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Replication and the Experimental Ethnography of Science

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The present paper attempts to define an experimental ethnography as an approach to the understanding of scientific thinking. Such an ethnography relies upon the replication of contemporary and historical scientific practices as a means of capturing the cultural and cognitive meanings of the practices in question. The approach is contrasted to the typical kind of laboratory experiment in psychology, and it is argued that replications of scientific practices can reveal dimensions of the microstructure of science and of its context that otherwise may remain invisible. An extended example is presented, based upon replications of the experimental procedures used by Michael Faraday (1791-1867) in 1856 during his examination of the optical properties of gold.


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