Engineering Society. The Scientization of the Social in Comparative Perspective, 1880-1990

International Conference, 20-22 November 2008, held at the Humanities Research Institute of the University of Sheffield

Supported by the German Historical Institute, London, by the German Historical Institute, Washington, DC, and by the German History Society

‘Scientization of the social’ is a concept that has been developed to analyse the application of the social sciences to social problems. It focuses on the impact these sciences have had on both the structures and the self-descriptions of modern societies since the late nineteenth century. The concept directs the attention to the manifold ways in which various disciplines from the ‘social sciences’, ‘sciences humaines’ or ‘Humanwissenschaften’ have classified social phenomena with statistical means, described anomic situations and social ‘problems’, developed blueprints for welfare-state planning and have provided means for therapeutical intervention into problems of individual persons. The “scientization of the social” was (and continues to be) an open field in which various disciplines from the social sciences claimed to have the best solutions for certain problems and competed for strategic influence in the respective decision-making bodies and agencies. The conference will explore these issues in a comparative perspective.

Thursday, 20 November

From 2pm: Conference Registration

3.00-3.30pm Introduction Kerstin Brückweh/Benjamin Ziemann

3.30pm-5.30pm Public Keynote Lecture: Lutz Raphael (University of Trier): Experts, Ideas and Institutions: Main Trends in embedding the Human Sciences in Western Societies since the 1880s

5.30-6.30pm Wine Reception at the HRI

Friday, 21 November

9am-12.30pm Panel 1: Social and Penal Policy

Peter Becker (University of Linz), New Members of the Research Family? Neurosciences and their Presence in Criminological Debates

Bengt Sandin (University of Linköping): Abortion Crimes, Social Engineering of Sexuality and Welfare Policy in Sweden 1860 – 1960

Julia Moses (Oxford University): Compensation and Legal and Scientific Expertise about Workplace Accidents, 1880-1920

Martin Lengwiler (University of Basel): From Standards to Co-ordination: Universalism, International Organisations and the Limited Convergence of Welfare States in the 20th Century

Ted Porter (UCLA): How Society Became Statistical

Commentator: Richard Wetzell (German Historical Institute, Washington DC)

12.30pm-2pm Lunch

2pm-6pm Panel 2: Diagnosis and Therapy

Elizabeth Lunbeck (Vanderbilt University): Narcissism as Social Critique

Greg Eghigian (Penn State University): Rehabilitation: Thoughts on the History of a Twentieth-Century Social Project

Mathew Thomson (University of Warwick): Psychology and the Engineering of Society in Twentieth-Century Britain

Harry Oosterhuis (University of Maastricht): Self-Development and Civic Virtue: Psychiatry, Mental Health, and Citizenship in the Netherlands (1870-2005)

Katharine Norris (American University, Washington DC): Scientific Child Psychology and Healthy Child Development in the French Third Republic, 1870-1940

Commentator: Sabine Maasen (University of Basel)

Saturday, 22 November

9.30am-1pm Panel 3: Organizations, Polling and Marketing

Sarah Igo (Vanderbilt University): Hearing the Masses. The Modern Science of Opinion

Anja Kruke (Friedrich Ebert Foundation, Bonn): Polls in Politics. Restructuring the Body Politic in West Germany, 1940s to 1980s

Kerstin Brückweh (German Historical Institute London): How to Streamline a Diverse Society: Market Research, Opinion Polling and Social Classification in Britain

Emil Walter-Busch (University of St Gallen): Business Organizations, Foundations, and the State as Promoters of Applied Social Sciences. The Cases of the USA and Switzerland, 1900-1950

Stefan Schwarzkopf (Queen Mary, London): The Consumer Jury: Historical Origins, Theoretical Implications and Social Consequences of a Marketing Myth

Commentator: Felix Keller (University of Zürich)

2pm-3pm: Thematic Wrap-Up and Final Discussion, chaired by Dirk Schumann and Richard Wetzell

Convenors: Kerstin Brückweh (German Historical Institute London), Dirk Schumann (Georg-August-University Göttingen), Richard Wetzell (German Historical Institute Washington DC), Benjamin Ziemann (University of Sheffield)


Kerstin Brueckweh [email protected]

Benjamin Ziemann [email protected]

Dr. Benjamin Ziemann University of Sheffield Department of History 387 Glossop Road Sheffield S10 2TN Phone 0044/(0)114/222 2585 Fax 0044/(0)114/278 8304