Hermine Bähr presents a working paper on ‚Knowledge, Science and Society: The State of the Art of social Science Studies‘

The aim of this study is to examine the production of transdisciplinary knowledge in the context of real-world laboratories. The concept of transdisciplinarity describes the intentionally installed research setting of hybrid knowledge production at the science-public nexus that is aiming to solve pressing societal challenges. Especially in the context of climate change, sustainable development and urban planning, so-called real-world laboratories are implemented to co-create ‚robust‘ and ’socially relevant‘ knowledge that leads to social change.

This project takes a Science and Technology Studies account to investigate – by applying ethnographic and reconstructive sociology research methods – how practices of knowledge production change under the condition of research done in transdisciplinary settings.

One part of this project is to develop a conceptual account for a better understanding of the connections between science and society when it comes to the transfer of knowledge claims into changed structures. The other part is to empiri-cally analyze the interactions and transformations that occur when facts and ‚matters of concern‘ travel in between – that is, to reject the linear model of knowledge transfer by acknowledging the ambiguity of knowledge in the making and the complexity of its interactions.

In order to follow the implementation process between scientific and public knowledge production and deliberation, a case study is chosen, that shows the transfer from the global claim of decarbonization to the structural change in one particular region. The chosen case study is a rural periphery of post-GDR coal mining regions: Lusatia and the lignite coal mining area in central Eastern Germany (Mitteldeutsches Revier). This area is particularly interesting, as it amplifies the societal tensions between urban vs. rural understandings of energy politics and touches upon issues such as populism, skepticism, representation and marginalization.