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The Pasteurization of France
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 ...more
Paperback, 273 pages
Published October 15th 1993 by Harvard University Press
(first published 1984)
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A. Summary: This is a semiotic study of Pasteur based on three French journals. There are continuous comparisons in the book between what Tolstoy did in War and Peace and what Latour does here. Tolstoy attacks the hagiography of Napoleon showing how he was only a part of the war, Latour does the same with Pasteur. To understand the greatness of a man all the actors in which he associates must be examined. Latour concludes that the revolution in medicine in the 19th was not attributable solely to ...more
Dec 17, 2010 Miquixote rated it really liked it
Read this in my Sociology of Medicine university course. Latour sucessfully shows how society and its scientific developments grow together. He doesn't fall into deterministic traps that society controls everything or that science (or scientists) develop irregardless of social forces. Crucial social forces like the public hygiene movement, the medical profession (both military physicians and private practitioners), and colonial interests were in fact necessarily cooperating with the briliant/emp ...more
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 policy and history, yet the translation to English is spotty and sometimes difficult to read. However, I could easily see why the second part of his work is more appealing, and is more forward thinking than his "War and Peace of Microbes."
Latour does a good job at showing the social and cultural prerequisites necessary to encourage the French to accept Pasteur's microbes as revealed truth, as well as the process by which these conditions are obscured in favor of the "Great Man" thesis.
Bruno Latour is a French sociologist of science and anthropologist and an influential theorist in the field of Science and Technology Studies (STS). After teaching at the École des Mines de Paris (Centre de Sociologie de l'Innovation) from 1982 to 2006, he is now Professor and vice-president for research at Sciences Po Paris (2007), where he is associated with the Centre de sociologie des organisa ...moreMore about Bruno Latour...