2017 Gutenberg Research Award for Karin Knorr Cetina

Sociologist and anthropologist from the University of Chicago receives award for her pioneering interdisciplinary research

23 May 2017

The Gutenberg Research College (GRC) of Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) granted the 2017 Gutenberg Research Award to Professor Karin Knorr Cetina of the University of Chicago at yesterday's annual celebration. Knorr Cetina received the EUR 10,000 prize for her pioneering contributions to anthropology, sociology, and interdisciplinary science studies. The Gutenberg Research Award was launched in 2012 to distinguish outstanding international researchers in various disciplines. "This year, we again honor a globally eminent top-level researcher," said GRC Director Professor Thomas Hieke.

Knorr Cetina is known, among other things, for her innovative studies of the working methods and practical rationality employed by natural scientists and foreign exchange traders. In 1981 she published a monograph entitled "The Manufacture of Knowledge: An Essay on the Constructivist and Contextual Nature of Science." Here she analyzed how scientists generate knowledge through their social and scientific practices. "In the 1980s, this study represented a breakthrough in international research in the subject and significantly contributed to the development of the interdisciplinary field of science studies that was just in the process of emerging at that time," explained Professor Herbert Kalthoff, who nominated Knorr Cetina for the 2017 Gutenberg Research Award and is the coordinator of the Social and Cultural Studies Mainz (SoCuM) Research Unit.

Over the past few years, Knorr Cetina has published studies on the generation of economic knowledge through the interactions of traders in international financial markets and has thus opened up new perspectives for innovative interdisciplinary research. She is currently working on an analysis and description of the modern world in terms of what she calls a "synthetic society," in which human activities are linked through technical artifacts and virtual systems. "This offers great potential for the establishment of a fertile relationship with the JGU Research Unit SoCuM," added Kalthoff.

After earning her doctorate in Cultural Anthropology at the University of Vienna and a subsequent degree in Sociology from the Institute for Advanced Studies in Vienna, Knorr Cetina worked at the University of California in Berkeley, the University of Pennsylvania, Virginia State University, and Wesleyan University in Connecticut. In 1983, she was appointed to a professorship at Bielefeld University. In 2001 she moved to the University of Konstanz and since 2010 she has been Professor for Sociology and Anthropology at the University of Chicago.

"Knorr Cetina's academic career combines extensive interdisciplinarity and a genuine international background," concluded Kalthoff. "She acts as a link between European and Anglo-American sociology and her findings have had an impact far beyond her actual core disciplines."