The governance of social science and everyday epistemology

Claire Donovan*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

    37 Citations (Scopus)


    Research on the governance of publicly funded research does not recognize that social science and 'science' are distinct activities. Neither does it recognize that regulating research policy in purely science and technology terms has undesirable consequences for the social sciences - intended or otherwise. This paper seeks to correct these omissions and considers the governance of social science through the example of regulating 'everyday epistemology' at the science policy level. The British research council system is used in order to demonstrate how social science has been politically constructed as a legitimate enterprise for public funding. We find that social science is in fact regulated by non-social scientists. The result is that social science, seen as a square peg, is forced into the round hole of natural scientific thinking. When this policy is translated into governance structures it creates a 'slave social science' and subverts the role of social science as social science.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)597-615
    Number of pages19
    JournalPublic Administration
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - Aug 2005


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