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Vying for credibility in the US Congress: legitimating symbols in the debate over immunization and autism

and specialized quality of scientific knowledge. Concepts such as peer review, internal regulation, and objectivity are hallmarks. The legitimizing symbols of this form of science coincide with what in the Social Studies of Scientific Vying for credibility in the US Congress | 69 Knowledge (SSK) are often referred to as the Mertonian norms (Hess 1997). Within the populist tradition of science, on the other hand, the common man plays a special role as the direct observer, and diviner, of the effects of nature. In fact, it is incumbent upon him to reveal the obvious connections that may be missed by the abstracting gaze of professional scientists. While the elitist model has largely superseded the populist model amongst professional American scientists, the populist model, as illustrated in this article, remains a potent source of legitimating symbols within American society. Background It is the duty of the United States Congress, under the ‘checks and balances’ structure of the US government, to provide oversight to the federal agencies. To fulfill this commitment, and to gain political and public recognition, committees hold investigational oversight hearings to air concerns about the conduct of the federal agencies. Through December 2003, the House Government Reform http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Focaal Berghahn Books

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