David Peterson

Area(s) of Interest:  Science, Knowledge, Theory, Ethnography

Sociologists are increasingly coming to see that scholarship on nation states, bureaucracies, and global capitalism is simultaneously about the problems of social measurement and behavioral engineering that these institutions face. The thirst for social scientific data is tremendous and growing. I am a sociologist of science and knowledge who studies how social sciences conceptualize scientific progress and embody what they deem to be the ideals of science. In my dissertation, The Verge of Science, I conducted the first comparative ethnography of a social and a natural science in order to understand how different fields evaluate research and measure progress.

Peterson, David. 2016 “The Depth of Fields: Managing Focus in the Epistemic Subcultures of Mind and Brain Science.” Social Studies of Science, forthcoming.

Peterson, David. 2016. “The Baby Factory: The Production of Statistical Significance in Improbable Circumstances” Socius, 1(2), 1-10.

Peterson, David. 2015. “All that is Solid: Bench-Building at the Frontiers of Two Experimental Sciences.” American Sociological Review, 80(6), 1201-1225.

Hacker-Mullins Student Paper Award from the Science, Knowledge and Technology section of the American Sociological Association, 2016

Winch Award for the best paper presented or published by a Northwestern graduate student, 2014

ASA Student Paper Award- Evolution, Biology, and Society Section of the American Sociological Association, 2010

I am currently working on several projects concerned with what has been called the “replication crisis” in science. In one article, I integrate research in field theory, economic sociology, and the sociology of trust to detail how researchers are confronting new levels of skepticism. With a collaborator, I am working on an Annual Review of Sociology article on replication and an article demonstrating how the focus on transparency,  replication, and meta-analysis represents a new vision of scientific objectivity.