Published online by Cambridge University Press: 15 July 2008
In general history and popular culture, the long 1960s, a period roughly beginning in the mid-1950s and ending in the mid-1970s, has been held to be a period of change. This paper offers a model which captures something of the long 1960s as a period of ‘sea change’ resulting from the interference of three waves. Wave One was an institutional dynamic that drew out experts from closed and hidden disagreement into situations where expert disagreement was open to public scrutiny. Wave One also accounts for the multiplication of experts. Wave Two consisted of social movements, institutions and audiences that could carry public scrutiny and provide a home for sea-change cultures. In particular, Wave Two provided the stage, audience and agents to orchestrate a play of disagreeing experts. Wave Three was marked by an orientation towards the self, in diverse ways. Modern science studies is a phenomenon of Wave Three. All three waves must be understood in the context of the unfolding Cold War.
1 The best surveys are E. Mendelsohn, ‘The politics of pessimism: science and technology circa 1968’, in Technology, Pessimism and Postmodernism (ed. Y. Ezrahi, E. Mendelsohn and H. Segal), Amherst, 1994, 151–73; J. R. Ravetz, ‘Orthodoxies, critiques and alternatives’, in The Companion to the History of Modern Science (ed. R. Olby et al.), London, 1990, 898–908.
2 For example, otherwise admirable texts such as D. Farber, The Age of Great Dreams, New York, 1994; and his edited collection The Sixties: From Memory to History, Chapel Hill, 1994; M. Isserman and M. Kazin, America Divided: The Civil War of the 1960s, Oxford, 2000; and A. Marwick, The Sixties: Cultural Revolution in Britain, France, Italy, and the United States, c.1958–c.1974, Oxford, 1998, feature science and technology in a perfunctory way. An exception is H. Brick, Age of Contradiction: American Thought and Culture in the 1960s, New York, 1998.
3 Note, too, that one can regard the long 1960s as containing critical moments of change without subscribing to a ‘long 1960s’. A plausible case can be made, for example, for the shattering importance of the years 1971–4: the end of the Bretton Woods monetary exchange system (with its implications for how investments were permitted to flow) and the oil crisis (with its consequent flood of new petro-money to be invested).
4 P. Friedlander, Rock and Roll: A Social History, Boulder, CO, 2006.
5 J. Hoberman, The Dream Life: Movies, Media, and the Mythology of the Sixties, New York, 2003, 11–12.
6 T. H. Anderson, The Movement and the Sixties, Oxford, 1995, 13.
7 Marwick, op. cit. (2), 7–8.
8 D. A. Hollinger, Science, Jews, and Secular Culture: Studies in Mid-twentieth Century American Intellectual History, Princeton, 1996, 4–7.
9 E. J. Hobsbawm, Age of Extremes: The Short Twentieth Century, 1914–1991, London, 1994.
10 The politics, style, size and form of the BSSRS changed several times. Rosenhead has argued that until 1970 it can be thought of as a ‘classical operation with a distinguished and distinctive pedigree: the establishment of a leftish pressure group to enlighten a liberal elite without alarming it excessively’. Rosenhead, J., ‘BSSRS – ten years’, Science for People (1979), 43/44, 23–5Google Scholar. The proceedings of the conference can be found in W. Fuller (ed.), The Social Impact of Modern Biology, London, 1971.
11 Rosenhead, op. cit. (10).
12 While some might feel that the meeting already conceded too much room, the radicals felt it nevertheless ‘left little scope for those who were inexpert or poorly connected; indeed various steps were taken which had the effect of discouraging grass-roots activity by the membership’. Rosenhead, op. cit. (10).
13 Wilkins et al. to Needham, 20 February 1969, Cambridge University Library, Needham Papers. Needham agreed to be a founder member. The archives of his papers are a major source of insight into the changing nature of the BSSRS.
14 Speakers were Wilkins, Essex mathematician Professor G. A. Barnard, Sussex biologist Professor J. Maynard Smith, R. L. Smith of St Mary's Hospital Medical School, Powell, A. N. Oppenheim of the LSE, and Heinz Wolff, who was at NIMR. Chairs included Professor E. H. S. Burlop, Steven Rose, Professor Henry Miller (vice chancellor at Newcastle), and molecular biologist Professor Martin Pollock of Edinburgh.
