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Harry Collins

Harry Collins (born 1943) is a professor at the School of Social Sciences at Cardiff University. While at the University of Bath Professor Collins developed the Bath School approach to the Sociology of Scientific Knowledge. His best known book is the 1993 The Golem: What Everyone Should Know About Science.
In Changing Order - Replication and Induction in Scientific Practice, Collins outlines a general theory of sociology of science. Drawing from the concepts of "Language Game" and "Forms of Life", derived from the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein, he seeks an explanation for how scientists follow rules and patterns when performing experiments and scientific practice. Collins' perspective is usually called a relativist position, although this is a strong over-simplification.

Collins is often affiliated with the Sociology of Scientific Knowledge.
Collins has written for over 30 years on the sociology of gravitational wave physics. His publications in this area include: "The Seven Sexes: Study in Sociology of a Phenomenon, or Replication of Experiments in Physics" "Son of Seven Sexes: The Social Destruction of a Physical Phenomenon". He has traced the search for gravitational waves, and has shown how scientific data can be subject to interpretative flexibility, and how social or 'non-scientific' means can be sometimes used to close scientific controversies.
In an article in Science as Practice and Culture, Collins and his co-writer Steven Yearley argue that the Actor-network theory (ANT) approach is a step backwards towards the positivist and realist positions held by early theory of science.
More recently, Collins along with Dr Robert Evans, also of Cardiff University, has published works on what they term the "Third Wave of Science Studies" and, in particular, the idea of interactional expertise. This aims to address questions of legitimacy and extension and public involvement in scientific decision-making. They continue to research and publish on this topic.

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