Politikkens videnskabeliggørelse: En undersøgelse af videnskabens mening i det politiske system

Joe Maurice Gottenborg Berge & Lars Lyby

Student thesis: Master thesis


The Scientification of Politics It has become a truism that we are living in a knowledge society. Knowledge has become an ideal which can be used to formulate expectations and demands in a wide range of fields. The subject of this Master’s thesis is the relation between knowledge and politics. The thesis consists of three analytical parts which each takes on one aspect of the problem. Three different analytical approaches are used, but the ontological basis of the thesis is mainly inspired by Niklas Luhmann’s theory of social systems. The first analytical part is based on the archeology of knowledge and investigates the historical role of knowledge in social politics. With help from analytical tools developed by Michel Foucalt, it is shown how knowledge becomes an increasingly important factor in the construction of social politics. During a period of approximately 150 years the role of knowledge in social politics changes from a basis for political discussion to a more or less independent authority, which can legitimize prioritization or changes in ways of administrations. By the late 1990’s and the early 2000’s a new scientific way of observing the management of social politics develops: It is no longer enough to produce (positive) effects, it has to be evident, that the effects are a result of the effort, which is made. This demand is met by the introduction of evidence based management, which makes scientific standards an ideal in the administration of social politics. The second analytical part investigates the strategy to eliminate homelessness in Denmark as a concrete case of handling a social problem with an evidence based approach. Luhmann’s theory about social systems makes up the main part of the theoretical framework of this part of the analysis. The analysis shows that, in this case, the evidence based approach constructs a series of demands in the administration of the strategy to eliminate homelessness in Denmark. These demands evolve around the need for better solutions on the basis of more accurate knowledge. When science intervenes in politics, politics becomes a matter of scientific calculation instead of political decisions and struggles. This results in a undermining of the political, because knowledge conquers the power to point out both problem and solution. The third and final analytical part is based on the case of evidence based social politics in Odense, Denmark. Theoretical thoughts from Slavoj Žižek are drawn in to show how ideas about knowledge and evidence limits the way politics can be practiced. In the case of evidence based politics in Odense, we see that both the social political actions and the steering tools are formed by scientific standards. As an ideological phantasm, evidence becomes the way that politics are made possible by pointing towards new possibilities of improvement.

EducationsMSocSc in Political Communication and Managment, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2011
Number of pages127