15 ‘Inaugural meeting of BSSRS – April 19th Saturday’, undated. Cambridge University Library, Needham Papers.
16 M. Wilkins, ‘Introduction’, in Fuller, op. cit. (10), 5–10.
17 J. Monod, ‘On the logical relationship between knowledge and values’, in Fuller op. cit. (10), 11–12.
18 See D. Steigerwald, The Sixties and the End of Modern America, New York, 1995, 243–71, for 1960s crises more generally.
19 The quantitative evidence, for example, is problematic. Amitai Etzioni and Clyde Z. Nunn reported the results of the Louis Harris poll that the proportion of public expressing ‘great confidence’ in the people ‘running science’ had dropped from 56% (1966) to 37% (1972). Etzioni, A. and Nunn, C. Z., ‘Public views of scientists’, Science (1973), 181, 1123CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed. This, of course, was not a measure of confidence in science.
20 G. Andrews, R. Cockett, A. Hooper and M. Williams (eds.), New Left, New Right and Beyond: Taking the Sixties Seriously, Basingstoke, 1999, on the New Right; Marwick, op. cit. (2), for entrepreneurialism across movements in the long 1960s; Brick, op. cit. (2), 117, for entrepreneurialism, and 188–9, for the New Right.
21 S. Krimsky, Genetic Alchemy: The Social History of the Recombinant DNA Controversy, Cambridge, MA, 1982; Wright, S., ‘Recombinant DNA technology and its social transformation, 1972–1982’, Osiris (1986), 2, 303–60CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed; M. Kenney, Biotechnology: The University–Industrial Complex, New Haven, 1986; D. Dickson, The New Politics of Science, Chicago, 1988, 243–60; S. Wright, Molecular Politics: Developing American and British Regulatory Policy for Genetic Engineering, 1972–1982, Chicago, 1994; A. Thackray (ed.), Private Science: Biotechnology and the Rise of the Molecular Sciences, Philadelphia, 1998; Hughes, S. Smith, ‘Making dollars out of DNA’, Isis (2001), 92, 541–75CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed.
22 P. Jenkins, Decade of Nightmares: The End of the Sixties and the Making of Eighties America, Oxford, 2006.
23 See, for example, S. P. Hays, Explorations in Environmental History, Pittsburgh, 1998, 185–97.
24 E. Russell, War and Nature: Fighting Humans and Insects with Chemicals from World War I to Silent Spring, Cambridge, 2001, 158–63.
25 J. Agar, The Government Machine, Cambridge, MA, 2003.
26 C. Z. Nunn, ‘Is there a crisis of confidence in science?’, Science (1977), 198, 995.
27 Henry Pierce of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette, 1966, quoted in D. Nelkin, Selling Science: How the Press Covers Science and Technology, New York, 1995 (revised edition; first published 1987), 89.
28 Nelkin, op. cit. (27), 89–93.
29 Nelkin, op. cit. (27), 93. Nelkin offers as an example David Perlman, whose career stretched from the 1950s to the 1980s, but whose tone became critical around 1972.
30 See discussion of the Odums in J. B. Hagen, An Entangled Bank: The Origins of Ecosystem Ecology, New Brunswick, 1992.
31 Indeed, institutionalist Wave One literature can actively reject the importance of such orchestrators. Examine the scarcity of references to Rachel Carson, for example, in S. P. Hays, A History of Environmental Politics since 1945, Pittsburgh, 2000. Or again: ‘The entire subject of environmental affairs is attributed to the writings and ideas of some widely read author such as Rachel Carson or Paul Ehrlich, when, in fact, the source of those affairs is found far more in the immediate human circumstances that people experience.’ S. P. Hays, ‘Introduction: an environmental historian amid the thickets of environmental politics’, in idem, op. cit. (23), 8–11, 14–25.
32 D. della Porta and M. Diani, Social Movements: An Introduction, Oxford, 1999; M. Giugni, D. McAdam and C. Tilly (eds.), How Social Movements Matter, Minneapolis, 1999; A. E. Hunt, The Turning: A History of Vietnam Veterans against the War, New York, 1999.
