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Discussion paper

Description

There are various attempts to circumscribe and catch the meaning of “impact” related to and resulting from scholarly research from the social sciences and humanities. For all their commendable efforts, these definitions cannot remove the impression that the initial need to come up with a definition is driven by political motives. As a result, the use of the term “impact” has often acquired a defensive tone. The political motives spring largely from increasing demands for accountability; and the defensiveness can be detected in the way “impact” is set up to prove the relevance to society. We argue that time has come to move beyond a purely defensive stance on the part of the social sciences and humanities. There is a more substantial issue involved, namely, to re-think the transformative relationship between science and society. Scientific research is about transformation – how to enable it, or how to avoid it. It is about the transformation that society is undergoing as much as about the transformative power inherent in knowledge and policies based on social science knowledge. The social sciences and humanities are deeply involved in the processes that use scientific and scholarly approaches to bring about a better society, difficult as it may be to define it. Arguably, their societal and political relevance has always been more present in the political arena than that of the natural sciences. This should be acknowledged and not denied.

Publication Details
Language: 
English
License Type: 
CC BY-NC
Published year only: 
2018
6
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