Projects



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 on Deliberation and Integration in 2016

 

In 2016, we completed two projects centering on the use of deliberative methodology to support integration. These projects covered themes like migration, integration, populism, radicalization, democracy and civil society.

 

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 Migrantion und Flüchtlinge  we held two series of workshops with two groups of  professionals and volunteers working in migration and integration 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.