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L’opération archéologique. Sociologie historique d’une discipline aux prises avec l’automatique et les mathématiques. France, Espagne, Italie, 2e moitié du XXe siècle

Abstract : During the second half of the twentieth century, attempts at operational redefinitions of social activities increased, relying on the scientific and technical innovations developed during the Second World War and then strengthened by the generalization of automation. Scrutinizing the particular case of archaeology, this research addresses these attempts from an historical sociology perspective. During that period, archaeology showed an increasing process of disciplinarization and professionalization. The same happened for applied mathematics and then computer science: this study is precisely about the relationships between these three fields. At their intersection, methodological and conceptual innovations notably increased in France during the 1950's and 1960's. However, their scientific reception was relatively low afterwards. In this case, innovations related to applied mathematics and automatics did not led to the emergence of an archaeological specialty based on computation. Such a situation shows a striking contrast with what happened in other scientific disciplines or in archaeology in other countries, whereas the theoretical and methodological propositions of the “New Archaeology” trend spread worldwide. Three collective attempts to redefine the conceptual and methodological basis of archaeology are explored, respectively led by Georges Laplace, Jean-Claude Gardin and Jean Lesage, concerning both France, Spain and Italy. These main cases are supplemented by those of a set of actors who articulated both a career in engineering and in archaeology. Generally speaking, this study tackles the cognitive and social aspects of methodological contributions in the scientific activities. Three models of relationships between experts in formal methods and experts in the application domain are empirically identified and described. Effects of the introduction of mathematics and automated procedures on the division of labor and the distribution of recognition are analyzed. The success or failure of the reception of those methodological propositions are discussed with reference to several factors and models of scientific innovation. This work leads us to shade new light both on the roots and growth of rescue archaeology and on the use of digital technologies in human sciences. This study draws on 82 interviews, 23 archives and several bibliometric dataset (extracted from pre-existing databases of constructed for the purpose of this research). Mirroring the archaeological propositions under study, this research is also intended to illustrate a possible use of computing and formalized procedures in social sciences. The documentation and demonstrative principles underlying this work, implemented by using a Wiki and the methods of literate programming and reproducible research, are themselves analyzed.
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Contributor : Sébastien Plutniak <>
Submitted on : Thursday, November 12, 2020 - 11:35:01 AM
Last modification on : Tuesday, June 15, 2021 - 2:52:03 PM


  • HAL Id : tel-03001164, version 1



Sébastien Plutniak. L’opération archéologique. Sociologie historique d’une discipline aux prises avec l’automatique et les mathématiques. France, Espagne, Italie, 2e moitié du XXe siècle. Sociologie. École des hautes études en sciences sociales; EHESS, 2017. Français. ⟨NNT : 2017EHES0045⟩. ⟨tel-03001164⟩



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