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Dissertation Information for William Kinsella

- William Kinsella

- Ph.D.

- Library and Information Science

- Rutgers University (USA) (1997)

- Stanley Deetz

- Hartmut Mokros
- Herb Simmons
- Jenny Mandelbaum
- Michele Dillon

MPACT Status: Fully Complete

Title: Communication and the construction of knowledge in a scientific community: An interpretive study of the Princeton University Plasma Physics Laboratory

Abstract: This document describes an interpretive field study of communication processes within a "big science" research community, conducted during the period September 1993-April 1996. Field observations, interviews, and textual analysis were used to examine communication processes at the Princeton University Plasma Physics Laboratory throughout the lifetime of a critical experimental program and during a period of profound institutional change. The study addresses three interrelated sets of issues: communication and the organization of scientific work; the role of communication in the construction of scientific knowledge; and the situation of scientific research within broader social, political, economic, and cultural contexts.

The study develops a theoretical framework for understanding these issues and their interrelationships, employing a social constructionist and structurational model of the scientific enterprise and incorporating insights from communication theory, critical organizational studies, and rhetorical, literary, and sociological studies of science. This conceptual framework provides a starting point for a meaning-centered approach to fieldwork at the Princeton laboratory, utilizing ethnographic and other interpretive methods of data collection and analysis.

The resulting analysis examines the tensions between the autonomy of individual scientists and the constraints produced by larger sociocultural systems including the laboratory; its sponsoring agency, the Department of Energy; and the national and international plasma physics communities. The rhetorical activities of scientists are highlighted as they produce scientific knowledge by simultaneously utilizing and constructing the discourse of their field; similarly, discursive strategies of the laboratory are examined as it interacts with its government sponsor. Scientific knowledge is seen as both a product of rhetorical construction and as a set of rhetorical resources, and as a culturally-bound and culturally-constitutive phenomenon.

MPACT Scores for William Kinsella

A = 0
C = 0
A+C = 0
T = 0
G = 0
W = 0
TD = 0
TA = 0
calculated 2008-01-31 06:10:41

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Students under William Kinsella

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