Social and Management Sciences: The Difficult but Unavoidable Relationship

By:
Dr. Oscar Forero
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Whilst the ‘securitisation’ of political discourses on the environment is on the increase, the effects of ‘global climate change’ in society and the environment are been felt ever so acutely. Given this distressing context, it is even more taxing for researchers, consultants and activists to reflect on the scientific paradigms, but also in the effective methodologies and the concrete managerial tools and instruments that can facilitate interdisciplinarity research and the incorporation of indigenous-local knowledge for developing, adapting and adopting sustainable livelihoods. This paper reflects on some research and consultancy experiences in ‘sustainable development projects’ and ‘policy development’ that attempted both the incorporation of indigenous-local knowledge and interdisciplinarity. It is argued that such reflective processes constitute an intrinsic part of the methodologies developed by social sciences, particularly to the so-called ‘ethnosciences’. It is also argued that scientists and managers educated to believe that science is value free are likely to continue opposing or rejecting alternative paradigms in which different orders of reality need to be re-considered as indicative of systems of knowledge with distinctive but equally valid epistemological bases. It is hoped that such reflection helps to solve some of the difficulties encountered in ‘interdisciplinary’ research practices.


Keywords: Interdisciplinarity, Indigenous Local Knowledge, Sustianble Livelihoods, Research Practice
Stream: Anthropology, Archaeology, Cultural Studies, Humanities
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
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Dr. Oscar Forero

Research Associate, Informatics Collaboratory of the Social Sciences - ICOSS, University of Sheffield
Sheffield, South Yorshire, UK

Until October 2005 I worked as Research Associate for the Department of Geography at King´s College London in a project linked to the Cultures of Consumption Programme (ESRC / AHRB). I investigated the history of the production and consumption of chewing gum studying the interfaces between policy-making and the processes of cultural change. Whilst working on the CFCF project on the transmission of food values I am also a tutor of Environmental Management and Sustainable Development for the DLP of Imperial College-London. Research Interests: The implementation of environmental policies, specialising in actor-oriented, interpretative approaches, working mainly with qualitative methods. By attempting to construct the history of livelihood strategies, one is forced to compare the development of `communities´ during different periods of time. Through diachronical analysis one looks at developmental conditions through time periods defined by the structural (political - economical) and environmental changes. Long-term comparability is possible by combining ethnohistory (including the analysis of archives, audiovisual material, plastic arts and literature), ethnography (including participatory actions research during fieldwork and ICT monitoring throughout the projects´ life), and comparative political and ecological analysis.

Ref: I07P0065