Brandt School Universität Erfurt

Focal Area: Fundamentals of Public Policy

The Focal Area on the ‘Fundamentals of Public Policy’ seeks to explore the basic concepts and perspectives which make up the field of public policy. Drawing on relevant social science and (some) humanities disciplines, it aims to reconstruct a systematic methodology for public policy as field at the interface between theory and practice, academia and activism.

Theme A: Methodological Foundations of Applied Social Sciences

Under the thematic heading of ‘Methodological Foundations of Applied Social Sciences’, a number of projects revisit the key debates on social science methodology, from the latter’s inception and methodological differentiation as of the nineteenth century to the postmodern turn. The aim is to reach to the inter-disciplinary bottom of the field and construct an integrated methodology and  distinctive vocabulary apt to provide a basis for the understanding of and engagement in the public political sphere.

Theme C: The New Public Policy Environment – Knowledge Networks and E-Governance

Today’s policy environment is marked by seemingly unbounded complexity: the organizational setup of the modern nation state has become diluted through globalization, the policy-making process is shared between governments and different types of non-state actors, the public-private divide is increasingly hazy, and rationalities and functional logics have become culturally contingent. In sum, the two fundamental categories of public policy, namely knowledge and action have dramatically shifted their meaning in recent years. A conceptual paradigm-change is under way which calls for a rethink of the basic categories and concepts of the public policy arena. Among the most discussed new phenomena are knowledge networks which re-define knowledge as a dynamic process of horizontal integration of disparate inputs, and e-governance, which re-conceives public action in the information society. This thematic focus seeks to explore the ontological and epistemological foundations of this environment, with a view to contribute to the development of a plausible and applicable vocabulary for contemporary public policy.

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