Comparing at the Interface of the Physical and Life Sciences, 1960 to 2000
The project studies the role of practices of comparing in the formation and development of interdisciplinary research fields in 20th century natural sciences. One of the project’s central aspect of focus is the emergence of comparative norms and the formation of comparative knowledge used to delineate and integrate areas of responsibility in the formation of research fields. Here, focus is placed on the partially overlapping research communities in biophysical chemistry and molecular genetics, along with external actors in the scientific institutionalisation of both fields. With a view to the development of the scientific landscape during the 20th century, particular attention is paid to the nature of such “communities of practice”, which contribute to the objectification or naturalisation of scientific standards and societal expectations of the sciences. Here, processes of diffusion among actors in science, medicine, politics and business as well as the momentum of organisations in the system of science play a decisive role.