Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Friday, June 15, 2007

Implications for OA from Pierre Bourdieu

Ulrich Herb, Open Access: Soziologische Aspekte, Information Wissenschaft & Praxis 58, 4 (2007).  Self-archived June 14, 2007.  In German but with this English-language abstract:

Claims for Open Access are mostly underpinned with science-related (Open Access accelerates scientific communication), financial (Open Access alleviates the serials crisis), social (Open Access reduces the Digital Divide), democracy-related (Open Access facilitates participation) and socio-political (Open Access levels disparities) arguments. Using sociological concepts and notions this contribution analyses some of the presumptions mentioned. Naiveties as the assumption that access to information and knowledge would be sufficient to even out disparities are not considered as they are widely disproved by findings from the Sociology of Education and Social Psychology. This contribution focuses strongly on Pierre Bourdieu's theory of (scientific) capital and its implications for the acceptance of Open Access and Michel Foucault's discourse analysis and the implications of Open Access for the Digital Divide concept. Bourdieu's theory of capital implies that the acceptance of Open Access depends on the logic of power and the accumulation of scientific capital. It does not depend on slogans derived from hagiographic self-perceptions of science (e.g. the acceleration of scientific communication). According to Bourdieu's theory it is crucial for Open Access (and associated concepts like alternative impact metrics) how scientists perceive its potential influence on existing processes of capital accumulation. Considering the Digital Divide concept Foucault's discourse analysis suggests that Open Access may intensify disparities, scientocentrisms and ethnocentrisms.