Open social sciences for sustainability and related interdisciplinarity issues


I remember having submitted a research proposal on open method and interdisciplinarity of sustainability sciences that was not selected. Maybe because the call was too much related to a certain strand of literature, too highbrow and too much devoted to academic mandarins. 

The theme of this very brief post has to do with the relation between sustainability as a crucial problem and the aim of opening the social sciences in terms of collaboration, conflict, debate, and method.

Three subjects related to the notion of sustainability focus on different aspects such as time or history, space or territoriality and method for public policy assessment.
Some discussion of the report Open the social sciences is combined with a concluding remark on multidisciplinarity, interdisciplinarity and transdisciplinarity.
A final consideration will be given to geographical and cultural diversity from cases in Europe, Africa and Latin America. I can also be seen as a discussion about development issues and critical management studies of these very development issues.



A place called Saturno – Openness

Presentations of the different themes

1) Method for Public policy and sustainability issues: An interdisciplinary approach to the statement and analysis of the problem

Sustainability issues, like water distribution, water and waste management are much related in terms of impacts to how the policy problem is framed and the decisions are made. The traditional rational model of economic literature is not sufficient. It is crucial to integrate several strands of the sustainability process through an interdisciplinary method.

The present paper aims at two things: first to discuss the issue of interdisciplinarity, namely between social sciences and natural sciences, on the one hand, and the subject of sustainability at a specific geographical scale, say a region or nation, or even a city, and how to state the problem and how to proceed to the analysis, combining different views.

Some examples will be given for Brazil and other countries.

public policy method sustainability interdisciplinarity

2) Historical time, complexity and social sciences and the question of method

There is a common theme recurrent in complexity science, this is time (see Prigogine, as an influence on Wallerstein and the report Open the Social Sciences) and it has an equivalent in social sciences (and humanities) with the notion of historical time that we will define briefly.

After some definitions and clarification we will tackle the methodological question on how to combine not just different methods (for example the so­called qualitative, quantitative or mixed methods) but also the disciplinary traditions and, especially, the theories.
The difficulty is to be genuinely imprinted by transdisciplinarity, i. e., to combine and revise ­ some time profoundly and albeit painfully ­ our initial view of the world and the problem. This is the crux of opening the social sciences, not just with regard to themselves, but to fields such as history and the natural sciences.

The example of environmental as sustainability issue will illustrate our point.

3) The complexity of space for sustainability issues social responsibility and public policies

The dimension of space in social sciences is very crucial for understanding and implementing public policies. It is also important for deepening our knowledge of social responsibility of not just corporations but also local authorities. The importance of local knowledge and its relevance for social actors and stakeholders from outside must be stressed.
In our presentation the notion of space will be build around the notion of territory. The territory is the context of social interactions in which stakeholders take decisions and socialize. The centrality of this concept has to be valued in research about sustainability and environmental and social impact assessment.
Sustainability is an encompassing theme that shows the interest of opening the social sciences and trying new methods and combinations of knowledge traditions.


OpenEdition vous propose de citer ce billet de la manière suivante :
Marc Jacquinet (15 décembre 2016). Open social sciences for sustainability and related interdisciplinarity issues. Critique du management. Consulté le 15 juillet 2024 à l’adresse

Marc Jacquinet

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