Dangerous liaisons: On the relation of social sciences and society
This book is about different forms of societal impact of the social sciences. It presents a polemic with a narrow understanding of societal impact of research as practiced by science policy in the Czech Republic (and elsewhere). Inspired by science and technology studies (STS), the book presents a different perspective on societal impact, one that does however not offer a simple defence of the social sciences as relevant and useful. Three basic theses are proposed and argued. 1. Social sciences’ operation in society is multiple and more significant than usually assumed in public and policy debate, and by the academic community. It entails not only intentional and controlled but also unintentional and collateral forms. 2. It can support certain realities and developments of society, and weaken others. Therefore it is political in a wide sense of the word. 3. The social sciences’ operation is not necessarily positive and unproblematic. There is, then, an important issue of public accountability and democratic participation in relation to the creation and uses of social science knowledge which must be experimented with.