CfP Special Issue: Governing (by) expertise. The politics of social scientific knowledge production


Social sciences’ place is as much in academics as it is with government. Social sciences, such as political sciences, sociology and economics, always aim both at charting and disenchanting the world as well as at projecting desired future societal states and reflexively optimizing governance. In this double role – as academic disciplines and as professions of government – social sciences not only shape prac-tices of governing but are being shaped in this interaction themselves (Abbott 1988; Miller/Rose 2008). While this Janus-faced character isn’t exactly a novelty and has played out differently in specific national contexts (Weber 1988 [1916]; Steinmetz 2016; Chen 2017; Cossu & Bartollini 2017; Moebius 2021; Consolim 2023), recent developments have changed the social sciences’ position at the centre of an increasingly transnational “knowledge warfare” (Kauppi 2018): On the one hand, the output-oriented quantification and projectification of academic meritocracy introduced new ways in which societal and especially governmental requirements have to be taken into account by autonomous so-cial scientific distinctions (Bérard/Crespin 2010; Boulet/Harari-Kermadec 2014; Münch 2014; Anger-mueller/van Leeuwen 2018; Gengnagel et al. 2019; Hamann 2020). On the other hand, new modes of governance increasingly rely on scientific legitimacy and represent an increasing demand for social scientific expertise (Power 2003; Desrosières 2011; Dezalay/Garth 2011; Heilbron et al. 2017, 2018) in national contexts (Bühlmann & Rossier 2018; Connell et all. 2018; Heredia 2018) as well as in transna-tional contexts such as the European Union (Georgakakis/de Lasalle 2012; Cohen 2013; Boncourt/Cal-ligaro 2017; Gengnagel et al. 2022; for the social scientific marginalization of non-Western Area Stud-ies in the globally dominant US, see Stanton 2002; Lie 2012).

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Current Issue

Vol. 7 No. 1-2 (2022): Serendipities. Journal for the Sociology and History of the Social Sciences
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Serendipities is interested in papers on any aspect of a sociological or historical analysis of the development of the social sciences.

A shortcut for what we expect would be a combination of the best of “sociology of” and “social studies of” perspectives on those fields of inquiry which belong to what Wolf Lepenies called the third culture, between science and literature. Paper could either look at the subject from a historical point of view or challenge present day practices of any part of the social sciences. We also welcome contributions applying routines from other disciplines as long as the subject belongs to the social sciences.

Some of the topics that the editors hope to see covered in Serendipities are the development of methodologies and research techniques, the institutionalization processes of disciplines and research directions, the “traveling of ideas” from one scholarly culture to another, the role of funding agencies, and the relation among the social sciences, the state, and social movements.

Finally, the interaction of social science with publics and different kind of clients is a matter of great interest to the journal. From a methodological point of view, we particularly invite submissions that engage with the still underdeveloped field of sociological semantics, prosopography, and advanced quantitative and qualitative approaches to analyze the personnel of the social sciences and their thinking.