Research Project
Professionalization and Deprofessionalization in the Public Context of Science since 1970. A Case-Based Analysis of Four Research Fields in the U.S. and in Germany

New Publication

Legitimizing Science


This project considers the relationship between science and the general public as a relationship shaped by two distinct professions: science and journalism. According to the revised theory of professionalization (Ulrich Oevermann), professions deal with particular kinds of problems, and they develop a particular habitus in response.

In this project, we are interested in how this habitus has been transformed in the public context of science since 1970. How have scientists adjusted their professional habitus in response to the changing nature of the public sphere? What has been the impact of television on fields of science? How have journalists adopted to these changes?

We address such issues by analyzing four research fields and the history of their public perception in the US and in Germany: Astrophysics, Islamic studies, stem cell research, and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The project focuses on sample cases including interviews with scientists and journalists in both countries. Objective Hermeneutics will provide the methodological tools for analyzing interviews and other texts.

This project is carried out from October 2011 by PD Dr. Andreas Franzmann (sociology) and PD Dr. Axel Jansen (history) at Tübingen University's Department of History in cooperation with the Department of History at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).

Support for this three-year project comes from the Volkswagen Foundation.