While several “grand narratives” have been developed to account for the impact of scientific things on scientific practice, there is still very little methodological support for comparative analyses of scientific things. The goal of our article is to sketch the methodological challenges involved in comparatively analyzing scientific things and including their properties in middle-range theories of scientific practice. Methodological challenges arise from the necessity to use scientists' accounts of scientific things, the dilemma between depth and breadth of comparative case-study approaches, and from the necessity to compare accounts of scientific things to each other as well as to social conditions of research. Since the dominant approaches to the study of scientific things avoid the middle levels of abstraction, we suggest using an approach based on a theory of action. Two examples from a recent study of conditions for scientific innovations illustrate our approach to the comparative analysis of properties of scientific things.
Jochen Gläser and Grit Laudel
Sara Van Belle
sets off the next study in a process of accumulation through which at some point middle-range theories can emerge. Indeed, the work of Ray Pawson and Nick Tilley (1997) harkens back to the concept of middle-range theory as defined by Robert Merton
héritage inopiné à une entreprise de normalisation ’. l'Année sociologique 69 ( 1 ): 239 – 251 . 10.3917/anso.191.0239 Pawson , R. 2009 . ‘ On the Shoulders of Merton: Boudon as the Modern Guardian of Middle Range Theory ’. In M. Cherkaoui and
Sam Jackson, Áron Bakos, Birgitte Refslund Sørensen, and Matti Weisdorf
research, as well as that of others, indicates that members of far-right groups are often educated and have rarely been diagnosed with mental illness. Of middle-range theories, he notes that members of far-right groups are not socially isolated, but are