The Institutional Production of National Science in the 20th Century

International Sociology, Vol. 24, No. 6, pg. 833-869.

 Emilio J. Castillo

Science and scientific production have been widely promoted as powerful tools for advancing national economic and social development. While much progress has been made in determining whether this is the case, less understood are the underlying factors influencing national scientific activity in the first place, especially during its 20th-century global expansion. In order to advance our understanding of the development of science and world polity, this study investigates in-depth when and under what functional and institutional conditions countries chose to join any of the scientific unions comprising the ICSU, the pre-eminent and oldest international science institution in the world. According to analyses of historical data for 166 countries from 1919 to 1990, functional arguments are only important predictors of the rate at which nation-states join scientific organizations early in the ‘science diffusion’ process. After 1945, institutional factors best account for worldwide national scientific activity: The joining rate increases more quickly during the post-Second World War era with the rise of the world system. This article also provides evidence of both convergence in the evolution of national scientific activities and of the great invariability in the impact of functional and institutional factors for core and peripheral countries over time. The article concludes by discussing the implications of this research for the future study of national scientific production and development in the world.

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(My publication)Posted:Nov 01 2009, 12:00 AM by nick stock
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