first book to systematically examine the implications of commercialization for both universities and faculty members from the perspective of academic scientists. Drawing on richly detailed interviews with sixty-one scientists at four universities across the United States…

Exploring the growing division among academic scientists over a profit motive in research.

The commercialization of research is one of the most significant contemporary features of US higher education, yet we know surprisingly little about how scientists perceive and experience commercial rewards. A Fractured Profession is the first book to systematically examine the implications of commercialization for both universities and faculty members from the perspective of academic scientists. Drawing on richly detailed interviews with sixty-one scientists at four universities across the United States, sociologist David R. Johnson explores how an ideology of commercialism produces intraprofessional conflict in academia.

The words of scientists themselves reveal competing constructions of status, conflicting norms, and divergent career paths and professional identities. Commercialist scientists embrace a professional ideology that emphasizes the creation of technologies that control societal uncertainties and advancing knowledge toward particular—and financial—ends. Traditionalist scientists, on the other hand, often find themselves embattled and threatened by university and federal emphasis on commercialization. They are less concerned about issues such as conflicts of interest and corruption than they are about unequal rewards, unequal conditions of work, and conflicts of commitment to university roles and basic science.

Arguing that the division between commercialists and traditionalists represents a new form of inequality in the academic profession, this book offers an incisive look into the changing conditions of work in an era of academic capitalism. Focusing on how the profit motive is reshaping higher education and redefining what faculty are supposed to do, this book will appeal to scientists and academics, higher education scholars, university administrators and policy makers, and students considering a career in science.

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A Fractured Profession

David R. Johnson

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Reviews

Johnson thoughtfully considers the norms, tensions, and rules governing commercialization of research in academic settings, as well as the effects of commercialization on scientists' reputations and identity within the institution and profession. Academic scientists would be advised to take Johnson's interview protocol (included in the appendixes) to determine their own identity.

Contrasting the value patterns and work orientations of scientists who conduct research funded by business and industry with those of scientists who conduct research to advance knowledge, A Fractured Profession is an original contribution based on sound qualitative methodology.

Many have opined about the impact of commercialism on science, but few have gone to the source: scientists. Bringing Merton into the twenty-first century, David Johnson masterfully unpacks the value conflicts between traditionalist scientists—still the majority—and an influential minority focused on commercial impact.

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About

Book Details

Publication Date
Status
Available
Trim Size
6
x
9
Pages
192
ISBN
9781421423531
Illustration Description
1 line drawing
Table of Contents

List of Tables and Figure
Acknowledgments
Introduction
1. Normative Tension in Commercial Contexts
2. The Reconstruction of Meaning and Status in Science
3. Embracing and Avoiding Commercial Trajectories
4

List of Tables and Figure
Acknowledgments
Introduction
1. Normative Tension in Commercial Contexts
2. The Reconstruction of Meaning and Status in Science
3. Embracing and Avoiding Commercial Trajectories
4. Identity Work in the Commercialized Academy
Conclusion
Appendix
Notes
References
Index

Author Bio