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Studying Welfare State from a Constructivist Perspective: Points of Departure for the Czech Case

Author(s): Martin Polášek | Vilém Novotný

Journal: Central European Journal of Public Policy
ISSN 1802-4866

Volume: 5;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 96;
Date: 2011;
Original page

Keywords: constructivism | ideas | new institutionalism | normative and cognitive frames | politics | social sciences | welfare state

The article uses the constructivist perspective and some approaches from the area of new institutionalism in order to reason over the possibilities and limits of the study of welfare state. At the same time, it uses the example of welfare state to analyse the research possibilities of certain forms of interconnecting social sciences and politics. The authors claim that social sciences construct, rather than discover and describe its subject (welfare state in our case) and this happens not only by the way of grasping the world around us through cognitive and normative frames, that is, through language, but also through expert counselling for political actors, who understand science in general (and social sciences within it) as a cognitive authority and who, for various reasons, take up cognitive frames science produces. It is paradoxical that although political actors do not share the constructivist perspective, they – by their willingness and interest in taking up these cognitive frames – strengthen the constructivist nature of social sciences. With respect to the relatively small interest of local political scientists in basic theoretical questions, we dedicate a larger portion of the text to more general issues and a smaller part then to the questions of actual research.
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