Mikhail Sokolov 1
  • 1 European University at Saint Petersburg, Gagarinskaya Srt., 6/1a, Saint Petersburg, Russian Federation 191187

Science as a Ceremonial Exchange: A Theory of Attention Spaces, Academic Status, and Symbolic Struggle

2021, vol. 20, No. 3, pp. 9–42 [issue contents]
The article develops a middle-range theory offering a novel perspective of the logic of the distribution of attention, allocation of status, and competition in academia. Since Merton, the relations between these processes were usually cast in quasi-market terms in which individuals exchanged novel information for attention and recognition; investing the latter into the production of further information, the symbolic struggle takes the form of a market competition. As an alternative, I suggest a theoretical vocabulary comparing the academic world to an aristocratic society in which the status of each agent is estimated on the basis of visits they pay and is being paid. The major form of the symbolic struggle is conspicuously ignoring each other. Visits in this model stand for a distribution of publicly recognized attention to the work of one’s colleagues. Academics tend to create circles or scenes requiring mutual recognition on the part of their members, and suppressing recognized awareness of intellectual developments in the outside world. Scenes could be more or less legitimate depending on if their borders coincide with the divisions of classifications of areas and/or subjects, with established disciplines being prototypically-legitimate scenes. I discuss the conditions of the emergence of less-legitimate scenes typical for the periphery of the academic world system.
Citation: Sokolov M. (2021) Nauka kak tseremonial'nyy obmen: teoriya prostranstv vnimaniya, akademicheskogo statusa i simvolicheskoy bor'by [Science as a Ceremonial Exchange: A Theory of Attention Spaces, Academic Status, and Symbolic Struggle]. The Russian Sociological Review, vol. 20, no 3, pp. 9-42 (in Russian)
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