Die pragmatische Wende
Die Max-Planck-Gesellschaft und die Sozialwissenschaften 1975–1985
1. Edition 2009
Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht
In 1984 the Max-Planck-Gesellschaft founded a new institute for social sciences in Cologne, Max-Planck-Institut für Gesellschaftsforschung, run by Renate Mayntz. The new institute was the outcome of an unsuccessful experiment led by the MPG 14 years earlier.
In 1970 the MPG began to work on a project in Starnberg that explored living conditions in a scientific-technical world. The project was run by Carl Friedrich von Weizsäcker and Jürgen Habermas. The institute mainly dealt with explosive political topics. It was known for its left wing tendencies, for talking politics and to polarize.
When Weizsäcker’s research came to a standstill in 1980 an outcry went through the left wing and alternative part of the Federal Republic of Germany. The nomination of the renowned head of the London School of Economics Ralf Dahrendorf failed and the resignation of Jürgen Habermas in 1981 sealed the end of the Starnberg enterprise.
The reputation of the MPG and its president Reimar Lüst suffered, the traditional society was put under pressure to act. The end of the Starnberg institute was not meant to turn into the end of social sciences within the MPG. A new and successful institute had to be established without repeating the mistakes made in Starnberg.
In her book Ariane Leendertz gives insight into discussions of and decisions made by the MPG that lead to the closure of the Starnberg institute but also to the new institute in Cologne. Debates that took place within the MPG are put into a broader context of the social-political climate and developments in the social sciences and sociolgy in the 1970s and early 1980s.
In the years »after the boom« the Federal Republic of Germany changed fast and profoundly and caused a new trend in social sciences and to a series in crisis discourse. This also had an effect on the founding programme of the MPI for social sciences.