In the winter of 2022, Zak Reimer talked with Hans Blokland about some core ideas behind Social Science Works and its projects: democracy, deliberation, populism, radicalization, discrimination, usable knowledge, among other things. By introducing short series discussing one or two issues, rather than long elaborate conversations, we hope to give you more insight, information or even inspiration to reflect on important social-political theories, methods and problems that SSW deals with. 

Episode 1, Parts 1 to 3

In the first podcast (Episode 1; Part 1/1) we introduce you to our hosts of the podcasts and the founding ideas of Social Science Works. Founder of SSW, Hans Blokland, and fellow Zak Reimer, talk about the meaning and goals of SSW. How do we apply social-political theories to the real world, and put it to action? How can we find new ways for meaningful political participation of citizens? How can we counter trends of populism and radicalization? How do we define democracy and how is deliberation linked to this? 

In Part 2 of Episode 1 we continue to dive into the importance of the concept deliberation. Deliberation is an important tool, or even feeling, that enables members of a community to discuss why current political situations are silencing society? How can we use deliberation and how is it effective for society? At SSW we have learned that through moderating a discussion, and providing a space for deliberation, we touch upon multiple issues simultaneously.

In Part 3 of Episode 1 we address pluralism. Pluralism is a key factor for deliberation. However, there are many forms of pluralism. Political pluralism and ethical pluralism go hand in hand, but are still distinctively different. What types of pluralism have an effect on deliberation, and with that on building a civil society?

Episode 2, Parts 1 to 3

This episode of the Social Science Works Podcast focuses on the aims of deliberation. It is separated into three parts for convenient listening. In part one, Hans and Zak discuss how deliberation can be used to help a group of people identify and understand their preferences, identify or address a problem in a community, make a decision, and learn how to be comfortable around difference and diversity. 

In part two, they try to put these ideas into context by sharing a few examples. We talk about how it can sometimes be difficult to recruit participants and briefly touch on the role that populism plays. We also discuss deliberation in the context of voting and politics. In this part, we also identify the problem that many traditional gathering places (e.g. churches, unions, social clubs) are struggling and what effect that has on social cohesion. 

Finally, we explore several ideas in part three including deliberation in schools, how social media has affected our communities and social cohesion, and our most important point of the episode, that deliberation is fun!