The Academic Background of Social Science - Social Science Works

Creating Useable Knowledge for ... The Academic Background of Social ...... regulation during the neoliberal eighties and nineties is an illustration (Blokland.
948KB Sizes 13 Downloads 164 Views
Creating Useable Knowledge for Tomorrow’s Democratic Societies: The Academic Background of Social Science Works Hans Blokland

Potsdam, May 2015

1

Contents Introduction ............................................................................................................................ 3 1 Hopes, expectations, and assumptions regarding a political science .................................. 4 2 Doubts and worries in the sixties ......................................................................................... 5 3 Hyper fragmentation and specialization, scholasticism and irrelevancy ............................. 6 4 Ontological assumptions and social pressures .................................................................... 7 5 Some reform proposals for political science ........................................................................ 8 6 Growing social inequalities, diminishing democracies ...................................................... 10 7 The increasing demand and supply of research ................................................................ 11 8 The vacuum left by the academy ....................................................................................... 14 9 Public Sociology .................................................................................................................. 15 9.1 Herbert Gans and human liberation ........................................................................... 16 9.2 A ‘thrilling’ presidential address of Michael Burawoy ................................................ 17 9.3 Recommendations of the Task Force on Institutionalizing Public Sociologies ........... 19 9.4 Some practical considerations regarding doing public sociology ............................... 21 10 How ‘scientific’ is professional sociology? ....................................................................... 23 11 Socializing and socialization in academic disciplines ....................................................... 26 12 Conclusions ...................................................................................................................... 31 Literature............................................................................................................................... 34

2

Introduction According to many critics (Lindblom 1990, Shapiro 2002, Lawrence and Skocpol 2006, Flyvbjerg 2001, Scott 2007, Burawoy 2005, Patterson 2014, Sayer 2011) the search for context-independent laws and theories within social and political science has predominantly created hyper-professionalized, hyper-fragmented, scholastic, method- and theory-driven disciplines that are hardly of relevance for those who struggle with concrete social and political problems. At the same time, modernizing societies show an ever increasing demand for all kinds of research, meant to inform and justify policies that organize and capture more and more spheres of life. To a decreasing extent this research has been supplied by the social and political sciences. This despite the fact that an important motivation behind the endeavor to become more ‘scientific’ was to contribute to rational, ‘evidence-based’ social interventions. The role of other actors, traditionally already big, has grown: governmental agencies, quasi non-governmental organizations (Quangos), corporations, interest and advocacy groups, political parties, think tanks, and private research and consultancy institutions. In societies with big, still growing social, political and economic inequalities, the research produced by these actors is often biased in favor of the interests and values of privileged groups. Besides, this research primarily reflects and strengthens the functional rationalities that are dominant in our societies. A leading theme in the evaluations of the strengths and weaknesses of social science and in the suggestions for change is its ability to question commonly accepted ideas and perspectives and to indicate alternatives. Social s