The ways in which the sciences have been delineated and categorized throughout history provide insights into the formation, stabilization, and establishment of scientific systems of knowledge. The Dresdener school’s approach for explaining and categorizing the genesis of the engineering disciplines is still valid, but needs to be complemented by further-reaching methodological and theoretical reflections. Pierre Bourdieu’s theory of social practice is applied to the question of how individual agents succeed in influencing decisively a discipline’s changing object orientation, institutionalisation and self-reproduction. Through the accumulation of social, cultural and economic capital, they succeed in realising their own organisational ideas and scientific programs. Key concepts for the analysis include the struggle for power and resources, monopolies of interpretation, and the degree of autonomy. A case study from the Aachener Technische Hochschule shows that the consolidation of ferrous metallurgy can be conceived as a symbolical struggle between Fritz Wüst, professor for ferrous metallurgy, and the German Iron and Steel Institute, leading to a construction of a system of differences in which scientists accepted being scientists rather than entrepreneurs, and entrepreneurs accepted becoming
entrepreneurs and renounced science.
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