Political Inquiries and more
Political Inquiries
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Political Inquiries and more ...


In 2009, we started some preliminary investigations into a new research field. A group of four scholars looked into the micro-processes of political inquiries (PI) such as the “Hutton Inquiry” in England, the European Parliament hearings on the “rendition flights”, or the ”Visa-Untersuchungsausschuss” by the German federal parliament. They dealt with questions such as these: How are inquiries carried out, how do they unfold in time, and how do they adress a wider public? The project envisions a mix of discourse analytical and ethnographic methods.

Here, we aim for the reconstruction and comparison of diachronic and synchronic orders of PI, meaning as a distinct entangled processes of communication, knowledge and decision-making. The project relates ‘doing procedure’ to the members’ efforts and means of ‘making things public’. From this perspective, the project is able to convey the practical relations of (more or less) self-contained knowledge processes. The focal concern with PI enters a dialogue with sociological and political theory on the workings of democratic politics, here on proceduralisation, popularisation, and deliberation.

In April 2010, the study of political procedure will be intensified by ethnographic fieldwork in the German Bundestag. The focus is on standing committees and the various groups and subgroups that are attached to it. The overall goal is to fill the gap that was left by the sociology of procedure. So far, sociological and political scholars focussed on decisions (e.g., Luhmann) or on voice (e.g., Habermas) in order to study and to evaluate the actual workings of procedural systems.




New activities

Special Issue on "Law and Biography" in BIOS

Call for Abstracts/French-German Conference on “Enfermement/Freiheitsentzug

Latest Texts/Books

My ethnography on the English Crown Court procedure by BRILL

Our comparative ethnography of criminal defence work in different procedural regimes by PALGRAVE

Teaching in SS 2011

Scheffer: „Einführung in die Institutionelle Ethnographie“ Kurs in Moodle

Scheffer: „Was tun Verfahren? Eine sozialwissenschaftliche Debatte“ Kurs in Moodle

Scheffer: „Arbeitskreis politische Ethnographie“ Termine in Moodle

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