The Acting Person in Science Practice

Lisa M. Osbeck and Nancy J. Nersessian

in Psychology of Science

Published in print July 2012 | ISBN: 9780199753628
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199950027 | DOI:
The Acting Person in Science Practice

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This chapter questions the appropriate unit of analysis for the psychology of science. There is an integration problem in science studies with two aspects: an artificial divide between sociocultural and rational-cognitive accounts of science, and inadequate incorporation of the “personal” dimension of science. In response to the integration problem, the “acting person” as an analytic focus is proposed and supported by examining exemplars in which “acting” and “person” are invoked as core concepts. The relation of the framework to contemporary “practice” approaches to science is considered. How the acting person as a unit of analysis has been employed to interpret the psychological practices of biomedical engineering research in two innovation-focused laboratory communities is then described. The focus is on two dimensions of activity: emotional expression and identity formation through social positioning. The conceptual advantages and challenges of adopting the acting person as a unit of analysis are discussed.

Keywords: psychology of science; integration problem; science studies; sociocultural accounts; rational-cognitive accounts; acting person; biomedical engineering; emotional expression; identity formation

Chapter.  12738 words. 

Subjects: Cognitive Psychology

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