12 January 2009

Sociology of mathematicians?

Has anybody seriously looked at mathematicians from an anthropological or sociological perspective? I was talking to some sociologists last night, and apparently various people coming from the disciplines that study people have looked at biologists in this way; this got me wondering.


Karsten W. said...

there is a german book called "Innenwelt der Mathematik" written by Bettina Heintz on this subject.

sam shah said...

Mechanizing Proof, by Donald MacKenzie is close to what you're talking about.

It's actually an amazing book; it's on the "sociology of proof."

He's written quite a bit on topics you might find interesting.I think his more recent stuff is on the sociology of financial markets.

What I would like to read is an anthropological account of mathematicians. I've read anthropological accounts of physicists, weapons laboratory scientists, and biologists, but to read a true anthropological analysis of a group of mathematicians (a department, a field, a network of collaborators) would be fascinating!

Michael Lugo said...


thanks for the pointer. My German is good enough that I can tell from the abstract I'd like to read this if it were in English -- but unfortunately I'm not sure I'd want to read it in German.


The MacKenzie book isn't exactly what I was talking about, but it seems interesting nonetheless. I was using "sociology" in the way that you're using "anthropology", and the book you say you would like to read is the book I'd like to read too.