Hans Blokland is a Dutch social and political scientist and philosopher, currently living in Potsdam, Germany.
In the last 30 years Hans Blokland published a large number of books and essays in the overlapping fields of social and political science and philosophy, sociology of culture, political economy, history of thought, and philosophy of science. The essays have been published in a wide variety of academic and professional journals and magazines, addressing many different publics.
Hans Blokland worked for the Dutch Ministry of Culture as a senior policymaker, and as a researcher for The Netherlands Institute for Social Research. At Erasmus University Rotterdam he held tenured positions at the departments of Sociology, Public Management, and History and Arts. He was a fellow of the Royal Netherlands Academy of the Arts and Sciences and held visiting positions at Yale University and Manchester University.
Between 2009 and 2015 Hans Blokland was International Professor at the Humboldt University in Berlin teaching in sociology, political science, research design and methods, and philosophy of science. In 2012 he was also appointed on the Corelio-Chair for Media and Democracy at the Free University Brussels. And in 2013 he was appointed on the Alfred Grosser-Chair in sociology of the SciencesPo in France.
In 2014 Hans Blokland founded Social Science Works, a non-governmental organization putting social science research to work for civil society and democratic decision making (see: Social Science Works). Social Science Works is driven by pregnant societal problems. To alleviate these problems, we try to develop and to apply usable knowledge. Our foci are democracy, participation, integration, populism and radicalization. We aim to further integration and civic participation, and to counter populism and radicalization. We try to develop new ways of meaningful citizen participation and to advance new strategies to strengthen civic and political competences.
Central subjects of Blokland’s work are the meanings and the current relevance of the concepts of power, freedom, and emancipation; democratic theory and democratic participation (citizenship, deliberation, social capital); cultural politics and cultural policy; ethical, cultural and political pluralism; the process of modernization (rationalization, differentiation and individualization); the dissemination, potencies and flaws of market and bureaucracy; the development of (the thinking on) democracy, policy-making and planning; and the history, the epistemological potency and the knowledge sociology of the social and political sciences.
A characteristic of Blokland’s work is that he seeks to bring together what erroneously has become more and more separated: social and political philosophy on the one hand, and social and political science on the other hand. This separation habitually has led to philosophies without empirical support and empirical relevance, and to sciences ignorant of fundamental social and political questions and issues, and ignorant of its own epistemological and normative assumptions. Related to this, his work is more problem-driven than has become common in social and political science and philosophy.
Consequently, both in his teachings and research Blokland has increasingly devoted attention to what Charles Lindblom called “Usable Knowledge”. Building on the growing uneasiness within the social and political sciences about the way these disciplines have developed in the last half century, he analyzes the epistemological possibilities and limits of these disciplines, and the characteristics of successful contributions or interventions of social and political science and philosophy in the public discourse and the public decision-making processes. On top of that he explores under the influence of which social and cultural factors and epistemological ideas and assumptions – implicit and explicit, conscious and unconscious – these disciplines continue to operate and develop in ways which according to many too often lead to irrelevancy and meaninglessness.
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