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date: 25 January 2021

Abstract and Keywords

Knowledge is socially distributed, and the distribution of knowledge is socially structured, but the distribution and the structures within which it is produced and reproduced—often two separate things—have varied enormously. Disciplines are one knowledge formation of special significance. They can be thought of as very old, or as a very recent phenomenon: In the very old sense, disciplines begin with the creation of rituals of certification and exclusion related to knowledge; in the more recent sense, they are the product of university organization, and especially that part of university organization that joins research and teaching, knowledge production and reproduction, in the modern research university. If we understand the general structural constraints on knowledge formations, we can understand the peculiar strengths of disciplines, as well as the historical alternatives to disciplines and the motives for finding alternatives.

Keywords: knowledge formation, discipline, research, organization, university, foundation, Mode 2

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