Sociology of Social Science


Course Objective

Knowledge and understanding – Students have acquired knowledge and
understanding of:
(1) the emergence of disciplines in the social sciences from general
historical, societal changes;
(2) social sciences as a social activity, with all the concomitant
social differences, forms of inequality, coincidences, forms of
cooperation, et cetera.

Application – Students have acquired the competences to:
(3) recognize the risks of societal developments that threaten the
independence of researchers;
(4) make a well-argued assessment which ethical considerations must
prevail in concrete cases.

Making judgements – Students are able to:
(5) make a critical judgment of the position of the own discipline in
the social sciences;
(6) understand that competition is a driving force in science and make a
critical assessment of unequal chances of success (measured at the level
of countries, languages, gender and ethnicity).

Course Content

Science in general, or social science in particular, is an
institutionalized practice, embedded in a societal context. Science is
people’s work, in which processes of institutionalisation interact with
making rational choices, fully based on scientific insights and
scientific standards. Scientists must operate in social structures of
which they have only partial control. In this sense this course connects
perfectly with one of the main themes in social sciences: the tension
between structure and agency.
Various themes will be discussed weekly within this general framework,
such as: the reasons why new disciplines emerge, societal and political
doubt about the value of science, the white, male, Western hegemony of
science, coincidence in science, fraud, the relationship to clients,
great, inspiring examples of scientists, and the reason why big
scientific debates are rarely settled on the basis of strictly rational

Teaching Methods

Lectures with possible documentaries, online formative tests and clips.

Method of Assessment

Written exam with open questions, gobbets and cloze test.


For this course we use one textbook and a set of articles. The textbook
Eller, J.D. (2017). Social science and historical perspectives: Society,
science, and ways of knowing. London & New York: Routledge.

Target Audience


General Information

Course Code S_SSS
Credits 6 EC
Period P5
Course Level 200
Language of Tuition English
Faculty Faculty of Social Sciences
Course Coordinator dr. F. Colombijn
Examiner dr. F. Colombijn
Teaching Staff dr. F. Colombijn

Practical Information

You need to register for this course yourself

Teaching Methods Reading
Target audiences

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