An experimenting society is one in which policy-relevant knowledge is created. It is then critically assessed and communicated in real-life or natural settings, with the aim of discovering new forms of public action to improve the problem-solving capacities of society. This latest volume of the distinguished Policy Studies Review Annual series probes, evaluates, and augments the work of Donald T. Campbell on an experimental societies. A basic assumption of this volume is that Campbell's perspective supplies a useful way to address increasingly complex and seemingly unmanageable problems facing the United States and other postindustrial societies.
This volume is also the fourteenth festschrift to be issued by Transaction. The focus is on theoretical as well as practical options for creating an experimenting society. The rationale for this focus is the belief, increasingly -shared in the social science and policy-making communities alike, that researchers are essentially ignorant about how to solve many of the most pressing larger problems of this epoch. This frank recognition of ignorance is a prerequisite of genuine scientific and professional curiosity, without which knowledge gains are next to impossible to achieve, and a'precondition of an experimenting society.
Contributors to this original volume include: Steve-Fuller, Duncan MacRae, Jr., Anthony S. Bryk, Robert A. Beauregard, Rita Mae Kelly, Peter Gregware, Burkart Holzner, B. Guy Peters, C. West Churchman, and Ian I. Mitroff. Their multidisciplinary competencies are at once philosophical, methodological, and substantive. They address such questions as: What new or bold policies are available in domains such as education, science, and urban development? In what ways can theoretical knowledge and practical action be fused so as to illuminate or alleviate policy problems? What should be done? Included are excerpts from Campbell's foundational paper "The Experimenting Society," as well as a recent article entitled "Methods for the Experimenting Society," which circulated in unpublished form for many years. An unusual feature of the book is Campbell's responses to those who have addressed his work with candor and intelligence. It will be of interest to policy studies scholars, sociologists, and social scientists.