Social Science Works develops policy projects aimed at alleviating pressing societal problems and making use of available interdisciplinary insights from the social and political sciences.

In pursuit of this, Social Science Works looks for innovative solutions to problems old and new. Groups of policymakers and researchers sometimes fall victim of bias, short-sightedness or group think. The psychological phenomenon of group think occurs when group members increasingly draw on each other’s ideas and progressively come to reaffirm and to strengthen each other’s vision of a problem or of reality. As such, there is less and less room for alternative standpoints and perceptions, for alternative definitions of problems and possible solutions, and for observations that do not fit within the supposed boundaries of the problem. To prevent this, as Charles Lindblom (1990) refers to it, “impairment”, it is expedient to ask relative outsiders to address these issues. The diversity of disciplines, paradigms and nationalities of our people makes Social Science Works a perfect partner for fresh examination of pressing social problems.


Projects in 2016


In 2016, we completed three projects centering on the use of deliberative methodology to support integration. These projects covered themes like migration, integration, populism, radicalization, democracy and civil society. For an overview of our deliberatieve approach and experiences see our position paper “How to deliberate fundamental values?”.


Understanding Europe

Deliberative workshops in Potsdam, German. October 2016.

Deliberative workshops in Potsdam, Germany. October 2016.

One project, financed by the Integrationsbeauftragte des Landes Brandenburg, the Gleichstellungsbeauftragte des Landes Brandenburg and the Brandenburgische Landeszentrale für politische Bildung, was completed in the winter of 2016. In this pilot project we organized three series of six workshops with three groups of young, unaccompanied refugee men. In these workshops we critically deliberated values, ideas, and perspectives that many consider defining for the European cultural tradition and identity, and that some feel endangered by refugees from other cultures (and particularly Islamic backgrounds), with refugees. Topics include: ethical, cultural and political pluralism, humanism, democracy, tolerance, freedom of religion, organization and expression, gender, sexual equality, (homo)sexuality, and the mutual fears of migrants and locals. In total we worked with around 45 young refugee men over the course of our three groups.

The young men that participated in this project were also offered the opportunity to be paired with ‘buddies’ (somewhat older German or German-speaking men) for a period of six months to help strengthen their integration into German society. This project was financed by the Brandenburgische Landeszentrale für politische Bildung. This is a best practice research project, and will be subject to extensive evaluation following the completion of the workshops. For a summary of the project, click here. The whole project-description is available on request.


Stakeholder Training in Deliberative Methods

Stakeholder workshops in Berlin, Germany. November 2016.

Stakeholder workshops in Berlin, Germany. November 2016.

In another project, financed by the Bundesamt für Migration und Flüchtlinge  we held two series of workshops with two groups of  professionals and volunteers working in migration and integration. In these workshops we explained and illustrated the ideas and methods of deliberation. In total we worked with around 30 stakeholders over the course of the workshops. In addition, we discuss and deliberate values, viewpoints and perceptions considered important for integration. Accordingly, we learn about deliberation by discussing essential topics like freedom, tolerance and gender equality. Our aim was to reduce uncertainty among European citizens with respect to the articulation and justification of core social values, both European and Universal. These ambiguities and uncertainties cause vague, confused messages to newcomers and hinder their integration. For a summary of the project, click here.


Projects in 2017

In 2017 too we develop and implement deliberative democracy and integration projects. We do not only work with refugees and people, volunteers and professionals, active in the sphere of integration, but also with natives feeling misrepresented by the current political system.


Deliberation against Populism

Freedom-of-Speech_5_6_web-300x383A first project, “Deliberation against Populism”, has been made possible by Bündnis für Brandenburg. In collaboration with four students of the Alice Salomon Hochschule Berlin we will organize two deliberative events with in total 20 citizens from Brandenburg to discuss the problems that these citizens bother or trouble. Important goal of the project is to find new ways to get into contact with citizens that see themselves as political alienated or unrepresented, and to engage them again in the democratic discourse. We will search for our participants on social media and invite them personally to deliberate for one or two days with a group of other worried citizens. We offer each group the assistance to formulate a position paper which can be published, among others, on our website, and can be presented to political representatives. For a summary of the project, click here.


Deliberation in Brandenburg

In this project we build on the experiences we made in 2016 with deliberative workshops for different groups of young refugees. We double the number of groups to six and do not just work with young men that most of the time came unaccompanied to Germany, but also with women, people of different ages, and with mixed groups of men and women, and new and native citizens. Obviously, in open pluralist societies where people with very different orientations have to live together, and often also want to live together, workshops where the participants reflect this diversity are ideal.

In the workshops we discuss, among others, ethical and political pluralism, democracy, civic society, freedom (of expression, association and religion), personal autonomy and emancipation, tolerance, human rights, racism, identity, socialization, masculinity, femininity, sex equality, and homosexuality.

In total we will meet each group for about 15 hours. Each group consists of 15 people. We meet on several occasions, during the day, in the evening, during holidays or over weekends. The workshops will take place in, among others, Babelsberg, Potsdam, Caputh, Bad Belzig and Strausberg.

The project has been made possible by the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports of the State of Brandenburg (Ministerium für Bildung, Jugend und Sport des Landes Brandenburg) and the Commissioner for Integration of the state of Brandenburg (Integrationsbeauftragte des Landes Brandenburg).

Click here for a detailed overview of the project.


Stakeholder Training in Deliberative Methods

As in 2016, we organize series of workshops for professionals and volunteers working in migration and integration. In these workshops we explain and illustrate the ideas and methods of deliberation. This project has been made possible again by the Bundesamt für Migration und Flüchtlinge. The number of workshops have been importantly scaled up: in 2017, we organize in total six rows of workshops in Brandenburg, Berlin, Sachsen and Nordrhein-Westfalen. For details of the workshop that took place in Potsdam, click here.