Albrecht Sonntag's 7th FREE-Kick column in the Sport&EU Review has just been published.
In times of tightening budgets and growing demands of accountability, public
research funding agencies are increasingly scared of being accused of wasting the
taxpayer’s money. While research investments into nanoscience, biogenetics or
information technology are by definition considered worthwhile – Growth! Jobs!
Future! – the social sciences and humanities inevitably raise suspicious questions
such as: Is this really ‘useful research’? Or is it simply a way to squander public
money in order to keep weird professors occupied in their ivory towers? And allow
them to indulge in ‘all-expenses paid’ academic tourism?
Under the justification pressure of utilitarianism, the buzzword of the times is
‘IMPACT’. In an age where politicians and public authorities prove more and more
incapable of changing society for the better, social scientists are expected to promise
in each and every funding application submitted to these same authorities that their
work will have an impact.
It makes sense, of course, to expect expensive research projects to give something
back to society. And, fortunately, this noble idea is actually shared by many social
scientists in principle. The devil hides, as often, in the detail: On whom exactly are
they expected to have this impact? How are they expected to demonstrate that they
do have one? In what way can impact be reasonably measured?
Please click here to download Issue 2, Volume 6 of the Sport&EU review - the column is pp21-27