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Science and Technology in the Global Cold War$
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Naomi Oreskes and John Krige

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780262027953

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: May 2015

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262027953.001.0001

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Big Science and “Big Science Studies” in the United States and the Soviet Union during the Cold War

Big Science and “Big Science Studies” in the United States and the Soviet Union during the Cold War

(p.393) 13 Big Science and “Big Science Studies” in the United States and the Soviet Union during the Cold War
Science and Technology in the Global Cold War

Elena Aronova

The MIT Press

‘Big Science’ as a notion was coined in 1960 by physicist Alvin Weinberg and physicist-turned-historian Derek de Solla Price, and immediately became the center of heated discussions in the U.S. Simultaneously, in the post-Stalinist Soviet Union, a counterpart of the American discussion of Big Science was epitomized in the concept of Scientific-Technological Revolution, which became the center of a theoretically significant discussions focused on the conditions and consequences of scientific-technical, social and economic change in different political systems. Throughout the Cold War, both the United States and the Soviet Union advocated their ability to offer and display different visions of a modern industrial society, and Big Science played major role in these powerful Cold War imageries. This chapter examines different ways in which Big Science was deployed as a resource to debate, negotiate, and rationalize the concerns and anxieties of the Cold War, on the opposite sides of the political divide. In both political settings, scientists, as well as social theorists, promoted the view that Big Science needs what might be called “Big Science Studies” – an independent expertise, which would provide a systematic assessment and characterization of Big Science, and advise governments accordingly.

Keywords:   Big science, Alvin Weinberg, Derek de Solla Price, Congress for Cultural Freedom, End-of-ideology, Scientific-Technological Revolution, Science Studies

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