A Theme for Social Sciences?

In recent years the quest for the proper form and content of social science studies has been a major preoccupation of academics. The reasons for this are numerous: the very rapid expansion of higher education generally and the particularly marked demand for the social sciences has led to a proliferation of new departments; brash young men have been promoted early to positions of power within the universities; the increasingly vocal criticism by the consumers of education – the students themselves – and, perhaps most important of all, a growing desire to re-aggregate human knowledge to counter the trend towards ever narrower degrees of specialism. All these factors have contributed to a mounting dissatisfaction with the traditional ways of studying the social sciences – that is, in almost hermetically sealed departments of economics, of politics, of sociology, and so on. Instead attempts have been made to draw the various social sciences together in studies of particular areas ; or of particular processes such as industrialisation, or urbanisation; or of particular problems as associated with, for instance, poverty or race. Each of these represents, of course, a multi- or inter-disciplinary approach to the study of the social sciences. Over the past four years I have been associated with two attempts to produce an integrated, inter-disciplinary course in social sciences. One was a failure; the other, my current preoccupation, is, I think, promising. What I have to say tonight is concerned with an analysis of these two intellectual experiments
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DOI 10.1017/S0080443600000091
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