the map of science: sociology in the center

The Chronicle of Higher Education has a nice review of recent work that maps scientific citation networks. The image above is a rough map of where everything is. The neat thing is that sociology, according to the data from J-Stor citations, is in the middle of things. I think Jim Moody has work showing the same thing. The articles also discusses new techniques and how they can be used to map out scientific specialties as they emerge from citation patterns\.

Written by fabiorojas

September 15, 2011 at 12:13 am

7 Responses

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  1. I love their maps. I’ve been using them for the past year in my classes to show that sociology is the bridging discipline (as Moody says… the eigenfactor charts just look prettier).



    September 15, 2011 at 12:26 am

  2. […] the map of science: sociology in the center – […]


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  4. Also, I think that in Homo Academicus, Bourdieu shows the same thing using correspondence analysis in terms of sociology’s place in the academic field. Intermediate between the applied pole of medicine/law/government and the abstract fields of philosophy/literature/art. Apparently this allows us and only us to see the world through special x-ray goggles.



    September 15, 2011 at 5:10 am

  5. Moody and Light’s argument in “A View from Above” is more sophisticated, that sociology “traded” network centrality for cohesion, since we’re about half as likely to cite externally as internally. The pejorative reading is that sociology is central to the social sciences because we can’t hold our own center like many of the other disciplines, Gouldner’s old “coming crisis of western sociology” argument. The positive reading is that we are pluralistic. Two sides of the same coin I suppose, but the pluralism argument is rather naive. If other disciplines don’t cite us then we are hardly “central” in the sense of our knowledge impacting theirs. Also explains why sociology is poor, since we give credit for half the work we do away to other disciplines.

    At any rate, Moody’s “contour sociograms” are better visualizations than the diagram posted above from Nature, since they don’t reify the disciplines by projecting them as nodes:

    Sociology and institutionalism should be very critical of the work done by natural scientists on citation networks, since, if we’re bringing anything to the table, they don’t have the concepts to control for the social processes that define these. They perhaps are more likely than we are to treat common sense “subfields” as real knowledge domains and not also the products of arbitrary institutionalization. We should be telling stories about the paths not taken, and the non-scientific or non-cultural mechanisms that can control scholarly development.

    It’s hard because they have fast computers, and these network algorithms are insane. Not to mention proficiency in R for making cool visuals.


    Brooks Ambrose

    September 15, 2011 at 5:02 pm

  6. Something doesn’t make sense here. Where’s psychology? Shouldn’t management and marketing (if not econ, soc and stats) have ties to psych?



    September 15, 2011 at 5:26 pm

  7. […] the map of science: sociology in the center ( […]


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