Monthly Archives: November 2016

Being Scientist Is a Vocation or Profession: Scientist’s Social Role

Laboratory Experiment

Judging by the headlines in the media, we can inadvertently think that science is a conveyor for the production of dubious theories about the benefit (or harm) of coffee. The views of scientists change from day to day. People like to joke that the headlines dedicated to health and science are constantly changing: today, the coffee is good for health, and tomorrow – it is not. However, the scientific process works in the following way: the results are reviewed and new hypotheses or data are constructed. So, we should treat new research reports with skepticism, but at the same time, remain open to the changes in the course of science.

Science is a special kind of activity which has its unique characteristics. This activity aims at acquiring and developing knowledge of the world, which requires a total involvement in the subject of research.

An Escapist or a Manager

In the current situation, the scholar should combine two social roles. To carry out the research, they must be “escapists”: they need to escape from the world for the sake of research. If you want to escape from this world, we recommend you to read an article how to travel around the world. However, not only should the scientist make a report on his/her scientific work, but also be clear in his/her research plans, as well as to substantiate the fundamental usefulness of the work.

He/she should become a “manager” of these projects. These two roles can be combined in various ways. We are speaking not about social roles in a strictly sociological sense of the term, but the degree of scientist’s involvement into the socio-political processes. The researcher must be aware of the society’s demand for his work and the results of this work, as well as for the methods of scientific research and its results.

In the search for mutual understanding, different ways of overcoming the existing “gap” are developed. As the two extreme poles, we suggest considering the scientist as an “escapist” and as a “manager.” One of the main issues that we want to put in the connection with this topic is the following one – how to combine creative freedom of the scientist and socio-political requests.

Is the Science a Vocation or a Profession?

The profession of “scientist” has not always been a profession in the strict sense of this word. For a long time, the pursuit of science has played the role of a leisure activity. A turn to the technocratic society and classical science, which we have in modern times, has changed the attitude to the status of scientific studies.

For many centuries of human history, it was related either to the sphere of the sacred and mystical (holders of knowledge were shamans, mages, priests, monks, alchemists, etc.) or to the area of idle curiosity. We can recall the Aristotelian statement that the philosophy takes its roots from wonder: he noted that science is born in the same way.

The source of knowledge is inherently not a social or political inquiry, or a desire to satisfy curiosity about particular mysteries of nature. Following curiosity, scientists immerses themselves in a special world, different from the world of everyday knowledge, and thus become escapists. By escapism we mean not giving up social activities and avoiding the world of everyday life full of different problems, but the fact that this world of research may be considered more important than the topical problems of the society.


Company of Scientists

We should also make it clear that when we talk about escapism of the scientist, we are talking about its two levels. The most obvious social escapism is removal from the public life for the sake of scientific creativity. This escapism of the scientist, who consciously or unconsciously ignores the conventions of social life, aims at the discovery. For a secondary social status and connections, which are not related to social value of scientist’s work, ethical aspects of scientific work are excluded from the system of coordinates.

Scientist’s only interest is to satisfy their own scientific curiosity by solving various issues, and they do not think whether this research is important, useful or harmful to the society or whether they will be rewarded. At the same time, the scientist, as a rule, suggests that his research still has benefits because comprehension of a new knowledge can be useful as well.


Almost every researcher who is involved in planning his discovery, is the manager.

Therefore, when we talk about a social role of the scientist as a manager in the sphere of science, it is necessary to separate the two types of such managers. The first one is a scientist-manager with a significant post in the scientific organization, department, etc. That type of scientist-administrator can be the director/rector or the Minister of Science. In spite of their employment, they continue to conduct scientific work.

The second type is the scientist who is a manager of his or her scientific research under the conditions of changing surrounding, socio-political conditions, and circumstances. The appearance of such scientists- managers also often contributes to management activities. It can be, for example, management of the large projects, establishment of a new laboratory, development of negotiation skill – anything that forces the scientist to go beyond their direct functions. As a result, the researcher becomes a manager who aims at promoting the results of their intellectual work.


We have analyzed which role a full immersion in the creative process plays in the scholar activities. Combining the two sides is quite difficult. Actually, very few people can successfully combine these two aspects: some tend to be “escapists” and others to be “managers”, depending on what tasks they are best at.