33 P. Braunstein and M. W. Doyle, ‘Historicizing the American counterculture of the 1960s and ’70s', in Imagine Nation: The American Counterculture of the 1960s and '70s (ed. P. Braunstein and M. W. Doyle), London, 2002, 5–14; T. Roszak, The Making of a Counter Culture, Berkeley, 1995 (first published 1968).
34 Roszak, op. cit. (33), 40. Anderson, op. cit. (6), 17. Furthermore, only 13% of US college students in 1969 identified themselves as ‘new left’ (and only 3% outside of college).
35 Roszak, op. cit. (33).
36 Mendelsohn, op. cit. (1), 159.
37 Anderson, op. cit. (6), p. x.
38 A. S. Winston, ‘Science in the service of the Far Right: Henry E. Garrett, the IAAEE, and the Liberty Lobby’, Journal of Social Issues (1998), 54, 179–210. W. H. Tucker, The Science and Politics of Racial Research, Urbana, 1994.
40 Y. Ezrahi, ‘The authority of science in politics’, in Science and Values: Patterns of Tradition and Change (ed. A. Thackray and E. Mendelsohn), New York, 1974, 215–51, 232: ‘the principal audience of the debate was not so much the scientific community itself but the lay public, the contestants were naturally led to invest much effort in building indirect evidence through which science is made more socially visible in order to persuade the public that their opinion is more representative of the true scientific consensus than that of their rivals’.
41 F. Parkin, Middle Class Radicalism, Manchester, 1968; J. Mattausch, A Commitment to Campaign: A Sociological Study of CND, Manchester, 1989.
42 V. Bogdanor and R. Skidelsky, Age of Affluence, 1951–1964, London, 1970.
43 Nigel Young, quoted in J. Green, All Dressed Up: The Sixties and Counterculture, London, 1999, 24–5.
44 L. S. Wittner, The Struggle against the Bomb, Volume 1, One World or None: A History of the World Nuclear Disarmament Movement through 1953, Stanford, 1993, 29.
45 A possible example is the accusation made by the Greater St Louis Committee for Nuclear Information that Edward Teller had ‘a vested interest in arguing that atomic fallout was not harmful. In response, Teller attacked CNI member Edward U. Condon's claim that fallout was dangerous, claiming that it was politically motivated and suspect scientifically because Condon had been investigated by the House Un-American Activities Committee’. Moore, K., ‘Organizing integrity: American science and the creation of public interest organizations, 1955–1975’, American Journal of Sociology (1996), 101, 1592–627, 1614CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed.
46 L. S. Wittner, The Struggle against the Bomb, Volume 2, Resisting the Bomb: A History of the World Nuclear Disarmament Movement, 1954–1970, Stanford, 1997, 39.
47 For the criticism of scientist–activists by strategic analysts, such as Albert Wohlstetter and Herman Kahn in the context of 1960s debates, see Hong, S., ‘Man and machine in the 1960s’, Techné (2004), 7, 49–77Google Scholar.
48 For example, Jamison and Eyerman note, ‘What made it valuable and useful for the movement that eventually took form around its message was its discussion of the alternative ecological solution, “the other road” [i.e. biological controls] … As she outlined those alternatives, she once again, as in all her writings, let the scientists themselves speak, bringing not only people but dispute, contradiction, difference of opinion into the world of the expert. Perhaps even more important than the particular conflict she wrote about – between chemical and biological insect control – was the presentation of conflict itself’. A. Jamison and R. Eyerman, Seeds of the Sixties, Berkeley, 1994, 99–100. My emphasis.
49 B. Commoner, Science and Survival, London, 1971 (first published 1966), 127. My emphasis.
50 For example, Wittner, op. cit. (46), 455.
51 A. Feenberg, Questioning Technology, London, 1999, 4.
52 Feenberg, op. cit. (51), 31.
53 Feenberg, op. cit. (51), 43.
54 Feenberg's examples are client-centred professionalism, ‘changed medical practices in fields such as childbirth and experimentation on human subjects’, participatory management and design, ‘communication applications of computers’, and ‘environmentally conscious technological advance’.
55 Feenberg, op. cit. (51), 4.
56 Edgar Friedenberg, ‘LA of the intellect’, New York Review of Books, 14 November 1963, 11–12, discussed in Brick, op. cit. (2), 24–5.
