Europe’s New Scientific Elite: Social Mechanisms of Science in the European Research Area, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Europe’s New Scientific Elite

Social Mechanisms of Science in the European Research Area, 1st Edition

By Barbara Hoenig


202 pages | 5 B/W Illus.

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Paperback: 9780367085391
pub: 2018-10-18
Hardback: 9781138214439
pub: 2017-04-24
eBook (VitalSource) : 9781315446042
pub: 2017-04-21
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This book examines the question of whether the process of European integration in research funding has led to new forms of oligarchization and elite formation in the European Research Area. Based on a study of the European Research Council (ERC), the author investigates profound structural change in the social organization of science, as the ERC intervenes in public science systems that, until now, have largely been organized at the national level.

Against the background of an emerging new science policy, Europe’s New Scientific Elite explores the social mechanisms that generate, reproduce and modify existing dynamics of stratification and oligarchization in science, shedding light on the strong normative impact of the ERC’s funding on problem-choice in science, the cultural legitimacy and future vision of science, and the building of new research councils of national, European and global scope.

A comparative, theory-driven investigation of European research funding, this book will appeal to social scientists with interests in the sociology of knowledge.


'Hoenig's case study is a major contribution to the sociology of science and knowledge. Based on rich empirical material and within an advanced theoretical framework, Hoenig demonstrates the consequences of European science policy, especially with respect to the formation of new scientific elites and the impact on the cognitive content of research.' - Gerald Angermann-Mozetic, Karl-Franzens-Universität Graz, Austria

'Science studies has generally neglected how funding arrangements construct hierarchies within science and establish particular meanings of research excellence that position and (dis)place other possible meanings. With great nuance, Barbara Hoenig reveals the detailed politics of knowledge construction underlying the European Research Council in what is the first major study of ‘Europe’ as a project of scientific integration. This is a superb and timely book.' – John Holmwood, University of Nottingham, UK

‘Science, including social science, has usually been at least partially international in the scope of its operations, but international linkages and collaborations have been largely personal or have involved fragile organisational ties. The institutional initiative studied here, the ERC, endeavours to scale-up European science to operate at a formal supranational level. Barbara Bach-Hoenig’s study deploys a magnificent array of theoretical and empirical resources to study its early operation.’ – Charles Crothers, Auckland University of Technology, New Zealand

Table of Contents

List of figures

List of tables


List of Abbreviations

Chapter 1. Introduction

Chapter 2. The problem: Establishing ‘excellence’ in socially stratified science

Chapter 3. State of research: Controversial ideas on science and public research in a global marketplace

Chapter 4. Explaining social change by Europeanization of science: An analytical approach

Chapter 5. Methodology: Judging scientific ‘excellence’

Chapter 6. The social structure of the European Research Area: A country comparison

Chapter 7. Knowledge of ‘European excellence’: The grant-winning research

Chapter 8. The cultural structure of the European Research Area at supranational level: The case of the European Research Council

Chapter 9. The sampling: What is a scientific elite?

Chapter 10. The grantees: Social choice and mechanisms in elite career trajectories

Chapter 11. The panellists: Social choice and mechanisms in grant peer review

Chapter 12. Social consequences and conclusions: Cumulative advantage and the case of the European Research Council



About the Author

Barbara Hoenig is Postdoctoral Researcher at the Institute of Education & Society of the University of Luxembourg. She obtained her qualifications in sociology at the University of Graz (Diploma 2001, PhD 2009) and the University of Innsbruck (Habilitation 2016). She has published on the sociology of science and knowledge, the history of social sciences, social inequalities and European integration.

About the Series

Public Intellectuals and the Sociology of Knowledge

Public Intellectuals and the Sociology of Knowledge
The sociology of knowledge has a long and distinctive history. Its function has always been that of attempting to bridge the aspirations of the discursive and institutional founding fathers of sociology with that of modern attempts to define the discipline through the study of the emergence, role and social function of ideas. However, since Mannheim first outlined his program in the 1920s, the sociology of knowledge has undergone many changes. The field has become extremely differentiated and some of its best practitioners now sail under different flags and discuss their work under different headings. This new series charts the progress that has been made in recent times - despite the different labels. Be it intellectual history Cambridge-style, the new sociology of ideas which is now gaining strength in North America, or the more European cultural analysis which is associated with the name of Bourdieu, this series aims at being inclusive while simultaneously striving for sociological insight and excellence. All too often modern attempts in the sociology of knowledge, broadly conceived, have only looked at form while they downplayed or disregarded content, substance of argument or meaning. This series will help to rectify this.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Sociology / General