I would like to thank Tom Broman, Ellen Herman, members of the University of Michigan History Department non-tenured faculty colloquium, and especially Sheila Jasanoff for their very helpful comments on this article.
Michel Callon, among others, has been examining the role of lay people in scientific debate and the constitution of scientific fact. He has seen this phenomenon as relatively recent in origin. However, in this article it will be clear that contestations by lay people of the “truths” of the human sciences are long standing, reflective, I believe, of their sense of having their own form of expertise in such matters.
Stephen Jay Gould points out that Binet, at numerous times, insisted that intelligence was “not a single, scalable thing like height”, and that the scale was only intended to be used with possibly backward children. Theta H. Wolf and Read D. Tuddenham also emphasize that Binet never committed to viewing intelligence as a single mental faculty, preferring to see what he was measuring as a complex of mental functions expressed in a set of externalized behaviors. Nevertheless, as constructed, the Binet-Simon scale did produce a singular measurement and was designed to be broadly administered.
Indeed, even the convulsive Dreyfus Affair (1898-1899) can be seen as, in part, a struggle between the claims of talent and prerogatives of tradition (Johnson 1966; Mayeur and Rebérioux 1987; Nord 1995).
Schneider makes much this same point (1992:128). A recent example of the French connection between merit and the pyramidal educational system is the current controversy over introducing a form of affirmative action into the selection process for one of the grandes écoles, the Institut d'Etudes Politiques (Sciences Po) (Daley 2001).
For a sample of the large literature on the social/cultural transformations of the late nineteenth century, see Bannister 1979; Bederman 1995; Hawkins 1997; Higham 1970:73-102; 1994; Painter 1987; Wiebe 1967.
On psychological testing and Progressive culture, see Brown 1992; Chapman 1988; Church 1971; Cravens 1978; Karier 1972; Minton 1987; Morawski and Hornstein 1991; Samelson 1979.
For a related approach from the vantage point of biology, see Wiggam 1922.
For a strikingly similar post-World War II argument, see Popper 1950.
It was also in the immediate postwar period that another approach to the psychological, Freudianism, spread widely, especially among the intellectual and upper middle classes in the United States. On this phenomenon, see Buhle 1998; Burnham 1967; 1968; Caplan 1998; Hale 1995.
On the modern American high school, see Angus and Mirel 1999; Cremin 1988; Nasaw 1979; Tyack 1974. On mental testing in the school system, see Chapman 1988; Fass 1980; Resnick 1982; Williams 1986.
However, for a more jaundiced appreciation of mass democracy produced at almost the same time, see Lippmann 1922a.
On publication rates in the popular press about intelligence and its tests, see Hart's analysis of articles indexed in the Reader's Guide to Periodical Literature for the period 1905-1930, Table 3 in Hart 1933.
From this perspective, W. E. B. Du Bois' famous 1903 essay extolling the importance of the “talented tenth” was only one instance among many in which an author more or less took for granted distinctions in individual intelligence, while resoundingly rejecting claims about group inferiority (Du Bois 1903).
As Elizabeth Frazer succinctly put it in an article in the Saturday Evening Post about the new kinds of jobs available for sectors of the working and lower middle classes, “Sheer brawn, youth, quickness no longer count all. It needs something else to get by. And that something is gray matter. Brains” (Frazer 1923:133). On the rise of white-collar work in America, see Chandler 1977; Trachtenberg 1982; Zunz 1990.
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Book title: States of Knowledge: The Co-Production of Science and Social Order.
Contributors: Sheila Jasanoff - Editor.
Place of publication: London.
Publication year: 2004.
Page number: 204.
This material is protected by copyright and, with the exception of fair use, may
not be further copied, distributed or transmitted in any form or by any means.