Article ID: CBB168492556

Images of Objective Knowledge Construction in Sexual Selection Chapters of Evolution Textbooks (2018)


Textbooks provide a rich site within which to investigate how members of a scientific discipline choose to represent their research to general audiences. We used critical contextual empiricism as a framework for interrogating how a scientific community is depicted via images in evolution textbook chapters on sexual selection. Textbooks that exhibit science within the tenets of critical contextual empiricism will depict uptake of disciplinary change and acknowledge the inseparability of the social and rational aspects of scientific knowledge construction. Sexual selection is an exemplary arena for this work because the field has undergone substantial change in the past few decades that has been driven by critique from within and among disciplines. We used quantitative methods and content analysis to examine images from the textbook editions and from a time series of editions to examine the portrayal of updated understandings of sexual selection. We found that most textbook images did not reflect the shift happening in the scientific community. Images highlighted primarily the classic view of sexual selection focused on males. Examples typical of a more realistic, complicated understanding received little attention even though the scientific literature on these topics appeared decades before these textbooks were published. Images of males were more common than images of females, females were depicted for fewer concepts than males, and images of males and females reinforced stereotypical sex roles. This study highlights an opportunity for acknowledging the inseparability of the social and the rational in scientific knowledge construction.

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Authors & Contributors
Eric Scott Swanson
Sagal, Anna Katerina
Kjeldsen, Tinne Hoff
Lisbeth Fajstrup
Oswald, Nicola M. R.
Ede, Andrew
Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences
Science and Education
Osiris: A Research Journal Devoted to the History of Science and Its Cultural Influences
Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences
Journal of British Studies
Isis: International Review Devoted to the History of Science and Its Cultural Influences
University of Chicago Press
Springer International Publishing
University of Virginia Press
University of Toronto Press
Stanford University Press
Science and society
Science and gender
Women in science
Science and culture
Boyle, Robert
Pauling, Linus Carl
Tipper, John
Shapin, Steven B.
Scopes, John Thomas
Ardinghelli, Maria Angela
Time Periods
20th century, early
20th century, late
19th century
18th century
17th century
United States
Naples (Italy)
Norwegian Institute of Technology (Norges tekniske høgskole)

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