This case study investigates a science based debate concerning gender, a debate in which the labels ”fool feminism” versus ”biologism” where frequently used. The debate took off in Swedish newspapers in February 2002, and expanded in the following months to other arenas. This debate is followed through its’ intertextual linkages; from media articles, over e-mails, letters and a web-based debate, to a conference on the theme and, finally, back to articles. This empirical body gives an unique insight into the dynamics of the scientific debate; how the arguments and positions become displaced through the shift of genre.
Different texts are analysed discursively with the emphasis on rhetoric as argumentative practice, aiming at a hegemonic position. The statements generally strive to undermine the position of the opponents, and rhetoric strategies such as irony, citation and the frequent use of contrast structures, work in that direction. While categorizing the other as ignorant, a kind of enlightenment rhetoric is framed. In the report I illuminate how descriptions, through narratives and metaphors concerning what is referred to as “science war”, become tied up with tropes of the “good conversation”, and thereby point at some commonalities between the discursive poles of the debate. It is also argued that unexpected alliances are created in this debate, whereas the poles are not as fixed as they appear to be from the onset.
Sociologiska institutionen , 2004. , 55 p.