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By F. Collyer

This publication reports the sociology of wellbeing and fitness and medication throughout 3 diverse international locations, the us, united kingdom and Australia, studying the character of disciplines and their specialties and posing sociological questions about the formation of highbrow fields and their social relatives.

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The decreasing interest in externalist theories of social change within the sociological community is associated with the broader demise of structuralism, particularly frameworks of Marxism and Structural Functionalism. The ‘cultural turn’ of recent decades and the growth of post-structuralism have had their impact on how we have come to understand intellectual change, ensuring the favouring of the internalist framework. Nevertheless, most sociological explanations of intellectual change acknowledge the interconnections between culture and social structure, and can best be differentiated by their emphasis or bias towards, on the one hand, the cultural sphere, with its focus on social action and meaning; and on the other hand, the social system and its structures of power.

This is a significant shift from the ‘Great Men and Great Deeds’ approach to examining history, where individuals were assumed to be behind intellectual change. It is also a move away from the heroic histories of discovery which were reliant on an orthodox epistemology of private processes of cognition. Instead, a renewed focus on the sphere of social action insists that we ‘see through the personalities . . [and] dissolve them into the network of processes which have brought them to our attention as historical figures’ (Collins 1998:4).

In keeping with this viewpoint, the emphasis is not on sociology as an intellectual tradition but an institutional form within the university system. On the processes of intellectual change and disciplinary formation It would be neglectful of anyone examining intellectual fields or disciplines to ignore theories of how these form and change over time. g. Barnes 1977; Fuchs and Ward 1994; Camic 1995; Fuller 1995; Fourcade-Gourinchas 2001; Groenewegen 2002). For our purposes, where the empirical focus is primarily on disciplines in the recent period, and our historical investigations aimed largely at revealing national differences in sociological practices and the content of sociological knowledge, we need to engage with this body of work only where it can assist with explaining the connections between knowledge and varying institutional forms.

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