The importance of scientific knowledge has changed in the past decades. Science's cognition-oriented self-concept as a place for academic contemplation, for the art of experimentation and theory formation, which corresponded to the ideal of classical physics - and from there, set out on its triumphant advance - is now to be found in only some of the sciences. Other sciences, however, are drawn into society's decision-making processes, and are changed by them. The background of this development is that, in decision-making and organizational processes, knowledge is retrieved which is also needed for political opinion formation.
Through comprehensive research programs and new forms of organization, new methods of scientific knowledge production are being firmly institutionalized. Science is called for to subject these scientific production methods to a re-evaluation, and to examine them with regard to the question, to which extent basic research should and can be societally relevant. The performance potentials of this "new" form of scientific knowledge must, for that reason, be analyzed with respect to its societal relevance, and be oriented on higher-ranking formulations of problems. Besides the production of scientific knowledge, closer examination of the consumption and transformation of scientific knowledge can provide an analytical framework.