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Message posted on 22/02/2021

CfP ‘Struggles for Power, Legitimacy, and Control between Disciplines within Interdisciplinary Research Organizations’ – 4S Annual Meeting 2021

                Dear colleagues,

We are pleased to invite you to submit a paper proposal to the Open
Panel *‘Struggles
for Power, Legitimacy, and Control between Disciplines within
Interdisciplinary Research Organizations’ (Open Panel 168) *at the 2021 4S
Annual Meeting (October 6-9, 2021). More information is included below. The
deadline for submission is March 8. Please feel free to contact us if you
have any questions.

Thank you!

Best regards,

Simcha Jong and Richelle Boone, INSCONS project ,
Leiden University

Contact: or

*‘Struggles for Power, Legitimacy, and Control between Disciplines within
Interdisciplinary Research Organizations’ (Open Panel 168)*

As the scientific endeavour is increasingly oriented towards addressing
‘global challenges’, interdisciplinary research organisations are
ever more important. Within such organisations different disciplinary
groups collaborate while at the same time vying for power, legitimacy, and
control. Our panel examines how these dynamics affect the work within
interdisciplinary research organisations. Unevenly distributed power among
participating disciplines and, related to that, divergent disciplinary
(epistemic) statuses can for instance be a risk for successful
interdisciplinary collaboration (Reich & Reich, 2006). Organization members
might for example experience hindering feelings of subordination, or of
superiority. And if an organization is part of a wider interdisciplinary
field, ‘disciplinary inequalities’ within this field ─ such as unequal
funding, publishing or job opportunities for members of different
disciplines ─ could be perpetuated or have an impact on the social dynamics
at the organizational level.

Questions we seek to address during the panel are: What kind of challenges
do disciplinary power struggles pose for the success of interdisciplinary
research organizations? Might there be any epistemic effects? And how
exactly do the dynamics between members of different disciplines at the
scientific field level relate to those at the organizational level?
Organizational structures are said to reflect the power relations among
constituting groups (e.g. Collins, 1981), is this effect present in
interdisciplinary research organizations? Even in cases where policy makers
are in charge of determining the organizational set-up? How do, or might,
research organizations mitigate ─ for social or epistemic reasons ─
tensions between participating disciplines? In which ways can STS insights,
for instance about the hierarchical structure of scientific fields (Albert
& Kleinman, 2011), epistemic cultures (Knorr-Cetina, 1999) or (other)
laboratory studies observations on power struggles, inform strategies to
deal with disciplinary power imbalances in interdisciplinary research


Albert, M., & Kleinman, D. L. (2011). Bringing Bourdieu to Science and
Technology Studies. Minerva, 49(3), 263─273.

Collins, R. (1981). On the Microfoundations of Macrosociology. American
Journal of Sociology, 86(5), 984─1014.

Knorr-Cetina, K. (1999). Epistemic Cultures: How the Sciences Make
Knowledge. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

Reich, S. M., & Reich, J. A. (2006). Cultural competence in
interdisciplinary collaborations: A method for respecting diversity in
research partnerships. American journal of community psychology, 38(1─2),

Keywords: Interdisciplinary research organizations, disciplinary power
struggles, power and legitimacy and control, organizational strategies,
role of STS
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