The pasteurization of France

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Harvard University Press, 1988 - Biography & Autobiography - 273 pages
2 Reviews

What can one man accomplish, even a great man and brilliant scientist? Although every town in France has a street named for Pasteur, was he alone able to stop people from spitting, persuade them to dig drains, influence them to undergo vaccination? Pasteur's success depended upon a whole network of forces, including the public hygiene movement, the medical profession (both military physicians and private practitioners), and colonial interests. It is the operation of these forces, in combination with the talent of Pasteur, that Bruno Latour sets before us as a prime example of science in action.

Latour argues that the triumph of the biologist and his methodology must be understood within the particular historical convergence of competing social forces and conflicting interests. Yet Pasteur was not the only scientist working on the relationships of microbes and disease. How was he able to galvanize the other forces to support his own research? Latour shows Pasteur's efforts to win over the French public--the farmers, industrialists, politicians, and much of the scientific establishment.

Instead of reducing science to a given social environment, Latour tries to show the simultaneous building of a society and its scientific facts. The first section of the book, which retells the story of Pasteur, is a vivid description of an approach to science whose theoretical implications go far beyond a particular case study. In the second part of the book, "Irreductions," Latour sets out his notion of the dynamics of conflict and interaction, of the "relation of forces." Latour's method of analysis cuts across and through the boundaries of the established disciplines of sociology, history, and the philosophy of science, to reveal how it is possible not to make the distinction between reason and force. Instead of leading to sociological reductionism, this method leads to an unexpected irreductionism.

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Review: The Pasteurization of France

User Review  - Ben - Goodreads

Going against much of the crowd, the first part of the work has significantly more substance than his 'Irreductions.' Latour is clearly a significant scholar on the subject of science and technology ... Read full review

Review: The Pasteurization of France

User Review  - JerryB - Goodreads

I'm actually reading the "appended" manifesto "Irreductions", which is absolutely brilliant. Read full review

Contents

Introduction Materials and Methods
3
Strong Microbes and Weak Hygienists
13
You Will Be Pasteurs of Microbes
59
Medicine at Last
111
Transition
146
Introduction
153
Sociologies
176
Anthropologics
192
Irreduction of The Sciences
212
Bibliography
239
Notes
251
Index
271
Copyright

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About the author (1988)

Bruno Latour is Professor and Vice-President for Research at the Sciences Po, Paris.

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