Hot spots and hot moments in scientific collaborations and social movements

John N. Parker, Edward J. Hackett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

100 Scopus citations

Abstract

Emotions are essential but little understood components of research; they catalyze and sustain creative scientific work and fuel the scientific and intellectual social movements (SIMs) that propel scientific change. Adopting a micro-sociological focus, we examine how emotions shape two intellectual processes central to all scientific work: conceiving creative ideas and managing skepticism. We illustrate these processes through a longitudinal study of the Resilience Alliance, a tightly networked coherent group collaborating at the center of a burgeoning scientific social movement in the environmental sciences. We show how emotions structured and were structured by the group's growth and development, and how socio-emotive processes facilitated the rapid production of highly creative science and helped overcome skepticism by outsiders. Hot spots and hot moments-that is, brief but intense periods of collaboration undertaken in remote and isolated settings-fueled the group's scientific performance and drove the SIM. Paradoxically, however, the same socio-emotive processes that ignited and sustained creative scientific research also made skepticism more likely to occur and more difficult to manage. Similarly, emotions and social bonding were essential for the group's growth and development, but increased size and diversity have the potential to erode the affective culture that generated initial successes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)21-44
Number of pages24
JournalAmerican Sociological Review
Volume77
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 1 2012

Keywords

  • collaboration
  • emotions
  • science
  • skepticism
  • social movements

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science

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