58 Wisnioski, op. cit. (57), 320.
59 S. W. Leslie, The Military–Industrial–Academic Complex at MIT and Stanford, New York, 1993, 242. The implication is that the technicians and scientists working directly on the defence projects were on the whole unsympathetic to the protesters. Likewise at MIT one graduate student told a reporter, ‘What I'm designing may one day be used to kill people. I don't care. I'm given an interesting technological problem and I get enjoyment out of solving it.’ ‘Most [laboratory workers] blamed the trouble on outside agitators with no sense of the laboratory's real mission or accomplishments.’ Leslie, op. cit., 238.
60 Leslie, op. cit. (59), 242–4.
61 Leslie, op. cit. (59), 235. Dow Chemical had sought graduate recruits.
62 See Wisnioski, op. cit. (57), 323, for discussion of this conversion as pragmatic rather than ideological.
63 B. Magasanik, J. Ross and V. Weisskopf, ‘No research strike at MIT’, Science (1969), 163, 517, quoted in Leslie, op. cit. (59), 233.
64 Leslie, op. cit. (59), 233. See also J. Allen (ed.), March 4: Students, Scientists, and Society, Cambridge, MA, 1970.
65 Leslie, op. cit. (59), 250.
66 L. S. Wittner, The Struggle against the Bomb, Volume 3, Toward Nuclear Abolition: A History of the World Nuclear Disarmament Movement, 1971 to the Present, Stanford, 2003, 11.
67 Wittner, op. cit. (46), 172–3.
68 Moore, op. cit. (45), 1592–627.
69 Moore, op. cit. (45), 1594.
70 The best single piece of evidence is the following response to the call for the APS to take a stand on the Vietnam War: ‘It would be unwise and uncalled for to jeopardize the purely scientific nature of the APS and the harmony between its members by introducing politics in any form and of any denomination. Let those who must begin their own society.’ Goetz Oertel, letter to editor of Physics Today, February 1968, quoted in Moore, op. cit. (45), 1610.
71 Moore, op. cit. (45), 1608. Her emphasis (and an emphasis that works here too). The quotation is discussing Barry Commoner's experience in setting up the Greater St Louis Committee for Nuclear Information (CNI), precursor to SIPI, and is clearly in line with the account of Commoner above.
72 Wisnioski, op. cit. (57), 325–6.
73 Wisnioski, op. cit. (57), 327.
74 Moore explicitly argues that focusing on ‘misuse’ of science was a ploy to avoid the ‘serious problems’ raised by ‘multiple interpretations of evidence [that] were possible among scientists, undermining the claims of scientists to universal standards of interpretation’ that arose in publicly observed controversy. Moore, op. cit. (45), 1613.
75 Ravetz, too, emphasizes demographic forces – an affluent, marketeered, free youth – underpinning critique. Ravetz, op. cit. (1).
77 Marcuse's analysis is framed within his concept of an ‘advanced industrial society’. Technology was part of this, and science, in turn, part of technology. Marcuse's framework therefore invited critiques of science, particularly from his New Left readership, as part of a critique of advanced industrial society. ‘Revolutionary consciousness-raising’ was a strategy proposed in H. Marcuse, One-Dimensional Man: Studies in the Ideology of Advanced Industrial Society, Boston, 1964.
78 J. Ellul, The Technological Society, tr. John Wilkinson, New York, 1964, 25.
79 Ellul, op. cit. (78), 43.
80 ‘Die Frage nach der Technik’ as a lecture dates from 1949. It was published in a collection of essays in 1954.
81 Ellul, op. cit. (78), 110.
82 Ellul. op. cit. (78), 80.
83 Ellul, op. cit. (78), 32–3.
84 This case for the influence of personalism in the long 1960s is advanced in J. J. Farrell, The Spirit of the Sixties: Making Postwar Radicalism, London, 1997.
85 Ellul, op. cit. (78), 10, 312.
86 Ellul, op. cit. (78), 45.
87 M. Berman, The Politics of Authenticity: Radical Individualism and the Emergence of Modern Society, London, 1971, 323. Berman's emphasis, but, again, the emphasis works here too.
