A Historical Analysis of an Academic Field
9 Introduction The academic discipline as the basic unit of social organisation of knowledge production and development is an essential feature of modern science (Messer- Davidow, Shumway & Sylvan, 1993; Whitley, 1984). Scientific and social re- search rests primarily on and in communities of arguers, enquirers and critics. A condition for the possibility of such communities of scholars is their common language of shared recognition and references to some common rules of intellec- tual and creative behaviour (Bridges, 2006). Thus, each discipline internalises its aim and becomes increasingly specialised (Hausman, 1979). A discipline is revealed to be an interacting system in which research tasks and specialities are created, abolished, and reshaped by internal and external for- ces (Klein, 1993). Belth (1962) defined a discipline as ‘a branch of knowledge acquired through study and research requiring scholarly training’ (p. 193). Simi- larly, a decade later, Kiger (1971) defined a discipline as a ‘recognised branch or segment of knowledge within rational knowledge’, with ‘certain generally agreed-upon canons and standards’ (p. 99). From these and other definitions it is apparent that a discipline is composed of some major elements including commonly understood norms of enquiry, shared discourse, shared goals, shared systematic communication, common edu- cational apprenticeship, and relative unanimity of group judgment in profes- sional matters (Bridges, 2006; Kuhn, 1977). Additionally, despite their temporal shifts of character, disciplines have recognisable identities and particular cultural attributes (Becher, 1989). By insisting that authors refer to particular scientists and currently established evidence, reputational disciplines ensure that work...
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