Sunday, June 03, 2007

Facts or Narratives: What influences policy?

I'm participating this weekend in a fascinating discussion about race and the criminal justice system with a number of other scholars of race and/or crime as well as members of the Open Society Institute's "After Crime Initiative" and the Aspen Institute's "Roundtable on Community Change." We've been talking about how mass imprisonment has become interwoven with both governance and race-making in American society. An interesting issue that has emerged is whether social science is part of the solution or part of the problem. Can facts change policies if they are not embedded in effective narratives (stories)? Are their more or less effective narratives, or only narratives that fit or don't fit the dominant political interests in society? The answers are mostly contested so far, but the questions are central to how reinvigorated empirical socio-legal studies movement relates to the increasingly complicated policy audience.

More to come...


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