Studying the Changing Orders of Political Expertise in Germany, Great Britain and the US (SCOPE)


The role of science and expertise in society is changing. While the political demand for sound science and evidence has never been higher, experts are confronted with scepticism and claims for public participation. Both tendencies can currently be observed, the scientization of politics and the politicization of science.

Focusing on welfare reforms and food safety, this international research project analyses the causes and consequences of changing science-policy relations in Great Britain, Germany, and the US since the mid-90s.

By turning to the concept of knowledge orders, we move away from a priori assumptions about the effectiveness or functionality of public policy advice. Instead, we ask how certain modes of expertise and practices of public knowledge production come to be perceived as reliable and how in a given society such knowledge claims are used as a basis for justifying collective choices. How are the production, circulation and objectification of publicly relevant knowledge influenced by different knowledge cultures? How do countries and policy fields vary in terms of expert styles, public accountability, cultures of objectivity, practices of participation and politico-administrative traditions?

The aim of our project is to uncover cross-national transformations in the relationship between epistemic and political authority. Moreover, consequences in terms of responsibility and responsiveness of science in society are explored.

Our research is funded by the Volkswagen Foundation’s initiative “Science, the Public, and Society”. We are closely cooperating with colleagues from the Humboldt-University Berlin, the University of Bamberg, the University of Darmstadt, the University of Sussex (SPRU), the University of Twente (StePS), Rutgers University (Department of Political Science), and the Harvard Kennedy School of Government (STS Program).

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Selected Publications

Straßheim, Holger/Jung, Arlena/Korinek, Rebecca-Lea (2014): „Reframing Expertise: The Rise of Behavioural Insights and Interventions in Public Policy“. In: Berthoin Antal, Ariane/Hutter, Michael/Stark, David (Hg.): Moments of Valuation. Exploring Sites of Dissonance. Oxford: Oxford University Press (forthcoming).

Straßheim, Holger/Kettunen, Pekka (2014): „When does evidence-based policy turn into policy-based evidence? Configurations, contexts and mechanisms. In: Evidence & Policy 10(2), pp. 259277.

Jung, Arlena/Korinek, Rebecca-Lea/Straßheim, Holger (2014): „Embedded expertise: a conceptual framework for reconstructing knowledge orders, their transformation and local specificities“. In: Innovation: The European Journal of Social Sciences. DOI: 10.1080/13511610.2014.892425.

Jung, Arlena (2013): Fiktion, überholte Kategorie oder unabänderliche Tatsache? Die ontologische Beschaffenheit der Grenze der Wissenschaft und die Implikationen für die Beobachtung von Wandel“. In: Zeitschrift für Theoretische Soziologie 2(2), pp. 269–297.

Straßheim, Holger (2013): „Politische Expertise im Wandel: Zur diskursiven und institutionellen Einbettung epistemischer Autorität“. In: Kropp, Sabine/Kuhlmann, Sabine (Hg.): Wissen und Expertise in Politik und Verwaltung (der moderne staat, Special Issue 1). Opladen: Budrich, pp. 65–86.