Tension in Interpretations of the Social Impact of the Social Sciences: Walking a Tightrope Between Divergent Conceptualizations of Research Utilization

Tutkimustuotokset: Kirjoitus lehdessä tai erikoisnumeron toimittaminenArtikkeliTieteellinenvertaisarvioitu

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In Finland, the discussion surrounding the impact of research on society has continued for two decades without a consensus on how impact should be part of research evaluation. In this paper, I examine the conceptions of social impact in the field of social sciences from the perspectives of policy authors and academics by reviewing policy documents and conducting semi-structured interviews with 14 policy advisors, evaluation experts, and faculty professors. The policy data sets are from 2003 to 2018, the period in which the Finnish discussion on research impact has been the most active. Interpretivist notions on the social impact of the social sciences argue that representations of social impact derive from juxtapositional conceptions of how social science knowledge is part of society. Grounded theory techniques were used to analyze policy artifacts and stakeholder interviews. I identified five interpretative frames. These are impact governance, operationalization of impact, politicization of research utilization, guiding arrangements, and social impact of the social sciences. A key finding is that policy advisors and academic experts tend to integrate divergent vocabularies of research utilization and its evaluation, resulting in uncertainty about the conceptualization and operationalization of impact. Integrity of research utilization in research policy and research evaluation could increase the social capacity of the social sciences by helping to understand the conceptual contribution of these fields to public policies and public discussion.
JulkaisuSAGE Open
DOI - pysyväislinkit
TilaJulkaistu - 12 huhtik. 2022
Julkaistu ulkoisestiKyllä
OKM-julkaisutyyppiA1 Vertaisarvioitu alkuperäisartikkeli

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