88 Roszak, op. cit. (33), 208.
89 Roszak, op. cit. (33), 215.
90 Roszak, op. cit. (33), 217. What sorts of psychology is unclear. Perhaps something like C. T. Tort, ‘States of consciousness and state-specific sciences’, Science (1972), 176, 1203–10.
91 Roszak, op. cit. (33), 56, 62.
92 Rose and Rose note how unconcerned with science were key authors of the British New Left such as Raymond Williams and Perry Anderson: H. Rose and S. Rose, The Radicalisation of Science, London, 1976, 13.
93 Roszak, op. cit. (33), 60.
94 Roszak, op. cit. (33), 27.
95 ‘Self-management, one of the goals of this revolution.’ Feenberg, op. cit. (51), 39.
96 F. A. Yates, Giordano Bruno and the Hermetic Tradition, Chicago, 1964; idem, The Art of Memory, Chicago, 1966.
97 J. R. Ravetz, Scientific Knowledge and Its Social Problems, Oxford, 1971, 10, 423, 424. My emphasis.
98 Read the fascinating but brief biographical sketch in Shapin's introductory essay to D. S. Greenberg, The Politics of Pure Science, 2nd edn, Chicago, 1999.
99 ‘Donna Haraway argues that the emergence of new approaches owes much to the environmental and feminist movements, and, I would add the contributions of thinkers such as Marcuse and Foucault … It is ironic that the currently dominant social theory of technology seems to have no grasp of the political conditions of its own credibility’. Feenberg, op. cit. (51), 12.
100 Moore, op. cit. (45), 1615–16.
101 Feenberg, op. cit. (51), 6.
102 Note that the processes whereby actors could highlight or downplay the roles of choice were complex and need tracing in detail. Feenberg has given one case study in Commoner vs Ehrlich on population growth.
105 J. Markoff, What the Dormouse Said: How the Sixties Counterculture Shaped the Personal Computer Industry, New York, 2005; F. Turner, From Counterculture to Cyberculture: Stewart Brand, the Whole Earth Network, and the Rise of Digital Utopianism, Chicago, 2006.
106 T. Anton, Bold Science: Seven Scientists Who Are Changing Our World, New York, 2000, 11. I use ‘hagiography’ in its true sense: Anton presents us with ideally good lives.
107 Brick, op. cit. (2), makes contradiction the unifying theme for understanding the long 1960s.
108 M. Wilkins, The Third Man of the Double Helix, Oxford, 2003. Good X-ray pictures were the result of ‘The great community spirit and co-operation in our lab’ (123–4). And elsewhere: ‘Francis and Jim asked me whether I would mind if they started building models again. I found this question horrible. I did not like treating science as a race, and I especially did not like the idea of them racing against me. I was strongly attached to the idea of the scientific community’ (205). My emphases.
109 Kenney, op. cit. (21).
110 Brick, op. cit. (2), 16.
111 I am only being superficially simplistic. A close analysis of the structure of Putnam's argument shows that he argues that the effects of television were pivotal: R. Putnam, Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community, New York, 2000.
112 J. Beckwith, ‘The scientist in opposition in the United States’, in Fuller, op. cit. (10), 225–31.
113 Beckwith, op. cit. (112), 226–7, 228.
114 J. Bronowski, ‘The disestablishment of science’, in Fuller, op. cit. (10), 233–43, 233, 234, 238, 239, 241.
115 Y. Ezrahi, The Descent of Icarus: Science and the Transformation of Contemporary Democracy, Cambridge, MA, 1990.
116 BSSRS Newsheet, 1971, 10. The Newssheet was turned later into the journal Science for People. For comment on Science for People and Undercurrents see J. R. Ravetz, ‘Anti-establishment science in some British journals’, in Counter-movements in the Sciences (ed. H. Nowotny and H. Rose), Sociology of the Sciences (1979) 3, 27–37.
117 Jon Beckwith's paper pleased the radicals most, being reportage and reflections on the Berkeley experience. The Roses, too, drew on Kuhn, Marcuse and the Wave Two movements to demolish the ‘myth of neutrality of science’. But it was Young's paper which electrified the conference. S. Rose and H. Rose, ‘The myth of the neutrality of science’, in Fuller, op. cit. (10), 215–24. Beckwith, op. cit. (112). See also J. Beckwith, Making Genes, Making Waves: A Social Activist in Science, Cambridge, MA, 2002.
