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Is interdisciplinarity distinctive? Scientific collaborations through research projects in natural sciences

Benz, Pierre and Rossier, Thierry (2022) Is interdisciplinarity distinctive? Scientific collaborations through research projects in natural sciences. Social Science Information, 61 (1). 179 - 214. ISSN 0539-0184

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Identification Number: 10.1177/05390184221077787


This article focuses on (inter)disciplinary collaborations through the co-application to research projects funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation, the main provider of research funding in Switzerland. We suggest that interdisciplinarity is a potential mode of distinction and that its frequency and the disciplines involved may be associated with specific configurations of scientific, institutional, international, extra-academic, and network resources. We rely on biographical data on all biology and chemistry professors in Switzerland in 2000 (n = 342), including all their funding from the Swiss National Science Foundation. In a first step, we highlight the role of the resources mentioned previously in structuring the symbolic hierarchy of disciplines using multiple correspondence analysis. In a second step, we look at how interdisciplinarity fits into these structures based on an opposition between international and institutional resources and on the unequal distribution of scientific (and social) capital. We show that these interdisciplinary logics of social distinction differ across the two disciplines. On the one hand, collaborations with biologists seem to help chemists reaching dominant positions in the academic field, while their degree of internationality is associated with interdisciplinary collaborations. On the other hand, the biologists who are the most endowed with symbolic capital are more likely to collaborate with the medical sciences.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2022 The Authors
Divisions: Sociology
Subjects: Q Science > Q Science (General)
H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Date Deposited: 10 Mar 2022 12:12
Last Modified: 19 Jul 2024 23:39

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