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Man weiß es nicht genau: Vom Nutzen der Sozialwissenschaften für die Politik


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  • Streeck, Wolfgang
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    Das Papier ist die erweiterte Fassung eines Beitrags zu einer Ringvorlesung über 'Wissenschaftliche Politikberatung an der Universität Göttingen im Sommersemester 2009. Es untersucht, was speziell die Sozialwissenschaften zur Beratung der Politik beitragen können. Nomothetische Theorien, die unter Wissenschaftlern oft als höchstes Ziel der Forschung gelten und das größte Prestige versprechen, scheinen für die politische Praxis am wenigsten nützlich. Erklärungen vergangener Ereignisse sind für die Politik in der Regel nicht interessant; Vorhersagen sind in den Sozialwissenschaften kaum möglich; und der technische Einsatz sozialwissenschaftlicher Theorien zur Veränderung sozialen Verhaltens oder sozialer Verhältnisse ist und bleibt eine Utopie. Die deskriptive Erfassung der sozialen Realität durch Zählen, Messen und Beobachten kann dagegen von erheblichem gesellschaftlichem Nutzen sein. Und obwohl sozialwissenschaftliche Forschung niemals die Intuition des erfahrenen Praktikers ersetzen oder dem Politiker die Last verantwortlicher Entscheidungen unter Risiko abnehmen kann, kann sie ihm helfen, die Erfahrungen der Vergangenheit und die Möglichkeiten der Zukunft besser zu überschauen und sich von in der Gegenwart mächtigen Mythen über das, was tatsächlich, möglich und unmöglich ist, frei zu machen. Schließlich können die Sozialwissenschaften, diesmal auch und vor allem ihre stärker theoretischen Ausprägungen, auch längerfristig die politische Praxis beeinflussen, indem ihre scheinbar nur akademischen Diskussionen die kulturelle Selbstbeschreibung der Gesellschaft und mit ihr das Weltverständnis künftiger Generationen von Wählern und Entscheidungsträgern in nicht zu unterschätzender Weise prägen. -- Based on a talk presented at the University of Göttingen in a lecture series on the use of scientific advice for public policy, the paper discusses what the social sciences in particular can contribute to policy-making. Nomothetic theories, which scholars often believe to be the highest achievement of their disciplines and which contribute most to a scholar's reputation, seem to be least useful for policy. Explanations of past events are usually not of interest to policy-makers; predictions are hardly possible in the social world; and the technical application of social theories to influence social behavior or change social conditions ('social engineering') is and remains by and large utopian. By comparison, descriptions of social reality by counting, measuring and observing social facts can be of considerable political use. Furthermore, while social science will never be able to replace the intuition of the experienced practitioner or relieve him of having to make responsible decisions under high uncertainty, it can help him to understand better the experiences of the past and the possibilities of the future and free himself at present from powerful myths as to what is the case, what is possible, and what is impossible. Finally, the social sciences, this time including their more theoretically oriented branches, may exercise a powerful long-term influence on policy since their debates, although they may sometimes appear merely academic, may shape the cultural self-description of society, and with it the basic ideas informing the actions of future generations of voters and decision-makers.

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    Paper provided by Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies in its series MPIfG Working Paper with number 09/11.

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    Date of creation: 2009
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    Handle: RePEc:zbw:mpifgw:0911

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    1. Beckert, Jens & Streeck, Wolfgang, 2008. "Economic sociology and political economy: A programmatic perspective," MPIfG Working Paper 08/4, Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies.
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