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Feb 25, 2019 Article
Societal problem solver or deficient discipline? The debate about social science in the online public sphere

by Brigitte Huber, Irmgard Wetzstein and Ingrid Aichberger

This study uses the online discourse surrounding an Austrian publicly-funded study about “Islamic kindergartens” as a case study to approach communication about the social sciences in the online public sphere. Results from a discourse analysis of 937 user comments in online forums of two Austrian daily newspapers show that the social sciences are often referred to as a “special case”. While some use this argument to neglect its societal relevance, others use it to highlight its role as societal problem solver. Moreover, users discuss characteristics of “true” social scientists and scrutinise the independence of institutionalised social science.

Volume 18 • Issue 02 • 2019