118 R. M. Young, ‘Evolutionary biology and ideology: then and now’, in Fuller, op. cit. (10), 199–213, 201, 203, 211.
119 S. Schaffer, paper for STS Workshop, Cambridge HPS, 2 March 2006.
121 This editorial was a direct response to a letter published in the same issue from Jim Shapiro, Larry Eron and Jon Beckwith.
122 Etzioni and Nunn, op. cit. (19); Nunn, op. cit. (26).
123 Etzioni and Nunn, op. cit. (19); original emphasis. The older, the less educated, and, in the United States, the further south you were, the less confidence in science you had.
124 Brick, op. cit. (2), 9.
127 Including a ‘Guerrilla’ and ‘alternative Operational Reseach’: ‘the current techniques of OR can be turned to the use of sections of the community threatened by the OR currently used by the dominant forces … One can speculate on the development of an OR that doesn't view people in a quantifiable abstracted form’. C. Thunhurst, ‘Radical OR?’, Science for People (1974), 25, 10–11. An Institute of Critical Operational Research was planned – and a journal, OR?gasm.
128 Hollinger, op. cit. (8), 99–110.
129 Brick, op. cit. (2), 23.
130 Mendelsohn notes the immediate, local context of Eisenhower's speech: Eisenhower had been hoping for a nuclear test-ban treaty but had been thwarted by manoeuvres by ‘newly powerful scientists (Edward Teller is the obvious figure) … aided by friends in the military’. Mendelsohn, op. cit. (1), 156.
131 Both Mendelsohn and Ravetz tot up a record of some successes (environmental regulation, women's ‘self-health’ movements, alternative medicines) but more failures (the withering of the societies for social responsibility in science, alternative technology).
132 Indeed, the Smithsonian Institution housed a Center for Short-lived Phenomena – a Wave Three entity – which collected and compared data on short-lived phenomena (earthquakes, oil spills, sudden declines in puffin populations, infestations of vermin). It produced a few permanent records, such as The Pulse of the Planet (1972), before disappearing. The Center for Short-lived Phenomena was itself a short-lived phenomenon.
133 Jamison and Eyerman, op. cit. (48).
134 Rose and Rose, op. cit. (92).
135 Note Talcott Parsons's observations on the creation of ‘networks of solidarity on much more highly universalistic bases than kinship’ discussed in Brick, op. cit. (2), 118. P. Galison, ‘War against the center’, Grey Room (2001), 4, 5–33.
136 Cf. M. J. Piore and C. F. Sabel, The Second Industrial Divide: Possibilities for Prosperity, New York, 1984.
137 Cf. S. B. Ruzek, The Women's Health Movement: Feminist Alternatives to Medical Control, New York, 1978.
138 The term is, of course, Lenin's but was recalled recently in D. Yergin and J. Stanislaw, The Commanding Heights: The Battle between Government and the Marketplace that Is Remaking the Modern World, New York, 1998, unsatisfying because it presents a Keynesian history of the transition from Keynes to Hayek (a few wise heads belatedly chose Hayek), whereas what is needed is a truly Hayekian history of the transition from Keynes to Hayek (that is to say, history which is the product of many, in which the wise choices of the few do not guide history).
139 Furthermore, they were crises in reproduction of forms, such as the hierarchical corporation, or the modern university, that stabilized in the late nineteenth century. The long 1960s, of course, have also been seen as a crisis in Enlightenment forms.
140 C. G. Brown, The Death of Christian Britain: Understanding Secularisation, 1800–2000, London, 2001.
141 Etzioni and Nunn, op. cit. (19).
142 The literature on Western individualism is itself vast in scope. See T. C. Heller et al. (eds.), Reconstructing Individualism: Autonomy, Individuality, and the Self in Western Thought, Stanford, 1986. R. N. Bellah et al., Habits of the Heart: Individualism and Commitment in American Life, Berkeley, 1985. And, lest we forget, F. Hayek, Individualism and Economic Order, London, 1949.
143 B. Burnett, ‘Locating historical understanding of Japanese and Western resistance in education’, paper at AARE 2004 conference, Melbourne.