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Democratic VistasReflections on the Life of American Democracy$
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Jedediah Purdy, Anthony Kronman, and Cynthia Farrar

Print publication date: 2004

Print ISBN-13: 9780300102567

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: October 2013

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300102567.001.0001

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American Democracy and the Origins of the Biomedical Revolution

American Democracy and the Origins of the Biomedical Revolution

(p.236) 12 American Democracy and the Origins of the Biomedical Revolution
Democratic Vistas

Joan A. Steitz

Yale University Press

This chapter examines how American democracy might contribute to the country's status as the world leader in basic scientific research. It compares research in the United States and the Pacific and European countries, where national bureaucracies and autocratic laboratory directors set top-down research agendas. In the United States, by contrast, competitive research funding, allocated by multiple public and private sources according to highly meritocratic criteria, makes bottom-up initiative the core of the research process. The institutional advantages of the United States do not mean that the government stays out of research; instead, by fostering a competitive and merit-based system of funding, federal policy makes research less rather than more top-down. All this chimes with American cultural habits: self-confident dissent and the compulsion to distinguish oneself from the crowd.

Keywords:   scientific research, democracy, research funding, federal policy

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