Reiner Grundmann

Reiner Grundmann, (born 29 September 1955 near Freudenstadt) is Professor of Science and Technology Studies (STS) at the University of Nottingham and Director of its interdisciplinary STS Research Priority Group.[1] He is a German sociologist and political scientist who has resided in the UK since 1997. Previous appointments include Aston University and the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies.

Reiner Grundmann
Born (1955-09-29) 29 September 1955 (age 64)
Freudenstadt, West Germany
Alma materFree University Berlin
Scientific career
ThesisMarxism and Ecology (1991)
Doctoral advisor

Life and academic careerEdit

Grundmann took his A-levels at Schelztor Gymnasium in Esslingen. He studied sociology in Berlin and received his doctorate 1989 at the European University Institute (EUI), Florence (Italy). His habilitation about environmental policy on the ozone layer challenge took place at the University of Bielefeld in 1998 under the auspices of Peter Weingart from the Center for Interdisciplinary Research, Bielefeld. Grundmann held post-doctoral positions, at the Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin, at the Graduate college Risk and private law at the University of Bremen, and at the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies, Cologne. In 1997 he took up a position at Aston University and is since 2012 at the University of Nottingham.[2]

Grundmann's interest in the role of expertise in modern society is influenced by frameworks such as Post-normal science and Roger Pielke Jr.'s Honest broker. Both are in line with basic works in the sociology of science and technology doubting a direct influence of "certain knowledge" or "settled science" on political decision making, which is being discussed as the linear model of science policy interaction.[3] His work challenges widespread believes in global success or failure of environmental policy as result of scientific consensus, or as an outcome of corporate power.[4] In contrast, he shows the relevance of transnational policy networks.[5]

Social theoryEdit

Marxist view on EcologyEdit

Grundmann started his academic career with an analysis of the legacy of Marx’s theory for the understanding of environmental problems. This work was a direct product of his PhD research at the EUI in Florence, in the late 1980s under the supervision of Steven Lukes. Grundmann described ecology as being no longer confined to the realms of biology since the 1970s. The term, as it had been coined in the 1870s by Ernst Haeckel, a German biologist and monist, was about a branch of biology dealing with the interaction of organisms and their surroundings. The current use of the term started to put the interaction of pollution in a political context and was later to describe a political movement as well. The thesis was published by Oxford University Press in 1991 and a related article by Grundmann himself[6] and an answer and review of the study by Ted Benton appeared the following year in the New Left Review.[7] The basic approach used Hans Magnus Enzensberger's Zur Kritik der politischen Ökologie[8] published in 1973 in the German Kursbuch[9] It has been translated in English in Ted Bentons Greening of Marxism in the 1990s.[10]

Grundmann saw orthodox marxist thinking being caught between Marx's disrespect for the idiocy of rural life and his belief in a resurrection of nature. He attempted to identify problems which could be still dealt with convincingly with Marx's thought and approach. Grundmann dealt in detail with Marx and Engels' discourse on the 'domination over nature’, which he claims of being of value. Grundmanns explicit advocacy of the term is exemptional [11] and his introduction into the topic has been quoted as late as 2010 by leading Chinese Scholars as being wonderful.[12] Grundmann avoided depicting the domination as being a precondition of destruction, but allowed for interpretations as mastery or stewardship.[12] Grundmann' defence of ‘mastery over nature' as a metaphor in ecologically informed socialism was however not in line with Ted Benton's interpretation of the domination term used by Marx. Benton was positive about Grundmann cutting through a lot of sloppy thinking in the ‘ecocentric’ camp. [7] He furthermore acknowledged that Grundmanns interpretation of Marx view of our relation to nature is insofar specific compared to e.g. Francis Bacon and Nietzsche, since in Marx’s view that ‘man should make an impact on the world’. Such mastery, according to Grundmann, would be better interpreted as in mastering a musical instrument.[7] Grundmann concluded "that the pursuit of productivity and the development of a healthy environment need not be mutually exclusive," arguing that only specific technologies, not technology as such, lead to environmental degradation.[13] Whilst the book received some praise and critical attention at the time, it was published at a difficult historical juncture—after the fall of communism there was little enthusiasm for theoretical frameworks inspired by Marx. This has changed, and the forthcoming Chinese translation and recent reviews and papers about Grundmann's marxist ecology published in China[14][15][16][17] indicate an ongoing interest in the topic.[18]

