Practicing Evidence – Evidencing Practice in Science, Medicine Technology and Society

Evicence Practices in Research, Technology, Medicine and Society - DFG Research Group 2448 at the TUM

The aim of our research group is to investigate the practices of evidence within the information society. Our point of departure is the observation that evidence as socially accepted, established knowledge originates in processes of negotiation. By combing history of science, sociology, philosophy, economics, environmental studies, and communication studies our group will examine how factual knowledge (data, results, findings etc.) attains the status of evidence, and in which relevant contexts this evidence influences decisions. Transversing disciplinary habits of perception, the increasing significance and functionalization of evidence in the scientific community will be analysed from both synchronic and diachronic perspectives. In respect of this development, the 20th century marks an important turning point as well as starting point for our research group. Knowledge-based action is increasingly expected in multiplying areas of society, the significance of applied research is growing, and the pressure on science to provide legitimacy in view of the burgeoning discourse on risk, uncertainty and lack of knowledge is becoming imperative. All of these factors raise the stakes for evidence, and radically alter the interlinked processes of its production and use. We circumscribe the specific areas of negotiation of evidence with the concept of ‚socio-epistemic configuration’, which includes several entities (agents, discourses, materialities, institutions, etc.). This broader perspective lies in the interlinking of contexts production and use, in which the chiasmus of practicing evidence and evidencing practice is at the heart of our study, and which we analyse with regard to three primary development processes in the information society: namely, technological advances, prediction, and coproduction as condition and driver of practices of evidence. It is precisely at the interface between science and society that the ambiguity of the term ‘evidence’ is exposed, and whose semantic instability and flexibility is exploited in our research. All eight projects deal with specific instances of evidence generation that share one similarity: In each case, there are phenomena in which evidence is either desirable or dubious. Common questions, ideas, and modes of access generate synergies in the analysis of the selected examples. Our research group concentrates its collaboration on current and relevant cases of the postmodern information society via an interdisciplinary approach, which should ultimately provide transdisciplinary answers.


Narrativity: Genetics, Media and Medicine

TP 1: The Janus-face of Participation: Practices of Evidence in Personalized Medicine (Gadebusch Bondio)  

TP 2: Narrativity as practicing evidence in public discourse about genetic research (Kinnebrock / Bilandzic)

Objectivity: Safety, Technology and Food

TP 3:„How Safe Is Safe Enough?“ Practices of Evidence for Technical Safety in Times of Societal Uncertainty (Zachmann)

TP 4: Food Safety and the Controversial Interaction of Risk Analysis and Intuition (Roosen)

Entanglement: Scientific and Non-Scientific Communities

TP 5: Evidence Practices at the Interstice of Sciences, Humantities, and the Public: The Anthropocene Debate (Trischler)

TP 6: Evidence in citizen science. Between non-certified expertise, professional supervision and mechanization. (Dickel / Maasen)

Normativity: Excellence and Ethos in Science (associated Projects)

TP 7: Evidence as an epistemic and moral value. Scientific-ethical contexts of evidence (Özmen)

TP 8: Evidence for Excellence. Generating evidence for selecting excellent early careers researchers in German and European funding programs. (Müller)


(unless otherwise stated, Technical University Munich)

Prof. Dr. Helena Bilandzic, Kommunikationswissenschaft (Universität Augsburg)

Dr. Sascha Dickel, Wissenschaftssoziologie

Prof. Dr. Mariacarla Gadebusch Bondio, Geschichte und Ethik der Medizin – currently: Uni Bonn

Prof. Dr. Susanne Kinnebrock, Kommunikationswissenschaft (Universität Augsburg)

Prof. Dr. Sabine Maasen, Wissenschaftssoziologie

Prof. Dr. Ruth Müller, Wissenschafts- und Technikforschung

Prof. Dr. Elif Özmen, Praktische Philosophie (Universität Gießen)

Prof. Dr. Jutta Roosen, Marketing und Konsumforschung

Prof. Dr. Helmuth Trischler, Wissenschafts- und Umweltgeschichte (Deutsches Museum, München und Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München)

Prof. Dr. Karin Zachmann, Technikgeschichte (Spokeswoman)