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Making Meteorology: Social Relations and Scientific Practice
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Sociology.
2005 (English)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This thesis is about the production of knowledge in meteorological research. Meteorology is an interesting case because of its crucial role in defining the climate change problem, but also because of its reliance on simulation modeling, a comparatively little studied scientific practice. The thesis provides an analysis of the central practices of simulation modeling and field experimentation. It draws upon concepts from social world theory, where practice is closely related to work. The thesis also employs the notion of translation, as developed by the actor-network approach, in order to analyse how different practices and entities become associated with each other. Empirical data was collected with interviews and participant observation and most of the fieldwork was conducted at the Department of Meteorology, Stockholm University.

The first four chapters are preliminary: Introduction, theory, method and a review of the field and its history (Chapters 1–4). The empirical findings are then presented in four chapters. Chapter 5 presents how meteorological experimentalists organize collaborations by connecting and translating different practices. The use of measuring instruments has an important role in this. In Chapter 6, modeling work is described in detail. The differences between modeling for weather forecasting and for research purposes are analyzed and in particular, the construction of simulation models. It is concluded that this involves a materialization of theoretical models.

The next two chapters take their point of departure in intersections where modeling practice meets experimentation. Chapter 7 is focused on model evaluation and I conclude that the comparison of observations and model output is needed to produce reference in simulation modeling and thus, legitimate this practice. The second intersection, discussed in Chapter 8, is the construction of new components of simulation models, so-called parameterizations. In addition to the previously mentioned sources, the analysis in this chapter is also based on research funding applications. It is concluded that climate research is constructed in such a way that parameterizations become potential boundary objects that shape the relationship between experimentalists and modelers.

The final chapter discusses the central findings of the thesis. It is structured around different themes within social world theory: subworlds and segmentation, legitimation, arena processes, and intersections. Crucial methodological issues are revisited as well. It is shown how climate modeling shapes meteorological research and the consequences of simulation modeling practice for scientific work more generally are outlined as well. The chapter also includes an extensive discussion of the utility of the concept boundary object.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Acta Universitatis Stockholmiensis, 2005. , 259 p.
Stockholm studies in sociology, ISSN 0491-0885 ; N.S., 25
Keyword [en]
scientific practice, social worlds, meteorology, climate research
National Category
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-701ISBN: 91-85445-14-2OAI: diva2:197465
Public defence
2005-11-25, hörsal 9, hus D, Universitetsvägen 10, Stockholm, 10:00 (English)
Available from: 2005-10-26 Created: 2005-10-26 Last updated: 2012-10-05Bibliographically approved

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