Sustainability and Werner SombartEdit

In the years that followed, he moved away from social theory and started engaging with issues about environmental sustainability from the viewpoint of science and technology studies. This move was inspired by the insight of Karl Marx that technology reveals the active transformation of nature, performed by humans and their social forms of organization.[19]

A partial return to social theory was prompted by the co-operation with Nico Stehr with whom Grundmann worked since the late 1990s. Their common work on Werner Sombart led to a re-evaluation of the legacy of this pioneering German sociologist, examining in particular his low salience in the postwar period.[20] Reviewer Lutz Kaelber from the University of Vermont referred to Stehrs and Grundmanns edition of Werner Sombart's Economic Life in the Modern Age as a valuable and accessible addition to the Anglo-American literature on Werner Sombart.[21]

Sustainability and large technical systemsEdit

The study of science and technology related issues led him to research large technical systems, which he did during his time at the Social Science Research Center Berlin (WZB) in the early 1990s. His special interest was focused on the future of automobility.[22] In the mid 1990s he spent three years at the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies in Cologne where he studied the efforts to protect the ozone layer (see as well ozone depletion and global warming). Transnational environmental policy - reconstructing Ozone was published in German in 1999 and in 2001 in English. It challenged widespread historical accounts which tend to explain the policies either as a result of scientific consensus, or as an outcome of corporate power.[4] In contrast, it shows the relevance of transnational policy networks.[5] The successful Montreal Protocol is often taken as an exemplar case which serves as the model for an (so far elusive) climate treaty. Grundmann claims that several problematic lessons have been drawn from this case.[23] The book entry quotes Jim Lovelock stating This readable book is the best treatment of the subject published so far and F.Sherwood Rowland with Stimulating and thought-provoking. [24]

Science and technology StudiesEdit

Grundmann contributed to Science, technology and society (STS) with books about the role of experts and the power of scientific knowledge. He sees a role of science as agenda setter in the political process but stays in line with basice STS assumptions about the failure of the linear model of science and policy interaction.[25] Roger Pielke's Honest Broker assumed with regard to climate studies, that the linear model still is overwhelmingly persistent. The assumption, that STS studies critical of the linear model would automatically translate into practice would echo the very linear model under scrutiny,[26] In a contribution to a volume in Knowledge and Democracy in 2015 Grundmann stated that those previous scholarly critiques already converted into governments attempting to improve management of public expectations on technological risk assessments.[27]

Role of ExpertsEdit

In their book on expert knowledge (English translation in 2011: Experts: The knowledge and power of expertise),[28] Grundmann and Stehr develop a specific concept of expertise. Contrary to common definitions that stress the centrality of scientists as experts, expertise is defined as mediating between knowledge production and knowledge application. With the expansion of knowledge intensive professions, ever more persons move into positions of experts—for some issues, some of the time. The rise of the knowledge society leads to a proliferation of knowledge sources which has not been sufficiently acknowledged by some dominant theories of expertise. A review in the Canadian Journal of Sociology pointed out that the book was published as part of Routledge’s “Key Ideas” series and was among the best books in this series, which attempt to both critically review the field and present arguments that reach beyond existing works.[28]

Experts: The knowledge and power of expertise got positive reviews e.g. in[29] Perlentaucher mentioned e.g. a positive review of Alexander Kissler in Süddeutsche Zeitung, stating Stehr and Grundmann would have successfully started to plough a new field.[30] Climate change is a prominent current case which highlights the question about knowledge and decision making. Grundmann thinks that there exists a mistaken belief that the presence of a scientific consensus will enable ambitious climate policies. He considers that a much praised study overstates the case for scientific consensus.[31] Grundmann is in line with main STS scholars view that science hardly determines policy outcomes.[32] Examples such acid rain ,[33] smoking regulations,[34] ozone depleting substances, genetically modified foods[35] show how cultural, economic and political issues exercised a strong influence. Conversely, the presence of an international science consensus (through the IPCC) has led to different national policies, none of which is on track to achieving the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions that the IPCC Summary for Policymakers postulate as necessary.[36][37]

