24 Soc. Probs. 500 (1976-1977)
Obstacles to Environmental Research by Scientists and Technologists: A Social Structural Analysis

handle is hein.journals/socprob24 and id is 512 raw text is: OBSTACLES TO ENVIRONMENTAL RESEARCH BY SCIENTISTS
Northwestern University
A key element in the social movement for environmental protection has
been the impact analysis role of scientists and technologists. Because
of the structural positions of scientific and technological institutions
relative to monopoly capital interests, serious constraints exist on exten-
sions of these roles. For scientists, the constraints include: (1) the division
of scientific labor and power; (2) the control of scientific missions;
(3) the control of publication/communication access; and (4) direct social
and economic coercion of scientists. For technologists, there are at least
four additional constraints: (1) control over access to data; (2) the control
of consultantships; (3) the ideology of feasibility; and (4) the non-
transferability of specialized engineering skills.
While the development of new organizational forms may encourage
more impact analysis, it is difficult to judge how much transformation
these will utlimately promote.
A key element of the movement to improve environmental protection in advanced
industrial societies has been the contribution of scientific and technological research and
evaluation to stimulate changes in production. Much of this contribution has been in the
form of impact analysis, documenting what economists would call the negative externali-
ties of production, in both the ecological and increasingly, the socio-economic spheres.'
This paper considers the obstacles to future environmental reforms confronting the continua-
tion and expansion of such scientific-technological activities. The analysis derives from a
view of environmental protection in a dialectical relationship to industrial expansion
(Schnaiberg, 1975). From this perspective, proto-environmental research typically involves
conflicts between scientific-technological investigators and the primary beneficiaries of
industrial expansion-the controllers of large-scale or monopoly capital (Baran & Sweezy,
1966; O'Connor, 1973).2 In capitalist societies, these conflicts also extend to that portion
of the State principally concerned with enhancing private capital accumulation (O'Connor,
1973: 6-7).
In this paper, science and technology are viewed as social institutions, engaged in social,
political, and economic relationships to the controllers of the major means of production.
The emphasis is not on individual scientific-technological creativity, but on the collective
products of these institutions, and the patterns of social control over these institutions
exercised by dominant classes. Science, following Schooler (1971: 27) and others is the
social creation of knowledge, while technology is the application of knowledge in the
'Externalities refers to all those dimensions of production whose effects range beyond the produc-
tive entity. Negative externalities are the adverse dimensions, including environmental degradation.
2 Monopoly capital is defined by O'Connor (1973: 15) as the sector of industry in which produc-
tion depends less on growth of employment than on increases in physical capital per worker and techni-
cal progress. Production is typically large scale and markets are normally national or international in
scope...  He, along with Baran and Sweezy (1966) distinguishes between the monopoly sector and the
competitive sector of capital interests, the latter are smaller-scale, unstable, labor-intensive, and local/
regional. Neither definition provides quantitative boundaries for distinguishing the two sectors of capital
interests-although O'Connor (1973: 15-16) estimates that about one-third of the U.S. labor force is
employed in monopoly capital industries, primarily manufacturing and mining.

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