Project title: Postfaktizität und Geltung. Eine Studie zum gesellschaftlichen Imaginären der Moderne.
(Post-Truth and Validity. An Inquiry into the Societal Imaginary of Modernity.)
In recent years, the diagnosis of a “post-truth era” has gained a lot of attention when it comes to describe the current shape of political culture and the media-landscape that surrounds it. From the perspective of cultural sociology, the term “post-truth” entails a peculiar mixture of political and epistemological meanings, invoking a narrative of an ongoing cultural decline. The dissertational project aims to dissect the societal constituents that put the notion of a shared sense of reality and truth-perception at the fore in times of political crises. By investigating into the self-perception of modern societies as rational knowledge societies with a strong confidence in science as an exemplary social system, providing a reliable basis for political decision-making, the societal imaginary of modern society can be reconstructed. Through examining the dialectics between facts and truth, the theoretical tool of the societal imaginary can refocus the classic sociological investigation into ideology and utopia. An analysis of the role that scientific expertise played in legitimizing far reaching political decisions during the pandemic year 2020 in Germany will serve as an empirical case study for the theoretical argument.