Climate changeEdit

He wrote about the legacy of the Climatic Research Unit email controversy and whether it revitalized or undermined climate science and climate policy.[38] His own experiences with peer review of another paper about the issue are described in an interview with Hans von Storch on Storch's Klimazwiebel blog.[39] According von Storch's intro, Grundmann's paper Climategate and The Scientific Ethos[40] faced severe resistance from social science journals before it was published in Science, Technology, & Human Values.[39]

Grundmann and Stehr had themselves a controversy in the peer reviewed literature, when they clashed with Constance Lever-Tracy about the role of sociology in climate affairs. Grundmann stated a politicization of climate science which makes science, technology and society (STS) scholars feel uncomfortable with the topic of climate change.[41] Grundmann identifies a problematic approach of climate scientists who believe to have a prerogative to make political suggestions in the field "which society at large should take up because scientists always know best"[39] combined with a basic lack of actual[41] feasible solution proposals.[39] He sees climate change as a long term issue requiring more public involvement and debate, not less[39] and asks social scientists to study the interaction between climate and society, Lever-Tracy was more about letting the climatologists having the lead.[41]

Mike Hulme noted that Grundmann (2007) pointed out some of the problems, with the circulation of IPCC knowledge or that he suggested that improvements need to be made, for example in form of improved communication.[42] Grundmann wrote that besides the IPCC knowledge, it resulted in inaction in the United States, and that political agenda and high visibility of sceptical scientists in the media based on ‘balanced reporting’ led to a bias in climate change coverage in advantage of sceptical arguments. In Germany instead, science messaging and warnings from well known scientists prevailed and resulted in climate action.[43]

Publications and booksEdit

  • (1991) Marxism and Ecology. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0198273142
    • Korean (Dongnyok, Seoul 1995), Chinese translation is forthcoming
  • (1999) Transnationale Umweltpolitik zum Schutz der Ozonschicht. USA und Deutschland im Vergleich. Frankfurt a.M.: Campus. ISBN 3-593-36222-8
    • (2001) Transnational Environmental Policy: Reconstructing Ozone. London: Routledge. ISBN 0415224233
  • (2001) Werner Sombart. Economic Life in the Modern Age, edited and introduced by Nico Stehr and Reiner Grundmann, New Brunswick, N.J.; Oxford: Transaction Books. ISBN 0765800306.
  • (2011) Die Macht der Erkenntnis. Berlin: Suhrkamp. ISBN 978-3-518-29590-8 (with Nico Stehr).
  • (2010) Expertenwissen: Die Kultur und die Macht von Experten, Beratern und Ratgebern. Frankfurt am Main: Velbrueck. ISBN 978-3-938808-82-5 (with Nico Stehr).
  • (2008) Society: Critical Concepts (4 vols.) London: Routledge. ISBN 0415426561 (edited with Nico Stehr).
  • (2005) Knowledge: Critical Concepts (5 vols). London: Routledge. ISBN 0415317363 (edited with Nico Stehr).


