Simulated Models and Virtual Worlds: Towards a Sociological Understanding of Simulation Modelling as Scientific Practice

Project leader

Funding source

Swedish Research Council - Vetenskapsrådet (VR)

Project Details

Start date: 01/01/2008
End date: 31/12/2011
Funding: 3312000 SEK


In order to understand contemporary knowledge societies, it is essential to understand science and analyse scientific practice. Scientists used to explore the world through observations and experiments but simulations and simulation models are increasingly used for similar purposes. The research proposed here will study scientific simulation modelling as a social practice. The research will achieve this by reconstructing the collective perspectives that simulation modellers develop in relation to their work. Hence, it will focus on the common problems scientists face in building, developing and using simulation models, and interpreting their results, and how they solve these problems. A theoretical aim is to develop, in dialogue with existing theory, better conceptual tools that can be used to study the role of simulation models in knowledge production and other contexts as well. Ethnographic studies, interviews and observation, will be conducted among Swedish scientists in three disciplines in which simulation modelling is a prominent practice: oceanography, astrophysics, and meteorology. These cases will be analysed on their own merits and then compared, to develop a broader view. In order to position simulation based science among other simulation practices, the results of these studies will also be discussed in relation to other sociological work on the current social impact of computer technology.

Last updated on 2017-31-03 at 12:58