A Historical Analysis of an Academic Field
Chapter One: Identities and boundaries: The structure of academic fields 15
15 Chapter One: Identities and boundaries: The structure of academic fields The nature of disciplines and fields of study has received considerable attention from scholars in varied departments, most of which are the philosophy of science, sociology of science, disciplinarity and education. Scholars have exten- sively debated the meaning of the university, the processes of knowledge produc- tion, and the essence of academic disciplines, including their purposes, bounda- ries and outcomes. This varied scholarship is outlined briefly in this chapter and constitutes the conceptual framework of this book. The essence of the university The university, a relatively old social institution, was founded approximately se- ven centuries ago for all manner of reasons, including the preservation of an old faith, the conservation of culture, the training of new priests and skilled workers, expanding the frontiers of knowledge, and in recent periods conducting empirical research (Cardozier, 1987; Lee, 1968; Wolff, 1969). Yet the extent and ratio of each role function varies from one university to another and from one discipline to another (Coser, 1971). The work of university faculty, nevertheless, has long been devoted to teach- ing (Lee, 1968), either to engage in scholarly activity of as high a standard as possible (Bialecki, 2001), or simply to prepare young students for admission to the profession in the larger society (Wolff, 1969). Thus, universities in many Western countries have furnished the professional training needed by a growing nation and have contributed to the efficiency of its economy by making possible the specialisation required...
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