POLICY RESEARCH AS SOCIAL SCIENCE: OUTFLANKING THE VALUE DILEMMA

Laurence Chalip

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Social scientists fear that policy research compromises their objectivity. As a result, policy science is becoming a separate discipline which is accorded lower status that other fields of social inquiry. However, the history, sociology and psychology of science show that the elaboration of robust social theory would be aided by a more intimate relation between policy research and academic social science than currently obtains. The traditional canons of value freedom, which have been invoked to justify the independence of social science from policy, misrepresent the relation between facts and values in science. Objective knowledge is consequent on dispute and triangulation by a many‐valued community of fallible social scientists; but it does not eventuate from consensual value neutralism. Social knowledge interacts with social values to change phenomena our theories represent. This self‐restructuring characteristic of social events warrants singular attention by social scientists. Policy researchers are in a particularly opportune position to provide that attention.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)287-308
Number of pages22
JournalReview of Policy Research
Volume5
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 1985

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Public Administration
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law

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