Presentation on theme: "How Disciplines Differ Desmond McNeill. Levels of ambition Multi-disciplinary: autonomy of the different disciplines; does not lead to changes in the."— Presentation transcript:
How Disciplines Differ Desmond McNeill
Levels of ambition Multi-disciplinary: autonomy of the different disciplines; does not lead to changes in the existing disciplinary and theoretical structures; Inter-disciplinary: formulation of a uniform, discipline- transcending terminology or common methodology; cooperation within a common framework shared by the disciplines involved; Trans-disciplinary (also known as cross-disciplinary): research based on a common theoretical understanding and accompanied by a mutual interpenetration of disciplinary epistemologies.
What is a discipline? Rough definition: A rigorous way of studying the world.
Dictionary definition “An academic discipline, or field of study, is a branch of knowledge which is taught or researched at the college or university level. Disciplines are defined and recognized by the academic journals in which research is published, and the learned societies and academic departments or faculties to which their practitioners belong.”
How do Disciplines Differ? A discipline is A rigorous way of studying the world. i.e. it is not the only way of studying (the world, or part of it). There are many different alternatives.
Objects of study Material things Living things Individual human beings Groups of human beings
Ways of studying them Observation Experimentation Dissection/analysis ….
Categories The above processes (description, measurement) involve: Selection and, almost always, Classification.
Categories Zoology: 8 main taxonomic ranks: domain, kingdom, phylum, class, order, family, genus, species. Sociology, characteristics shared by members of a group may include interests, values, ethnic or social background, and kinship ties
Even measurement usually involves classification. In demography, ’total population’ is arguably based on a ‘natural’ distinction - between humans and non-humans. But the division between children and adults is not purely ‘natural’.
In most cases, classification is not ‘natural’, but ‘social’ i.e. dependent on the shared meanings of a group of people. Such classifications vary across different societies, or over time within a society.
The object of study: matter or meaning One may range disciplines across a spectrum: Physics – chemistry – economics – anthropology – literary studies
’Materialist’ approaches (matter)
’Social’ approaches (meaning)
Perspectives: ways of seeing There is a close relationship between the object of study and the way that object is perceived. One major contrast is between reductionist and holist perspectives.
Intellectual rigour What constitutes rigour is decided by those who practice the discipline. Within a discipline, there is generally strong agreement as to what constitutes rigour. Between disciplines, there is often strong disagreement.
Why we study Intrinsic reasons Instrumental reasons