Tourists in an unknown town: Remapping the social sciences
Abbott, AM'75, PhD'82, proposes a theory of research in the social
sciences that follows a fractal pattern. There's a curious thing
about fractals. Once you recognize a pattern, you begin seeing
them all over the place: in the tangled tops of crab apple trees,
in the early winter waves crashing against the concrete riprap
along the South Shore, and-in Andrew Abbott's case-in the way
knowledge moves through the social sciences.
over matter: Does the mind matter?
course title alone is enough to scare away the slacker and the
faint of heart: "Psychoneuroimmunology." It doesn't help that
on the first day Martha McClintock, who co-teaches the newly developed
undergraduate course with JosÚ Quintans, comments that the name
should really be "Psychosocialneuroendocrinimmunology."
do you pick a textbook for a course that doesn't fall into an
established field? Well, you don't. Such a new science depends
on up-to-the-minute data. "The readings are going to be original
research articles, usually four to five a week, available on reserve,"
says McClintock. The first day of class, McClintock brought up
an article just published in Nature-even Quintans hadn't heard
of it yet.