Presentation on theme: "Crossing Disciplinary and Methodological Boundaries Peter Halfpenny Executive Director National Centre for e-Social Science NCRM Research Methods Festival."— Presentation transcript:
Crossing Disciplinary and Methodological Boundaries Peter Halfpenny Executive Director National Centre for e-Social Science NCRM Research Methods Festival Oxford 30 June – 3 July 2008
Begin at the beginning
In the beginning … Isidore Marie Auguste François Xavier Comte (1798 – 1857) Social Physics – later ‘Sociology’ Queen of the Sciences - organised the lower sciences - already ‘multi’
Social sciences are multi Sociology Economics Politics Social Anthropology Business Studies Geography Media Studies and more …
Research methods are multi Festival programme! 69 sessions 23 ‘what is …? topics Multimodal, archival, participatory, grounded, agent-based, secondary, multi-level, visual, ethnographic, longitudinal, comparative, statistical, critical … social segregation, interview questions, risk, ethics, population trends, social networks …
Boundaries everywhere Social sciences are multi-disciplinary multi-method Social sciences criss-crossed by boundaries How to respond? 1.Erase them 2.Work within them 3.Work across them
1. Erase the boundaries Seek some overarching whole? A dominant paradigm? A philosophical solution? Postmodernism seeking a solution is fruitless / misguided
2. Work within boundaries Focus narrowly by topic and method Advantages cumulation Disadvantages insular against the trend
3. Work across boundaries Increasing potential digital ‘data deluge’ Internet enables collaboration computer support unlimited 21 st Century ‘grand challenges’
ESRC Key Challenges Succeeding in the global economy Individual behaviour and its relationship to biological and social determinants Education for life Environmental change Security and international relations Religion and society Population change ESRC Delivery Plan 2006 p.6
RCUK Interdisciplinary priorities Energy Living with environmental change Global threats to security Ageing Lifelong health and well-being Digital economy Nanoscience
Crossing boundaries Social sciences criss-crossed with boundaries substantial experience of crossing boundaries substantial incentives to cross boundaries realising the potential of the digital age addressing key challenges funding opportunities
Problems crossing boundaries 1.ecological fallacy multi at macro level not at micro level incentives to work in collaborative multi teams? 2.lack of synthesis how to integrate the multi bits?
Problems crossing boundaries 3.complex explanations how to understand multi explanations? from lone scholars to collaborative multi teams 4.lack of simple policy implications how to promote multi-agency policies?
Transcending boundaries Don’t reify boundaries Focus on research questions Pragmatic mixes of methods and disciplines Creatively craft explanations that draw on a wide range of evidence to illuminate the research question at hand … or is this a fudge?