nep-sog New Economics Papers
on Sociology of Economics
Issue of 2008‒11‒04
one paper chosen by
Jonas Holmström
Swedish School of Economics and Business Administration

  1. Letters and Scientific Communities By Metiu, Anca; Fayard, Anne-Laure

  1. By: Metiu, Anca (ESSEC Business School); Fayard, Anne-Laure (Polytechnic Institute of New York University)
    Abstract: We enter the debate about the possibility of collaboration and of rich exchanges among physically distant individuals by offering a literacy perspective on communication to show how the dimensions of writing enable the development of scientific communities. We illustrate this perspective with an analysis of the correspondences of one philosopher and one scientist – Descartes and Emilie du Chatelet, as well as with a description of one of the most prominent communities of scientists and philosophers in Europe, the Republic of Letters. Our findings show that writing is essential for the expression and exchange of ideas, abstractions, complex thoughts, demonstrations, arguments – in sum, for the entire scientific enterprise. We discuss the implications of the literacy perspective and of our findings for the current understanding of online intellectual communities.
    Keywords: Orality and Literacy; Scientific Communities; Online Communities; Letters; Organizational Communication
    JEL: Z13
    Date: 2008–10

This nep-sog issue is ©2008 by Jonas Holmström. It is provided as is without any express or implied warranty. It may be freely redistributed in whole or in part for any purpose. If distributed in part, please include this notice.
General information on the NEP project can be found at For comments please write to the director of NEP, Marco Novarese at <>. Put “NEP” in the subject, otherwise your mail may be rejected.
NEP’s infrastructure is sponsored by the School of Economics and Finance of Massey University in New Zealand.