  1. ^ STS. "STS Priority Group". Retrieved 29 August 2014.
  2. ^ "Reiner Grundmann - The University of Nottingham". Retrieved 2015-05-09.
  3. ^ von Storch, H., Meinke, I., Stehr, N., Ratter, B., Krauß, W., Pielke, R., Grundmann, R., Reckermann, M., & Weisse, R. (2011): Regional Climate Services illustrated with experiences from Northern Europe. Zeitschrift für Umweltpolitik und Umweltrecht, 34(1), 1-15.
  4. ^ a b Layzer, Judith A. (August 1, 2002). "Book Review Essay: Science, Politics and International Environmental Policy". Global Environmental Politics. 2 (3): 118–123. doi:10.1162/152638002320310554. ISSN 1526-3800.
  5. ^ a b "Walter Rösch: Review of Reiner Grundmann: Transnationale Umweltpolitik zum Schutz der Ozonschicht. Frankfurt a. M./New York: 1999, in: Portal für Politikwissenschaft (political science portal),, published on 01.01.2006". Retrieved 2015-05-09. External link in |title= (help)
  6. ^ Grundmann, Reiner (May–June 1991). "The ecological challenge to Marxism". New Left Review. I (194): 103–120. Available online.
  7. ^ a b c Benton, Ted (July–August 1992). "Ecology, socialism and the mastery of nature: a reply to Reiner Grundmann". New Left Review. I (194): 62–64.
  8. ^ A Contribution to the Critique of Political Ecology, the title being a pun on a famous Marx study
  9. ^ Hans Magnus Enzensberger (1973), Zur Kritik der politischen Ökologie', Kursbuch, 33 I
  10. ^ Enzensberger, Hans Magnus (1973): A Critique of Political Ecology, in: T. Benton (Hg.), The Greening of Marxism, New York, 1996, S. 17-49.
  11. ^ The Political Economy of Development and Environment in Korea, A new framework for environmental analysis Jae-Yong Chung, Richard J. Kirkby Routledge, 25.07.2005, p.10
  12. ^ a b Han, Lixin (2010), "'Realisation of Purpose' and 'Domination of Nature'", in Huan, Qingzhi (ed.), Eco-socialism as politics: rebuilding the basis of our modern civilisation, Dordrecht New York: Springer, ISBN 9789048137442.
  13. ^ Entry of the doctorate at Cadmus Reiner Grundmann: Marxism and Ecology Oxford, Clarendon Press/New York, Oxford University Press, 1991, Marxist introductions URI: ISBN 0198273142
  14. ^ 控制自然与历史唯物主义的重构——格伦德曼的生态马克思主义思想述评 Cai Huajie, Lin Meiping: Reconstruction of nature control and historical materialism:a review of Reiner Grundmann’s ecological Marxist thought, Journal of Wuhan University of Science and Technology (Social Science Edition) , 2010(03), in Chinese
  15. ^ 格伦德曼对马克思自然观的阐释——兼论马克思主义和生态学 Xiong Min (School of Marxism, Zhongnan University of Economics & Law, Wuhan 430073, Hubei,China) Grundmann’ s Interpretation of Marxist Nature-view Wuhan University Journal (2009/06)
  16. ^ 英国生态学马克思主义关于马克思的"自然极限"理论的阐释 [1] Ni Ruihua (Zhongnan University of Economics and Law) British Eco-Marxism Interpreting Marx’s Theory of Natural Limits, Conference, The National Research Base for World Marxism and Thought Trends at Fudan University, China 2010-11-18, in Chinese
  17. ^ "知识搜索". Retrieved 2015-05-11.
  18. ^ "国外社会科学杂志-2010年06期-中国知网 Marx defended anthropocentrism - On Reiner Grundmann's Ecological Marxist Theory CNKI entry about a 国外社会科学 (Social Sciences abroad journal) 2010 06". Retrieved 2015-05-11.
  19. ^ ‘Technology reveals the active relation of man to nature, the direct process of the production of his life, and thereby it also lays bare the process of the production of the social relations of his life and of the mental conceptions that flow from these relations.’ Footnote 4 in Karl Marx, Capital: A Critique of Political Economy, Volume 1, trans. Ben Fowkes, Penguin Classics (London, New York: Penguin Books, 1990), p. 493.
  20. ^ ‘Why is Werner Sombart not part of the core of classical sociologists? From fame to (near) oblivion’ Journal of Classical Sociology 1 (2): 257–287
  21. ^ "Book Review: Sombart, Economic Life in the Modern Age". Archived from the original on 2015-05-12. Retrieved 2015-05-09.
  22. ^ Grundmann, Reiner ; Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin für Sozialforschung gGmbH (Ed.): Kommunikation und technische Infrastruktur : über Schienen, Straßen, Sand und Perlen. Berlin, 1993 (Schriftenreihe der Forschungsgruppe "Große technische Systeme" des Forschungsschwerpunkts Technik - Arbeit - Umwelt am Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin für Sozialforschung 93-501). URN:
