Review: Matthias Groß, Holger Hoffmann-Riem und Wolfgang Krohn (2005). Realexperimente. Ökologische Gestaltungsprozesse in der Wissensgesellschaft [Real Experiments. Ecological Design Processes in the Knowledge Society]

Till Westermayer


This book shows how a new type of experimentation, the "real experiment", was developed in knowledge societies as a reaction to growing risks and non-knowledge. "Real experiments" combine knowledge production and knowledge application in real-world cases. The authors discuss the history of the scientific experiment. They present lessons learned from the early Chicago school of sociology about "society as laboratory". Four case studies (cattle farming in Tanzania, the ecological restoration of Montrose Point, Chicago and of Sempachersee, Switzerland, and the system of waste treatment in Germany) are re-constructed in detail, using Grounded Theory methodology. These represent four different kinds of ecological "real experiment". What is typical of "real experiments" is a recursive and cyclical process of design, intervention and learning. The book concludes with some thoughts on the design of robust and successful "real experiments", but here the degree of concreteness found in the case studies is absent. Although "Real Experiments" makes interesting reading for STS (Science and Technology Studies) researchers, professionals in the field of eco-system management and related areas will miss guidelines for best-practice "real experiments". A further shortcoming is the restriction of the book to the field of ecology, while the authors claim that this type of experimentation has general relevance in knowledge societies.
URN: urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs0604139


knowledge society; experiment; real experiment; ecology; theory of science; grounded theory; learning; practice

Copyright (c) 2006 Till Westermayer

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