The role of the amateur in science
This thesis is primarily an empirical investigation into the current role of the amateur scientist in the United Kingdom. The local and national organisations of amateur science are explored by means of questionnaire and interview surveys. In order to place the modern amateur in perspective, sections on the history and sociology of professions precede an examination of the professionalisation of science. For the local organisation of amateurs, the surveys concentrate on Leicester, placing amateur science in its relationship to adult education and to the popularisation of science via the mass media. Evidence is presented which suggests that amateurs not only increase their own scientific knowledge, but are active in disseminating information to a wider population. Estimates are made of the number of local amateur scientific societies currently existing in the United Kingdom, as well as of the total number of amateur scientists. Those scientific disciplines and sub-fields that are of particular concern to amateurs are identified. Professional scientific papers are compared with their amateur equivalents in terms of readability, terminology and patterns of citation. The investigation is focussed oh the United Kingdom, but there is a brief examination of amateur activity abroad. Finally, the data permit some evaluative comments about amateur science - its value to the participants, to science and to society.