, Volume 56, Issue 3, pp 305–331 | Cite as

Institutional Expansion and Scientific Development in the Periphery: The Structural Heterogeneity of Argentina’s Academic Field

  • Fernanda BeigelEmail author
  • Osvaldo Gallardo
  • Fabiana Bekerman


The relationship between “marginal” and “mainstream” science has, in recent decades, become a matter of discussion. Traditional perspectives must be reexamined in the wake of transformations in the international circulation of knowledge and the subsequent diversification of scientific “peripherality”. Argentina represents an interesting case with which to explore the structure of “peripheral centres” and new forms of scientific development. While it has recently experienced an expansion in terms of institutionalization, professionalization, and internationalization, that process has been coupled with entrenchment of existing institutional asymmetries and persistent intra-national inequalities; academic prestige is distributed according to opposite principles of legitimation (local/international). Our main task is to explore the current state of research capacities pursuant to that expansion in order to analyze the diverse styles in which knowledge is produced. In our analysis, we make critical use of Bourdieu’s concept of field and the Latin American category of “structural heterogeneity,” while also focusing on the question of circulation. The paper outlines how professionalization has developed locally over time, and the historical tension between the National Council for Scientific and Technical Research and the public universities. It describes the current structure of the scientific field in terms of researchers, institutes, publishing circuits, and institutional evaluative cultures. It focuses on geographical asymmetries in order to assess the distribution of new human and material resources throughout the country. Finally, it addresses the current situation under the new government, and raises concern over recent regressive actions.


Argentina Scientific expansion Structural heterogeneity Styles of production Circulation of knowledge 



The construction of the databases analysed here was possible thanks to the support of the following funds: (a) PICT 2013-1442 Agencia Nacional de Promoción Cientifica y Tecnológica (Argentina), (b) the European Project INTERCOSSH GA 319974 (7° program of the European Commission) and (c) PIP 2014-0157 CONICET (Argentina). The authors wish to thank the peer reviewers for their relevant observations and Hebe Vessuri for her generous and productive comments to the first version of this paper. Also to Facundo Rojas for his help in building Fig. 7.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Fernanda Beigel
    • 1
    Email author
  • Osvaldo Gallardo
    • 2
  • Fabiana Bekerman
    • 3
  1. 1.INCIHUSA-CONICET (National Council of Scientific and Technical Research) and National University of CuyoMendozaArgentina
  2. 2.IMESC-IDEHESI-CONICET (National Council of Scientific and Technical Research) and National University of CuyoMendozaArgentina
  3. 3.INCIHUSA-CONICET (National Council of Scientific and Technical Research)MendozaArgentina

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