  23. ^ (2005) Ozone and Climate: Scientific consensus and leadership, Science, Technology, and Human Values 31(1): 73-101 [2].
  24. ^ Grundmann, Reiner:Transnational environmental policy: reconstructing ozone Routledge studies in science, technology, and society, ISBN 0-415-22423-3, Page ii
  25. ^ Compare the discussion of Collins and Evans Collins, H.M.; Evans, Robert (1 April 2002), "The Third Wave of Science Studies Studies of Expertise and Experience", Social Studies of Science (in German), 32 (2), pp. 235–296, doi:10.1177/0306312702032002003, ISSN 0306-3127
  26. ^ "Mark B. Brown: Review of The Honest Broker: Making Sense of Science in Policy and Politics by Roger S. Pielke, Jr., in Minerva: A Review of Science, Learning and Policy 46:4 (2008): 485-489" (PDF). Retrieved 2015-05-12.
  27. ^ "Marc Brown: Review of Knowledge and Democracy: A 21st Century Perspective, edited by Nico Stehr, in Contemporary Sociology 38:5 (2009): 452-453" (PDF). Retrieved 2015-05-12.
  28. ^ a b Young, Nathan (2011). "Book Review/Compte rendu: Nico Stehr and Reiner Grundmann. Experts: The Know-ledge and Power of Expertise. Key Ideas. New York: Rout-ledge, 2011, 148 pp. $110.00 hardcover (978-0-415-60803-9)". Canadian Journal of Sociology. 36 (3). Retrieved 2015-05-05.
  29. ^ Thorsten Benkel University of Passau) 10.15.2010 review of: Nico Stehr, Reiner Grundmann: Expertenwissen. Velbrück Wissenschaft (Weilerswist) 2010. In: socialnet Rezensionen, ISSN 2190-9245,, access 09.05.2015
  30. ^ "Reiner Grundmann / Nico Stehr: Expertenwissen. Die Kultur und die Macht von Experten, Beratern und Ratgebern - Perlentaucher". Retrieved 2015-05-09.
  31. ^ Cook et al., Quantifying the consensus on anthropogenic global warming in the scientific literature [3]
  32. ^ Collins, H.M.; Evans, Robert (1 April 2002), "The Third Wave of Science Studies Studies of Expertise and Experience", Social Studies of Science (in German), 32 (2), pp. 235–296, doi:10.1177/0306312702032002003, ISSN 0306-3127
  33. ^ Maarten A. Hajer, The Politics of Environmental Discourse: Ecological Modernization and the Policy Process, 1995. ISBN 9780198293330
  34. ^ Grundmann, Reiner (2013). "Debunking sceptical propaganda - Book review". BioSocieties. 8 (3): 370–374. doi:10.1057/biosoc.2013.15.
  35. ^ Susan Wright, Molecular Politics: Developing American and British Regulatory Policy for Genetic Engineering, 1972-1982 (1994). ISBN 9780226910659
  36. ^ Reiner Grundmann (2005) Ozone and Climate: Scientific consensus and leadership, Science, Technology, and Human Values 31(1): 73-101
  37. ^ Schwarz, Susanne (13 April 2014). "IPCC Working group III".
  38. ^ Grundmann, Reiner (2012). "The legacy of climategate: revitalizing or undermining climate science and policy? - Grundmann - 2012 - Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change - Wiley Online Library". Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change. 3 (3): 281–288. doi:10.1002/wcc.166.
  39. ^ a b c d e Tuesday, May 29, 2012 Interview with Reiner Grundmann by Hans von Storch
  40. ^ Grundmann, Reiner (2012). "Climategate and the Scientific Ethos". Science, Technology & Human Values. 38: 67–93. doi:10.1177/0162243911432318.
  41. ^ a b c Reiner Grundmann and Nico Stehr (2010). "Climate Change: What role for Sociology? A Response to Constance Lever-Tracy'". Current Sociology. 58 (6): 897–910. doi:10.1177/0011392110376031.
  42. ^ Mike Hulme (2010). "Climate Change: what do we know about the IPCC?" (PDF).
  43. ^ Reiner Grundmann (2007). "Environmental Politics Climate Change and Knowledge Politics" (PDF). Environmental Politics. 16 (3): 414–432. CiteSeerX doi:10.1080/09644010701251656. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2014-08-26.
  44. ^ "Publikation auf Russisch erschienen!". Zeppelin university.
  45. ^ Nathan Young (2011). "BOOK REVIEW/COMPTE RENDU. Nico Stehr and Reiner Grundmann. Experts: The Know- ledge and Power of Expertise". Canadian Journal of Sociology. 36 (3).

External linksEdit