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Looking at ourselves: an examination of the social organization of two research laboratories

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This paper reports findings from ongoing examinations into the social organization of research laboratories. Two case studies are discussed, and it is suggested that although there are differences between the two sites, commonalities are shown in their hierarchical nature and in the status of researchers. It is argued that researchers form a professional group with all that entails in terms of rights and privileges. More generally it is argued that the social organization of research laboratories is resistant to change. The consequences of this on the testing and development of systems that have the potential to transform hierarchical relations is briefly discussed and how this resistance and its causes differentiate research laboratories from other work places remarked.