Banner Viadrina

Debordered Capitalism. The "Archive for Social Science and Social Policy" (1904-1933) as a Network of Knowledge

Project lead:

Cooperation partners:

  • Zentrum für Literatur- und Kulturforschung (ZfL) Berlin

Funding institution:

Brandenburg Ministry of Science, Research and Culture (Seed Money Funding January - December 2016)


January 2016, reorientation September 2021

Link List of Digitized Volumes

Project description:

Debordered Capitalism. The "Archive for Social Science and Social Policy" (1904-1933) and the Semantics of Political-Social Discourse

As global capitalism eroded national borders in the late 19th century, new forms of academic self-description in the world of social studies became necessary, leading to a re-ordering of knowledge. This project tackles that process of scientification of social thought.
The Archiv für Sozialwissenschaft und Sozialpolitik (AfSS, Archive for Social Science and Social Policy) was published from 1904 to 1933 and is considered a pioneering academic journal in 20th century social sciences. Based on the thesis that the sciences essentially shaped new basic concepts in the 20th century, the semantics of political-social discourse negotiated in the AfSS are examined in terms of conceptual history. Methodologically, this is possible thanks to full-text digitization combining digital and hermeneutic procedures.
The dominant theme is the way the journal, for more than three decades, addressed the issue of how a borderless capitalist economy could be reconciled with the frameworks of nation-states and policies for mass democratization. The research will focus on the AfSS' authority as the era's diagnostician of world war, the war economy, revolution and socialization, hyperinflation and world economic crises, and social classification and political radicalization. We will undertake a detailed analysis of the AfSS belief in a new link between social science and social policy, while still maintaining a superordinate unity between the distinct social and economic sciences, and exploring the power of capitalist developments to shape history and culture above and beyond the socio-economic core sector. The research will focus primarily on three levels of the journal. 1) Publishing houses, and their marketing and distribution power, 2) the seven individual publishers, and their power over subject matter and author selection, and 3) the way the knowledge deemed relevant was negotiated and weighted.
This study of the AfSS will be the first time that an academic journal will be studied as a "knowledge network" with the methods of historical network analysis in their social dimensions, as well as using hermeneutical content analysis of key subject areas in their scientific-dynamic dimension. A significant part of the project is the digitization, indexing, and publication of the entire journal according to the digitization standards of the German Research Foundation (DFG), in order to make the AfSS available to the academic community for the first time, and long-term, as an open access project.

Attribution to the fields of inquiry: