Social scientists often use the metaphor of evolution to describe various kinds of transformation processes, e.g. economic. In this context political scientists have shown that newly emerging policy subsystems have a different structure to those that have been around for longer (see Michael Noweski, “Ausreifung von Poltikfeldern – Metapher oder Theorie?” WZB Discussion Paper SPI 2008-304 (> PDF), in German only). This can be seen very clearly in the case of health primary prevention. The expanding network features numerous new players, some of whom are largely unknown. Its structure is complex, polycentric and heterarchic. There is still little consensus about how tasks should be divided up among the participants. The involvement of the state as a regulatory instance is controversial.

The research project will make a contribution to the development of the political science theory of maturing by documenting the evolution of primary prevention in Germany. Proceeding from the thesis that consolidated policy fields are in many respects able to achieve more performance, the findings will also provide indications about how the output of the network can be improved by promoting the evolutionary process.