Experimental Entanglements: Social Science and Neuroscience Beyond Interdisciplinarity

  • Des Fitzgerald
  • Felicity Callard


This chapter is an account of the dynamics of interaction across the social sciences and neurosciences. Against an arid rhetoric of ‘interdisciplinarity’, we call for a more expansive imaginary of what experiment—as practice and ethos—might offer. We oppose existing conceptualizations of dynamics between the social sciences and neurosciences, grouping them under three rubrics: ‘critique’, ‘ebullience’ and ‘interaction’. Despite their differences, each insists on a distinction between sociocultural and neurobiological knowledge. We link this insistence to the ‘regime of the inter-’, an ethic of interdisciplinarity that guides interaction between disciplines on the understanding of their separateness. We argue: (1) that this separation is no longer sustainable and (2) that the cognitive neuroscience experiment offers opportunities for exploring this realization.



The original version of this chapter was completed while DF was funded by an Interacting Minds Centre project on Neuroscientific Evidence, at Aarhus University (Denmark), and by an ESRC (UK) Transformative grant on ‘A New Sociology for a New Century’ (ES/L003074/1). FC’s research when she wrote this chapter was supported by two Wellcome Trust Strategic Awards to Durham University (WT086049 and WT098455MA). Both DF and FC also gratefully acknowledge an award from the Volkswagen Foundation’s Second European Platform for Life Sciences, Mind Sciences and Humanities, which funded a workshop on ‘Experimental Entanglements in Cognitive Neuroscience’. We remain grateful to the Wellcome Trust for enabling us to make this chapter Open Access (and thus permitting its free reprinting here).


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© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Des Fitzgerald
    • 1
  • Felicity Callard
    • 2
  1. 1.Cardiff UniversityCardiffUK
  2. 2.Birkbeck, University of LondonLondonUK

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